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Yakuza 0

龍が如く0 誓いの場所

Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio Publisher: Sega
12 March 2015
Yakuza 0 [龍が如く0 誓いの場所] - cover art
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2,440 Ratings / 15 Reviews
#34 All-time
#2 for 2015
In Kamurocho, Tokyo, low ranking Tojo Clan member Kazuma Kiryu is framed for murder after a debt collection gone wrong, and finds an unlikely partnership with a real estate mogul in a search for answers. In Sōtenbori, Osaka, Tojo Clan exile Goro Majima is offered a chance to rejoin his family, but when the job turns out to be assassinating an innocent blind woman, his morality sets him on his own search. The stories of these two Yakuza legends intertwine for the first time in a prequel set 17 years before the original game.
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After being framed for a client's murder, yakuza member and social extraordinaire Kazuma Kiryu seeks to unravel who exactly did this, while being on the run from the many that now want him dead.
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A dramatic story of struggle and yakuza pride surrounded by side-content that is essentially episodes of The Simpsons.
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MightyWario 2022-05-26T05:14:43Z
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I had no idea what to expect from Yakuza 0. Then again, I’d be willing to bet that a good number of us yanks over in the Western hemisphere also couldn’t anticipate the content of Yakuza 0 when it shipped out overseas two years after its initial release in 2015. The long-running franchise already had an impressive tenure as one of Sega’s exemplary new IPs by the mid 2010s, created after their glorious reign as a console war contender tragically crumbled with the Dreamcast. However, Yakuza’s role in maintaining Sega’s relevance as a humble game developer seemed to only gain traction in their native Japan. This lack of international interest or awareness in Yakuza is probably the reason why it took two whole years for Sega to publish Yakuza 0 outside of Japan in the first place. In fact, Japanese gamers were so seasoned with the series at this point that it behooved Sega to craft a prequel story taking place before the sequential events detailed over the course of five Yakuza titles, hence the “zero” in the title that signifies its primeval placement in Yakuza’s chronology. While Yakuza veterans should ideally be intrigued in witnessing how the characters they’ve come to know (and love?) received their proverbial spots in their amateurish younger days, Yakuza 0 is also a serendipitous title to play for new players such as I to get acquainted with the franchise because the story events occur the earliest in the series timeline. However, plenty of Yakuza fans do not advise diving into the Yakuza series from the Yakuza 0 end despite its convenient, spoiler-free position in the series. There’s a reason why Yakuza 0 was the game that finally reverberated the series notoriety around the globe, for it’s deemed to be the peak of the franchise in terms of narrative, gameplay, and character conceptualization. I will fully trust the reasoning behind the warnings of those with more experience than I, but it’s far too late now. I don’t doubt that Yakuza 0 is the best game the series offers, for it is one of the most immersive and engaging video games I’ve played in recent memory.

Of course, one thing I naturally expected in Yakuza 0 with contextual clues from its title is that the game would involve the gilded Japanese crime organization in some capacity, so I could reasonably anticipate some gangster shit to be a-brewin. The first instance of some mob activity in Yakuza 0 takes place on a brisk December evening in the Kamurocho prefecture of Tokyo in 1988, where mainstay series protagonist, Kazuma Kiryu, is roughing up a civilian who did not pay his dues to the Dojima crime family of which he is affiliated. While we clearly witness that Kiryu only bruised this man to send a message, he then has to explain his actions when the man is found dead with a bullet hole in his head. When the newspapers stamp the man’s murder on the front pages and air its coverage on primetime television outlets with Kiryu pinned as the primary suspect, he ultimately steps down from his position as a grunt within the Yakuza as a preliminary caution to protect his guardian and incarcerated Tojo Clan captain, Shintaro Kazama. All the while, the higher-ups in the Dojima family are working tooth and nail to procure the rights to the coveted “empty lot” located in an unkempt Kamurocho back alley in the interest of bolstering the career of their family patriarch, Sohei Dojima. However, their primary obstacle in achieving this lucrative goal is local real estate magnate, Tetsu Tachibana, and the company of his namesake, who employs Kiryu in his firm to help clear his name of the murder in exchange for his insight and experience as a Yakuza member to use against them. One prevalent sentiment on Yakuza uttered aplenty before I played Yakuza 0 is that the series has a pension for silliness, even at the crux of its narrative regarding the heated acquisition involved with this dinky space not even fit to fill the perimeter of a state college dorm room. However, those who snicker at these dignified businessmen making such a big, billion-dollar fuss over a 500 square foot slab of land have not seen The Sopranos. Potential properties relating to business ventures that seem miniscule from the outside looking in always seem to cause bickering and in-fighting within the mafia syndicate. The results of each civil war power struggle between the families over their capital resources tends to result in catastrophic consequences. If this source of conflict is substantial enough for what is widely considered to be the greatest television series of all time, then why would a mafia-oriented video game series that echoes the same themes be an exception to the rule?

