Design a site like this with WordPress.com
Get started

Where It All Began (Yakuza 0) – Game Review

Yakuza 0 is an open world, beat-’em-up game released on different platforms by 2015-21 by SEGA. It is essentially a prequel to the Yakuza series, showcasing events taking place in Japan in the 80s.

The following review was made as per my playthrough on PC. It contains no spoilers to the main story, but just a brief introduction to the characters and the plot. I’d personally recommend you to go through the table given below just to get a better understanding of the hierarchy as portrayed in the game. If the names are hard to remember, you can always scroll back up and see 😉

Tojo Clan

Omi Alliance

(Note that info on the Omi’s hierarchy is limited and of less relevance, for now)

Introduction

As opposed to the traditional solo protagonist stories, Yakuza 0 revolves around the lives of two characters :-

Kazuma Kiryu, is a new member of the Tojo Clan who aims to do anything possible to do right by his father-figure and the man who adopted him, Tojo Clan’s Captain Shintaro Kazama. Following an incident in Kamarucho, (fictional city named after Kabukicho) Kazama gets imprisoned while a 20-year old Kiryu joins the clan.

While doing an extortion job from a loan shark, he beats up a borrower, who coughs up the money eventually. Sometime later, the borrower somehow ends up dead with a gunshot wound. Killing a civilian is not taken lightly by the clan, as all fingers point to Kiryu and his “supposed” mastermind, Kazama. He tries all he can to prove his and Kazama’s innocence by uncovering the killer. He finds himself at a crossroad, whether to join the Clan’s corrupted lieutenants who apparently set him up or to leave the Clan entirely, making them his enemies.

Goro Majima, is an ex-yakuza and the manager of a cabaret, The Grand. After betraying the Tojo Clan’s Shimano Family, he lost an eye and his freedom to go anywhere but Sotenbori (fictional city named after Dotonbori). To get back into Tojo, he is assigned a tall task, to kill a certain Makoto Makimura, who is presumably a human trafficker AKA a bad guy. So, he digs up some info and tracks him down. The plot thickens, as it turns out that the “bad guy” is actually a girl who lost vision in both her eyes due to a psychological trauma.

Seeing this (pun intended), Majima was obviously surprised and hesitant to take her life. Soon enough she gets overrun by some other Yakuza and Majima ends up saving the life of someone he was supposed to kill. Question is, why are different factions of the Yakuza behind such a harmless civilian? Wouldn’t Majima get in trouble for protecting her, thereby betraying the clan again? Decisions decisions….

Kiryu is on the brink of leaving of the clan while Majima is just one step away from joining it. What follows is an excellent narrative on how these two find their way of dealing with problems and doing the right thing. Their paths soon diverge and who knows maybe they even get to meet each other 😉

Gameplay

Yakuza 0 features an exciting open world with tons of substories to complete once you finish the main story (I say “finish” because the story’s really hard to leave unfinished). From getting a Robo Chief toy in Sega© game store’s claw crane to encountering a fortune teller (who may or may not have accurate predictions), such random encounters are fun and differ from the game’s serious plot. What’s more, you can hit a bar, sing karaoke, manage a real estate business and a cabaret club, go fishing, play mahjong and so much more.

As Kiryu, you can fight in different styles (with different moveset) namely Brawler, Rush and Beast. On successfully completing the real estate firm questline, a new style is unlocked, the Dragon of Dojima style.

While as Majima, you use Thug, Breaker and Slugger styles to fight off your foes. After completing the cabaret club questline, you can unlock the Mad Dog of Shimano style.

Since the storyline comprises mostly of long cut scenes and fighting sequences, they are expected to flourish, which they do and amazingly so. The voice actors and characters’ facial expressions are on point and personable. PSA, the game’s voice is entirely in Japanese with optional subtitles (in English and other languages). It may seem like a pitfall at first, but it only adds to the authenticity of the Japanese mob.

As far as the visuals and graphics are concerned, they’re nothing that a mid-spec GPU can’t handle. You may experience some FPS (frames per second) drops in crowded places during daytime and also an over-applied depth of field, which makes everything beyond 20 metres look blurry, EXTREMELY blurry.

To fix that refer to –
https://helixmod.blogspot.com/2019/03/yakuza-0-kiwami.html?m=1=1
(Not a scam)

Verdict

To sum up, I’d give Yakuza 0 –


Released as a prequel to Yakuza 1-6, it is definitely the one you should try first before binge playing the rest. The urban setting is worthy of applause while the story teaches moral values better than you’d expect to learn from a game based on gang wars.
PS – This is not a “Japanese GTA”.

Advertisement

6 thoughts on “Where It All Began (Yakuza 0) – Game Review

Add yours

  1. I love this game so much. I would love to see even a prequel to this, deeper back in the 80s. Maybe the story of Kazama, play as him.
    My only grief with 0 was that even though I loved the Cabaret Club Czar first, later it became tedious. Especially the parts when you have to date the hostesses. It felt like a lot of grinding.
    Same with the real estate minigame, at one point it became a chore, just wandering around in the city so time passes between collection and upgrades.
    Still an amazing game, but this oart gave me PTSD, when I had a cabaret club again in Kiwami 2, I didn’t enjoy it as much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting idea! Since Kazama was a busy hitman, I’d expect Yakuza -1 to have a slightly darker vibe. And we finally get a protagonist who actually killed someone.

      I completely agree with you about the cabaret clubs. They seem fun at first, but the whole training thing & taking them out takes some time. Tbh, I only did them in 0 to unlock “the videos” & in Kiwami 2 just because I liked their karaoke songs. Nevertheless, it’s a good change of pace!

      Real estate management might be the only reason why I finished learning all of Bacchus’ fighting moves & the telephone girls thingy. It’s also the reason I met the fortune teller & she almost spoiled the rest of the Yakuza games with her vision 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic review! I loved the charts showing the hierarchical structure of the families and clans in the game. This is a game I still need to finish. My favorite games from the Yakuza series are Yakuza 0, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and Judgement. I never was able to get into the other ones. I will say the Yakuza games have a lot of depth that I didn’t expect when I first played Yakuza 0. Also, thanks for the advice on the depth of field. That was really informative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind words!

      Finishing the entire Yakuza series does take a lot of time but I believe it’s totally worth it. They’re not complete grindfests unlike other notable beat-em-up games, so I’d definitely recommend you to give the remaining Yakuza titles a go if you find the time.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: