Yakuza 0 serves as the prequel to the long running SEGA crime series: Yakuza, also known as Ryu Ga Gotoku in Japan. It is the perfect place to start for those looking to get into the series which recently became more available in the Western world. Yakuza 0 delivers a compelling story in the late 1980s Japan, following in the footsteps of two Yakuza members: Kazuma Kiryu in Tokyo and Goro Majima in Osaka.
Kiryu’s simple shakedown goes wrong as his target winds up dead the next day, and Majima tries to live a ‘normal’ life as the grand manager of a cabaret club. Not only is there the dramatic main story line to follow, but dozens upon dozens of side stories the player can get lost in to change the pace and see the light-hearted side of the game, as well as being rewarded with useful skills and tools. There are also plenty of mini-games the player can choose to play like fishing, bowling, arcade games and mahjong to name a few. The fighting the game has is fun and rewarding, allowing the player to use weapons as well as the environment to their advantage when the opportunity arises. The graphics also capture the nightlife of 1980s Japan beautifully, characters are also detailed very well.
However, as a Japanese game, there is going to be a lot of reading subtitles and reading dialogue as there is no English voiceover dub – so for players that do not like reading a lot of text, this is not a game for them. In my case, I am fine with reading subtitles so it was not a major issue for me. The pacing of the story may also be an issue for some as it does have a slow start and does not get interesting until around the half-way mark, at that point is where it gets its praise.
Overall, I strongly recommend this game to people that enjoy games with a strong narrative and those that like fighting games. I am playing through the series as SEGA is planning on releasing more Yakuza titles to the PC market.
Overall score: 9.5/10