Besides moonlighting as Tachibana’s new and valuable street wise asset, severing ties from the Yakuza has granted Kiryu an abundance of freetime. During the day and in the immediate after hours of dusk, Kiryu is now free to frolic merrily in Kamurocho like Antoine Doinel through the streets of Paris. Actually, a more apt metaphor for Kiryu’s extensive leisure period is that he’s a turd crapped out from the Tojo Clan’s colon that is now free to swim in the toilet bowl that is Kamurocho. Given that Tokyo is the most populated city in the world, much less in Japan, I’m certain that a wide percentage of its prefectures are charming, safe, and exude that spectacle of city magic better than any metropolitan area in the world. However, one can imagine why an area modeled after Tokyo’s red-light district wouldn’t elicit the same sense of urban whimsy. While Kamurocho’s sleaze and prevailing Yakuza corruption isn’t exactly inviting to tourists who are already experiencing uneasy feelings of culture shock, those who seek a thrilling “city that never sleeps” type of atmosphere from their urban adventures will be satiated by Kamurocho’s tower-to-tower, luminescent neon glow with a full-scaled brightness five times the scale of Time Square in New York City. Kamurocho isn’t for the feeble, faint of heart city-goers feeling free enough to twirl themselves around and throw their hat up in the air with reckless abandon. One must constantly take a second glance in every direction to keep cautious of any salacious vagabonds soliciting their bodies or drunken thugs ready to steal your wallet once they’ve knocked you unconscious. One of the city’s more noteworthy residents is a street walker with the nickname “Mr. Shakedown,” a roided-out freak of nature who makes his living by acting as the adult equivalent of a schoolyard bully, frisking everyone for their paychecks instead of some meager lunch money. If he isn’t indicative of Kamurocho’s lawlessness, I don’t know what would serve as a better example. The aura of danger exuding around the entirety of Kamurocho will keep anyone with the will to survive on constant pins and needles. Still, a byproduct of one’s constant alertness is an acquired taste of exhilaration, which is what I always felt while darting around Kamurocho’s alleyways. However, all of Kamurocho’s energetic hustle and bustle is packed together like a can of sardines thanks to the grid-based city design, which does make the layout difficult to commit to memory.

Since Kiryu’s face is frozen to an ultra-serious, ice-cold stoicism, one would think the various vagrants in Kamurocho would give this man a wide berth. The belligerent man who demanded an apology from Kiryu after he accidentally brushed against him nearly turned to stone when Kiryu glared back at him with that sober, stern visage of his. Even though Kiryu carries the demeanor of someone who shan’t be fucked with, this somehow ESPECIALLY paints him as a target for assaults and harassments galore. Groups of delinquents, hooligans, goons, bikers, and every other classification or pejorative term for street gangs uttered by the men of Dragnet and Dirty Harry alike will bumrush Kiryu at the soonest peripheral glance, engaging in the combat portion of the game. It is here with this aspect of Yakuza 0’s gameplay where my preconceived notions that the series was another open-world game cut from the cloth of Grand Theft Auto was proven to be null and void. Instead, Yakuza is an example of a 3D evolution of the beat em’ up genre in the vein of something like River City Ransom. Once the group of street toughs close in on Kiryu, a fight sequence commences between him and at least a trio of violent scumbags, with crowds of enthralled people accumulating around the scene as a circular ring of inescapability from these bouts. In order to continue minding Kiryu’s business, he must beat the everloving tar out of his assailants. While the weapons Kiryu can purchase are certainly potent, their ephemeral degradability forces Kiryu to fall back on his fists and kicks to defend himself, and his hand-to-hand combat is divided up into three distinct styles. Brawler Style is a balanced martial art with average speed and damage, so it’s ideal for new players who need to acclimatize to the mechanics. Rush Style trades the offensive output of the brawler style for speed, with Kiryu delivering a fury of lightning-fast punches and kicks along with a swifter pace of dodge maneuverability. At the other end of the spectrum, the Beast Style sees Kiryu lumbering around the arena with the wide, upright stance of a pissed off grizzly bear, brandishing critical heaps of damage to multiple enemies with a brutal clotheslining. I’m sure one will notice that each style also has a distinct and colorfully fiery aura that emanates over Kiryu in battle. This aesthetic flame signifies that Kiryu can execute a “heat move,” a cinematic sequence that dishes out massive amounts of damage to either a single enemy or a whole group. Kiryu can also pick up a blunt object off the street and incorporate it into this deadly super move. The most common miscellaneous items seem to be traffic cones, flag poles, and some poor bastard’s bicycle that Kiryu can completely shatter into pieces over an enemy. Some of these heat moves are situational, and some are inherent reflexes improvised by Kiryu in tight situations. Unlocking the others requires the additional tutelage of the person that inspired Kiryu’s use of each style when Kiryu funnels an exorbitant amount of money into the branching move pool for each style in the menu. The foreign, nomadic hedonist Bacchus will teach Kiryu the ways of the Brawler Style, the street hustler Kamoji for the Rush Style, and Miss Tatsu, the cutest bounty hunter in Tokyo, will have Kiryu reprimand those with outstanding loans using the Beast Style. As diverse as Kiryu’s battle potency is using a roulette of these three styles, the combat of Yakuza 0 admittedly boils down to a combination of two controller buttons along with the occasional grab. The encounters with these gangs are so frequent and trivial that the player is guaranteed to get sick of dealing with them, even avoiding saving save the skin of some defenseless dude writhing on the ground or a potential rape victim because of how the combat wears out its welcome. Still, the flashiness of the combat with the slapstick appeal of the heat moves will amuse the player for quite a while, and at least the mechanics for each of the fighting styles are all buttery smooth and responsive.

After putting these jokers in their place while they grovel for forgiveness, Kiryu can return to his normal trajectory. A salient, pink marker will be jotted on both the map and the radar signifying where Kiryu must travel to further the plot, which will usually involve a slew of lengthy cutscenes followed by a horde of enemies and or a boss with different situations depending on the current circumstances of the story. One of the only instances that leaves Kiryu directionless is the beginning of the second chapter, and the rare lack of a concise objective to dart towards is really a ploy from the developers to subtly highlight the optional substories. Upon walking about Kamurocho’s various places of interest or really any insignificant slice of any sidewalk, a cutscene will periodically ensue that sets up a predicament for one of Kamurocho’s less oppugnant denizens. Once Kiryu’s interest is piqued, he will talk to the person in order to gather more context on this person’s problem and decide whether or not he’d like to aid them in solving it. Technically, there is no tangible reward that comes with engaging with these substories, and they distractingly deviate from the main story by design. Still, any player who glosses over these minor slices of life around Kamurocho are doing themselves a major disservice because the substories are a riot. Hilarity will ensue when Kiryu trains a prostitute how to denigrate her customers to hone her BDSM kink specialty, or when he conducts a stealth mission en route to a vending machine to procure a pornographic magazine for a curious little boy. Fans of 1980s pop culture will be smirking from ear to ear upon meeting pop sensation “Miracle Jackson'' and esteemed film director “Stephen Spining” as Kiryu does some freelance stunt work involving “fend off attacking zombies” for a music video. Do I have to spell out what every real life counterpart is in this substory? Other substories are surprisingly heartfelt, such as the chain of thefts for a new video game that Kiryu thwarts one by one just to reveal that the last man to nab the game is stealing it for his son who was robbed of that exact copy in the first place. Perhaps the substory where Kiryu halts an underground ring of lady’s undergarment distributors will cause some players to get misty-eyed because he compassionately tells the girl that running this seedy operation is beneath her full potential? A few substories are conditional with fulfilling a friendship arc, coinciding with a meter that fills gradually with revisitations. These include befriending a man who naively sells non-hallucinogenic cooking mushrooms on dingy street corners to a man with the title “Mr. Libido,” whose inexhaustible sex drive has to be fueled by some kind of photosynthetic process. Sixty substories may seem like an overwhelming amount of content to prolong the Yakuza 0 experience, but each miniscule window into the lives of Kamurocho’s average city dwellers expands the scope of the setting beyond the shallow parameters of a sinful playground wonderfully.

After all, arguably the core ethos of the open-world genre is to vicariously supplement reality with an extravaganza of activities. Even if the substories were left on the cutting room floor of development, Yakuza 0 would still offer enough distractions from furthering the main plot for hours, even days, of playtime. Every facet of Yakuza 0 is compartmentalized into a comprehensive checklist. If the player is so inclined, they can order every menu item from a smattering of Kamurocho restaurants that restore Kiryu’s health, purchase mystery items from vending machines at random, and rent a room to watch a softcore porn video tape with a selection of thirty different girls. No, there is no interactive masturbation aspect to this sequence, as Kiryu taking a deep breath while the camera zooms in on a box of tissues when the video ends already breaks the sanctity of character-player interactivity as is. Still, all of these extracurricular outings are only the tip of Yakuza 0’s completionist iceberg, and a plethora of its non-linear diversions from the intended progression are indeed gamified. The amount of minigames featured in Yakuza 0 are so stacked that I’m not sure where to even begin with discussing them. For starters, classic arcade titles like Space Harrier and Out Run are fully playable in two different SEGA HI-TECHLAND arcade buildings, which means the developers have retreated to a blissful, nostalgic alternate universe where they held a monopoly on the video game industry. Other minigames that don’t involve the developers jerking off to their glory days are dancing and karaoke, which both integrate rhythm game mechanics to effectively show off an unexpectedly flamboyant and expressive side of Kiryu. Mixing and matching the appropriate build to win the pocket circuit races is far more complicated than expected, and the pre-Tinder relic that is the telephone club sessions are as pulse-pounding as they probably were for anyone trying to get laid in real life back in the 1980s. As fun little larks all of these minigames are intended to be, one popular topic of discussion between Yakuza fans is which ones they despise. I certainly have my own selection. The batting cages instilled too strict of an error margin, and Shogi/Mahjong were too cerebral to be relegated to a minigame. Really, the notorious pick among the fans of which I’m echoing the contempt just as fervently are the catfights, betting on which scantily-clad tart will beat the other in a wrestling match. Considering that my luck was never in favor for any of the matchups I participated in despite always selecting the girl with the more promising stats, I’m fully convinced that this is one minigame where the odds are totally rigged against the player. I even disliked a number of minigames I mentioned beforehand, but grew to enjoy them as I became accustomed to their mechanics through practice. This learning curve that each minigame presents is a testament to their richness, something that typical minigames rather lack. Each minigame in Yakuza 0 (that isn’t RNG contingent) is impressive enough to hold its own as an individual game separated from the base game it's supporting.

One particular secondary piece of Yakuza 0 side content that I’d classify as a “macro game” is the overarching business side story. While Japan’s economy in the late 1980s is evidently booming to the point where any street commoner will burst with money like a yen pinata when Kiryu smacks them around, the finances gained from fighting are not sufficient enough to maximize his fighting prowess in the menu. In order to fully endow Kiryu, he must make enough money to qualify for the lofty “Forbes Under 30” bracket. Capitalizing on his new occupational venture as a real estate agent, Kiryu establishes his own subsidiary company with the experienced aid of an older man named Yamanoi. Besides raking in gonzo bucks, the primary objective behind this pursuit is to dethrone the “Five Billionaires” that have a stranglehold on each of Kamurocho’s remunerative enterprises (ie. leisure, electronics, pleasure, gambling, and media). In order to seize Kamurocho’s assets back into the hands of the public, Kiryu must negotiate an asking price for a business in a given area. Once the buildings are purchased, Kiryu siphons the shares from that area’s select billionaire, and can finance every individual property to net a higher profit upon subsequent collections cycles. Upon gaining 60% of the shares in a billionaire’s district, they will challenge Kiryu to their forte minigame, and obtaining over 90% of shares results in an all-out brew-ha-ha with the billionaire and their goons for the official title of “area king.” As satisfying as eventually funneling in millions of dollars at the push of a button is, the rinse and repeat process of the collections is a rather tedious affair. All the interactivity involved with the collections amounts to a glorified waiting game where Kiryu has to kill ten to fifteen minutes before he can refresh the funds. I suggest completing “Real Estate Royale” in tandem with the substories and minigames, for they’ll provide enough of an entertaining distraction for the player while the cashflow seeps into Kiryu’s possession. Despite its monotonous gameplay, the business arc still isn’t dry and bogged down by complicated business jargon, so it doesn’t clash with the game’s vibrant and campy tone. Kiryu hires on a goddamned chicken as a manager, for fucks sake.

Between eighteen chapters, one would think they’d have plenty of time to complete everything in Kamurocho and still have enough time to sit around Kiryu’s apartment playing Altered Beast on the new Mega Drive game console (but not really). But alas, when chapter two closes with Tachibana panning his hand over a citywide energy blackout to signify he’s not one for the Yakuza to trifle with, chapter three does not begin with Kiryu waking up to a new day. Instead, the following chapter takes the player to a scene at a bourgeois pantheon of a cabaret club where one of the patrons is doing his damndest to ensure that he gets kicked out. The man is promptly ejected from the classy establishment by its manager, who deals with this unruly dickhead in a manner so professional that it receives a standing ovation from the civilized guests. Fans of the Yakuza franchise will recognize this debonair cyclops as Goro Majima, Kiryu’s series-spanning rival. However, Yakuza veterans still might have to squint, for they usually perceive Majima as the chaotic character foil to Kiryu’s moral broodingness: the Joker to his Batman, if you will. The earliest incarnation of Majima is relatively levelheaded, but he’s still no saint. Unlike Kiryu who resigned from the Yakuza, Majima was dishonorably discharged from the Shimano family after refusing to comply with a job where his oath brother, Saejima, massacred eighteen people and is now facing the death penalty for his killing spree. In addition to the torture the Shimano family inflicted on Majima for his defiance, he must serve out his punishment acting as the manager of the Yakuza-owned Cabaret Grand in Osaka. Sagawa, the Omi Alliance patriarch overseeing Majima at The Grand, sabotages Majima at any instance he makes any leeway out of his unfortunate, purgatorial state of being like the right bastard he is. However, Sagawa suddenly decides to expedite Majima’s sentence to completion if he whacks someone named Makoto Makimura. A desperate Majima accepts the job without hesitation, except that he lets skepticism hinder acquiring his “get out of jail for free” card upon discovering that Makoto isn’t a hard, pipe-hittin’ motherfucker. SHE’S actually a sweet, defenseless blind girl who works as a masseuse. Nevertheless, she’s the target Sagawa wants ousted and judging by how many Yakuza storm her place of work on the same mission as Majima, this girl evidently has more street cred than expected. To ensure that no one compromises his ticket back into the Yakuza, Majima takes Makoto and storms through the Yakuza blockade back to his apartment. As she clutches his leg crying in hysterical terror, Majima unsheathes his blade…as the screen turns to black to begin the next chapter. The thrilling events of chapter four was the point where my investment in Yakuza 0’s story skyrocketed, and I was genuinely disappointed to have the nail-biting climactic point halted by a cliff hanger. All I was concerned about throughout the following section with Kiryu was what decision Majima made!

