SEGA attempted to win over Western players once more by publishing Yakuza 0 outside of Japan. It serves as a prelude to the events of the subsequent installments of this famous series. Because of this, all receivers, not just series lovers, will find their place in the criminal adventure.
The plot, set in the late 1980s, depicts the series’ characters’ early destiny, motives, and climb up the ranks of a criminal organization. It was skillfully separated into two interwoven storylines. In one scenario, we play the hot-headed Kazuma Kiryu, who wanders the streets of Tokyo, and in other chapters, we guide the activities of Majima Goro, the eccentric manager of an Osaka nightclub. These two are initially strangers, but their fates become more intertwined with each passing moment. It all starts when Kazuma, a young man, becomes embroiled in a terrible murder. Is he merely a piece in a larger jigsaw, or will he gain independence and significantly disrupt the game of powerful people – it’s worth finding out for yourself. Yakuza 0’s finest points are undoubtedly its well-executed writing, engaging narrative, and emotive characters. The second hero was expelled from a criminal organization and is now working hard to re-enter the good graces of his old leader. He is an excellent club manager who understands how to acquire funds and deal with the various obstacles that the criminal underworld always throws at him. Kiryu is a little unusual. He’s a hothead and a savage, and his blood is boiling inside him. However, he is also sensible, does not behave rashly, and, most importantly, is honorable and understands how to accept responsibility for his acts. He leaves the yakuza to avoid involving his criminal underworld leader, who is like a second father to him, in a police probe. Kazuma is determined to clear his reputation at whatever cost, and the path to apprehension is long and tortuous.
Yakuza is frequently likened to the Grand Theft Auto series. While this kind of comparison may have made sense at the time of the first installment’s release, it now appears to be completely wrong. Yakuza 0 is a minor Tokyo and Osaka area. A locked environment with a dozen or so streets where we can freely move. We will come across gangs of hooligans prepared to fight, we will assist an assaulted passer-by, and we will visit numerous businesses and places while strolling. There are various side tasks available in addition to the main plot line. These range from rescuing a little child from the clutches of a strange sect, to assisting a robbed new technology fanatic who flaunts a portable phone the size of a TV on the streets, to assisting a punk group looking to impress a frenzied crowd. Side missions are diverse, entertaining, and frequently humorous. Putting them on not only prolong the enjoyment, but also serves as a terrific diversion from the primary narrative. That is why it is worthwhile to roam throughout the city in search of NPCs and become involved in the fate of the citizens. The cities themselves also conceal a plethora of mini-games. We can visit a Tokyo arcade club and play Outrun racing games or have a good time extracting mascots from the machine. We can charm the grocery store clerk, go karaoke, or race radio-controlled small cars when we want to date. There are several alternatives, and while not all of these games are enjoyable, they represent a skillful diversification of the gameplay. It’s difficult to become bored, especially with so many allusions to cheesy 1980s pop culture. While wandering, we encounter both ordinary thugs and yakuza criminals. As you could expect, they all dislike our heroes, so they block our route and begin fighting.
The game then transforms into a traditional fighting game. The opponents attack one at a time, occasionally attempting to encircle the hero. The clashes are vicious and nasty, with trampling on the skull of the criminal lying on the tarmac occurring on a daily basis. There are also plenty of tasty combinations, and the whole affair has the feel of an Asian action film. We will face melee foes as well as those with melee weapons during the conflict. It is incredibly unusual to come across someone carrying a gun, and even if the opponent does, he only uses it on rare occasions. The most enjoyable aspect of the game is punching and kicking each other. Kazuma and Goro can battle in one of three ways. The divide here is very traditional – one type is rapid, the second allows for more effective use of melee weapons or items in the surroundings, and the final one delivers a lot of damage but travels slowly. During a battle, styles can be altered dynamically to adapt to the situation. Furthermore, we equip each of them with additional moves and skills by purchasing them with game gold. All of this contributes to the battle in Yakuza 0 being both effective and enjoyable.
It’s also a shame that the devs didn’t make more use of the 80s vibe. There was no widespread use of music throughout that time period. The acoustic layer is fairly dull, and musical pieces emerge only infrequently – you can sense the untapped potential. Throughout the most of the game, there is either quiet from the speakers or the annoying clatter of successive conversation letters flashing on the screen. Except in meticulously drawn settings, most people are voiceless. It should also be emphasized that Yakuza 0 falls short of today’s Western gaming standards, both technically and in other ways. The first example is a menu straight from the PS2 heyday. Cutscenes are frequently overly lengthy. A half-hour sequence with folks roaming aimlessly and close-ups of a burning cigarette is fairly unusual here. It’s the same with discussions. These are frequently amusing, especially our heroes’ comments, but talks with passers-by that run for many minutes cause us to rapidly stop reading the displayed text of the chat and get frustrated.
Nonetheless, if we ignore the ordinary visual layer and don’t mind the protracted cinematics and slow gameplay, Yakuza 0 will reveal its vast universe to us. This is a really good production that will take hundreds of hours and is the finest opportunity to become acquainted with this renowned Japanese series.