Yes, as copious as Kiryu’s adventure in Kamurocho is, Yakuza 0 is a tale of two cities where the total content is doubled with the story of another playable protagonist. Yet, the dichotomy is anything but Dickensian. Sotenbori, the entertainment district of Osaka, oozes the same high-octane state of excess and debauchery as its Tokyo counterpart. Another hulking “Mr. Shakedown” figure roams Sotenbori coaxing everyone to hand over their 401k savings. This town’s “Mr. Libido'' is so horny that he is reduced to nothing but his underwear, as if his libidinousness is a raging fever he’ll never sweat off. Much of Sotenbori’s content mirrors that of Kamurocho, but the few distinctive aspects of Majima’s stomping grounds actually make it the favorable setting of the two. For one, Sotenbori’s architectural design is far more accessible. The ritzy district of the north and the narrow residential streets of the south divided by two bridges suspended over the river is vastly less of a chore to navigate and is much easier to map out mentally. The citizens of Sotenbori that aren’t clones of those from Kamurocho arguably make for more amusing substories as well. A few examples of Sotenbori tickling my funny bone include a brash, overbearing middle-aged woman known colloquially as “the obatarian,” who loudly accuses Majima of being a handsy pervert when he chides her for cutting in line at a takoyaki stand. Majima infiltrating a cult to find some woman’s daughter they’ve abducted ends with him rightfully beating its leader’s self-righteous ass into a pulp after stomaching his fabricated, hippy-dippy bullshit to enter their headquarters. His brainwashed followers attempting to treat his wounds with the pseudo mystical practices he taught them while he breaks his cheerful facade trying to tell them he needs medical attention is comedic writing of its highest calibur. Yet, there are still substories that flip the tonal coin to melodrama just as effectively. The man presumed dead who can’t interact with his family in the park because of the fear that exposing his identity will provoke the wrath of the Yakuza he’s hiding from is truly a tragic story that will make the player feel as if someone started cutting onions around them. Truthfully, I tended to procrastinate with progressing Yakuza 0’s story a little longer during Majima’s chapters so I could hang around Sotenbori a little longer.

Perhaps my apprehensiveness with swapping back to Kamurocho stemmed from Goro Majima himself and less from the city in which he resides? Did I gravitate towards Majima because his face wasn’t stuck at a perpetual scowl which made him naturally more charismatic, or is it because we share a monovision kinship that only so few share? A little from column A and B, I suppose, but another admirable aspect regarding Majima is that his combat is a smidge more interesting. Instead of aping Kiryu’s trinity of fighting styles, Majima scrounges up three distinctive martial disciplines from muses around Sotenbori. Thug Style learned from the wise sensei Komeki is similar to that of Kiryu’s brawler style in stature, but it’s not afraid to implement some cheap and dirty maneuvers like poking at an enemy’s eyes when the going gets tough. Fei Hu, the weapons dealer who uses a Chinese restaurant as a front, teaches Majima how to use the tools of his (real) trade in combat with the Slugger Style, namely a metallic baseball bat permanently fused to Majima when using this technique. When Majima witnesses a troupe of break dancing street performers led by Areshi in red, inspiration strikes to transcribe their rhythmic flailing as a fierce offensive maneuver. Somehow, it was a stroke of pure ingenuity. I can’t explain it, but the most unorthodox fighting style with odd flow and acceleration devastates groups of enemies and burly boss fights alike. Goro Majima is the real smooth criminal. In addition to his overall story and setting, Majima’s array of kicking ass is just more interesting than that of the franchise’s principal protagonist.

Majima’s optional business venture is yet another point added to his scoreboard. Given his stellar reputation as the manager at the gilded Cabaret Grand, Majima has enough prestige in Sotenbori’s biggest enterprise to go around. Majima sees a chance to bestow his cabaret business acuity when he witnesses a hapless cabaret club (a smaller version of a full cabaret. It’s confusing.) about to be squished by the slimy tomato that runs the rival Club Mars located around the corner. With his outstanding expertise in the field of classy adult activities, Majima single-handedly becomes the savior of Club Sunshine and their struggling employees, Youda and Yuki-Chan. Beyond quashing the competition that is directly threatening Club Sunshine’s existence, Majima’s cabaret arc extends to defeating the remaining “Five Stars” who own the other planetary/celestial body-themed cabaret clubs around Sotenbori. While Majima’s business seems similar to Kiryu’s because of its arc, the process isn’t simply Majima letting the girls and Youda do their magic and returning to the club to gather the cumulated finances earned. Running Club Sunshine is a legitimate minigame where Majima must proactively attend to the needs of each patron that enters the club for the duration of three (in-game) minutes. Majima will need to match the patron’s preferences in regards to the ladies, which coincide with specific statistics like their charm, looks, or ability to talk a blue streak. Depending on the customer-employee compatibility, the guest will either be ecstatically enchanted and toss their money like bird seed, or they’ll be outraged and give the girl a harsh tongue-lashing and leave in a huff. After a number of sessions converting the would-be patrons of the other clubs with Majima’s excellent service, each owner will respond to these transgressions with a cabaret club duel with all-or-nothing stakes. If Majima successfully earns more money and overall customer morale during these duels, the losing club will totally concede their business along with their BILLIONS of dollars in revenue. Club Sunshine will also absorb that club’s platinum hostess into their roster, which Majima can take aside and train by talking to them in a separate minigame. Majima might tease these beautiful girls a bit, but he never aggressively holds them by their hair and calls them a “buchiach” like other fictional mobsters who operate erotic establishments. I’ve been comparing the cabaret business portion to Kiryu’s real estate side project, but Club Sunshine is honestly the greatest minigame Yakuza 0 offers. I spent hours hiking to and from the Sugita Building out of obligation, but I gleefully sunk as much time into Club Sunshine almost purely from enjoyment. Have I inadvertently discovered my secret calling in life?

Despite the distance that spans over three regions of Japan, Kamurocho and Sotenbori must somehow converge to validate extending the game’s length with content totally removed from where the game began. This isn’t The Godfather Part II, after all. In order to organically connect Kiryu and Majima’s stories, there first has to be differing degrees of shit hitting the fan for both of our heroes. For Kiryu, the Dojima family obviously become indignant upon discovering that Kiryu is actively working against their interests in acquiring the empty lot by fraternizing with their direct competitors. For his perceived double-crossing, the Yakuza mark Kiryu as the target of a city-spanning manhunt, burning down his apartment complex in an obtrusive effort to flush him out. Nishiki, Kiryu’s best friend and Yakuza oath brother, is so concerned regarding how severe the Yakuza’s torture methods will be once they snatch Kiryu that he takes it upon himself to drive Kiryu out into the wilderness at night in an attempt to shoot him as a means of euthanization. Nishiki’s plan would’ve been more efficient if he told Kiryu to look into the woods and think about the rabbits, but I’ll excuse him for not being adept with classic American literature. Tachibana eventually buys Kiryu’s freedom, but Dojima’s three lieutenants are quite a headstrong bunch. Meanwhile, Majima’s moral compass intrudes and decides to instead house Makoto in a vacant warehouse away from the prying eyes of Sagawa and other Omi Alliance members. Only Makoto’s brawny boss, Wen Hai Lee, is a confidant to Majima’s clandestine affairs. However, seeing Makoto as the daughter he never had, Lee goes to drastic lengths to throw off the Yakuza’s scent to Makoto by staging the killing of another girl in Makoto’s clothing. Majima rejects this crazy scheme, but Lee’s plan is still executed by a psychotic Omi Alliance patriarch named Nishitani. Despite the extraneous efforts done to keep Makoto safe, all of it is compromised when one of Lee’s affiliates finks on him to the Yakuza, and Sagawa plants a car bomb that kills Lee and stops Majima and Makoto from escaping Sotenbori. Before Sagawa executes Majima for his duplicity, yet another man looking for Makoto intervenes and walks off with the girl into the sunset. While I wasn’t as gripped throughout the game’s middle sections as I was in chapter four, at least the stimulating momentum never slows to a crawl at any point afterward.

Besides being pushed beyond their comfort zone by troubling circumstances, unraveling each story’s secrets is really what builds a bridge between Kamurocho and Sotenbori. Tachibana drops a few contextual bombs on the player after the tenth chapter, namely, that Makoto Makimura is the legal proprietor of the empty lot upon unknowingly inheriting it from her grandfather’s passing. The reveal that is bound to be more of a shock is that she’s also Tachibana’s estranged younger sister and that he instituted his real estate corporation (with the help of Kazama in the interest of instilling an obstacle for Dojima procuring the lot) as a barricade preventing the savage Yakuza from harming his sister. His chairman, Mr. Jun Oda, was the “man with the bat tattoo” who sold his sister into sex slavery, an experience that traumatized her to the point of PTSD-addled blindness. That should give you an indication of how impenetrable he is as a roadblock. Once Sera from the Nikkyo Consortium passes her on to Kiryu after taking her from Majima, what would be a cheerful reunion between Tachibana and his sister is halted when Lao Gui, a notorious hitman on Dojima’s payroll and the actual culprit behind the murder Kiryu was framed for, corners Tachibana in the tight corridors of Little Asia. Unfortunately, Kuze’s torture techniques prove fatal for Kiryu’s new boss, and Makoto is tearfully reunited with her brother’s lifeless body. Now, cue Majima’s role in Yakuza 0’s climax as he fails to prevent Makoto from acting on any hasty decisions regarding her brother’s demise. To end her suffering and stop this whole charade, she attempts to sell the lot off to Dojima, but at the price of killing his three lieutenants for brutalizing Tachibana as the dire condition of her negotiation. Of course, Dojima doesn’t forfeit his men and has Lao Gui do away with Makoto with a single shot from his pistol. Makoto miraculously survives due to Japan’s advanced medical care, but this action is the final straw that inclines Kiryu and Majima to confront all the men responsible. Kiryu dukes it out with a newly promoted Captain Shibusawa on a yacht sailing out to sea while Majima faces off against sleazoid Awano and East Asia’s own professional boogeyman, Lao Gui, in the Dojima family headquarters. While all of this violence is ensuing, Sera manages to successfully purchase the lot from Makoto, leaving all the men involved in this whole charade with their tails in between their legs.

What tends to confuse the Yakuza fanbase is the resolution that follows all of this madness. Kiryu decides to rejoin the Dojima clan, while Majima dons his “mad dog of Shimano'' outfit, ushering in an unhinged era of his life familiar to all returning Yakuza fans. Kiryu’s reasons for reverting back to the ranks of the Yakuza are made clear over drinks with Nishiki at Serena, but Majima’s incentive for discarding his respectable persona is lost in the fog. I think these two young men have hit a pivotal point in both of their lives because of the empty lot ordeal and have externalized their experiences differently. They’ve both learned that the organized crime institution where they were both cogs is not an illustrious, venerated lifestyle: it’s a maelstrom of ego-oriented destruction where innocent blood is spilled on a daily basis and oathbound bonds mean nothing if it gets in the way of obtaining power and influence. They’ve both been played as fools by bad men, but utilize the lessons they’ve learned with dissimilar approaches. Kiryu has learned that Kamurocho is not balanced on a black-and-white spectrum where the Yakuza are the sole poison to an otherwise spotless society, so his goal is to improve the defective institution that will improve society. Where Kiryu comes out optimistic, Majima now sees things through a nihilistic lens. The Yakuza are now ugly and corrupt to Majima, but the traumatic thing that unscrewed a bolt in his brain was in their treatment of Makoto. To harm something as precious and innocent as Makoto is as sinful as killing a mockingbird, and the fact that Majima was the only man in the interest of protecting someone so lovely and pristine among his peers probably sent him over the edge. In his new outfit, he encounters Makoto with restored sight and asks her current boyfriend if he’ll protect her at all costs. He claims he will, but I don’t think Majima is easily convinced. He believes that honest, good people are a rare breed in this world, and no shortage of detestable ones. Since he was played for as a sap constantly as the moral minority, he figured, when in Rome. Kiryu and Majima are similar characters throughout Yakuza 0, but it's their attitudes that expose their character foils at the end.


Yakuza 0 has left me completely exhausted. However, it’s not a state of pained fatigue. You know how it feels to come home after a full, rich day of frivolity? You cannot wait to rest your feet, yet a sense of satisfaction fills your eventual rest. A full, rich day consists of a myriad of actions and pastimes, and that is exactly what the open-world genre sought to emulate in its earliest form. Never have I played any other game in this genre that replicated the extent of the open-world ethos as closely as Yakuza 0 does. Kamurocho and Sotenbori offer so much in the realm of content, whether it be the minigames, substories, business undertakings, and all other facets of its gameplay that the player could potentially sink their teeth into, and time will pass on by without the player being aware of it. And to think that at the helm of all this optional merriment is a story so well written and engaging that calling Yakuza 0 "Japanese Sopranos" wouldn’t be inappropriate. I invested at least a hundred hours into Yakuza 0, more so than the average time to complete the events of the main narrative, because I hadn't been this engrossed with a game's world, story, or characters to this extent in years. I realize that what I feel for Yakuza 0 is most likely the peak of elation the series offers and all other titles will not deliver on the same standard of quality. Still, how could I not be at least a little curious about how the rest of the series pans out, considering that Yakuza 0 has hooked me like crack cocaine? I yearn to see a grizzled Kiryu in his later years, even if I can't expect to treat all the other titles like a fully-fledged immersion tank. Nothing in the franchise can be its prequel, and not many other open-world games can transcend it either.
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Erockthestrange 2024-04-16T06:57:56Z
2024-04-16T06:57:56Z
9.5
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Thrilling, heavy, and a bargain
Yakuza 0 is an extremely fun action game that saddles absurdity between heavy drama. Led by two very different, but equally lovable, protagonists, the game tells a story from differing perspectives. Graphically it's a little dated, but the soul of the game makes up for it. Oh yeah, the mini-games are fantastic fun to break up the heaviness of the story.

Runs great on older hardware, and the Steam Deck. It also regularly goes on sale for less than $10. Absolute steal.
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Unveiling the Awful-Mess of Yakuza Zero
I decided to write this review because i noticed an apparent lack of critical opinion on Yakuza 0 and i wanted to share my disappointing experience with it, to resonate with whoever feels the same about it.
After countless recommendations from friends to play the "supposed masterpiece" Yakuza 0, i finally bought the game and with much excitement i threw myself into it hoping for the best, little did i know that it would turn to be one of the most disappointing games i have ever played!
I just couldn't believe, all this praise and i kept looking for it, where does it come from? i couldn't understand, all i found was a total mess of a junk and tedious game.

Yakuza 0 is an action-adventure beat em up game about tough guys with angry faces solving everything by having street fights, at first the game does a good job of hooking you with its intriguing cutscenes and premise, however just after few hours the game issues start to appear and bring the experience down, which i'll explain why soon below.
The game follows the story of Yakuza members Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima and their interactions with the various Yakuza clans and their plots.

**Gameplay**

Yakuza 0 is a story-driven game first and foremost, however the game puts a significant emphasis on its gameplay time, and in my opinion its not good at all.

-Controls-
The game controls in third person perspective, i absolutely hated it, the controls are clunky and moving around with the character feels heavy and off, just doing a simple circular movement is extremely unresponsive and lags with input delay, this could be argued that it was done on purpose to give the game a realism momentum however this goal has failed because the animation was stiff and poorly designed to reflect on that. The poor feel of the movement is further highlighted in the combat system, where moving around is unresponsive and stiff to the point that it messes up the targeting system and the hitbox system, which gets me to the 2nd point.

-Combat-
When it comes to story-driven games im not so harsh/demanding on the combat system being fully mechanical and deep, however the story in Yakuza 0 wasn't good and didn't succeed in saving the awful combat system for reasons i shall mention later.
Combat in Yakuza 0 consist of styles for each character, each character has about 3 (+1 extra) style of beat em up combat, and i have to admit, coming from a game like God Hand, those styles suck, they are very shallow mechanically with low skill ceiling for combos, mechanics, synergies and execution. While the cutscene finisher can look badass, the actual input in the fight amounts to very superficial combos, which can consist of mashing Square x3 with a Triangle x1 then triggering a mini-cutscene which plays for you as Kiryu/Majima finishes up the thug in style.
Sadly, after few hours the novelty of those badass cutscenes starts to ware-off and what is left is a very braindead, easy, boring and repetitive combat system that feels awful because the game LOVES to shove in your face the same boring thugs over and over, with their braindead A.I and boring attacking patterns that keeps repeating itself for 50+ hours. Suffice to say the combat does not sustain the long game
Combat issues become even worse when you highlight that enemy variety is near 0, there is no different enemies to spice up the combat system, contrary to other games that may have mediocre mechanics, they can at least offer a variety of different enemies to keep the experience somewhat fresh or exciting. Yakuza's enemies are just the same thugs you beat with either a melee blunt weapon, a gun or their bare hands, this gets tedious and tiring just early in the game and you are forced to put up with this awfully shallow system for the rest of it.
Controls being stiff that mess up the targeting system and the hitbox being horrendous makes the combat even more disastrous, and to top it all off the boss fights are more of the same, i lost count to how many times i had to kick Kuze's ass, Mr.Shakedown in particular was a cakewalk, simply because even with the easy shallow system the game allows you to pause to the screen and freely heal the damage and put up whatever heat buffs you want which even solidifies my verdict on it.
Perhaps if the character progression was done better then it could have saved the combat system but alas it was just as bad.

-Character Progression-
Yakuza 0 is not a RPG, however it does try to implement RPG elements such as leveling up and a skill tree to progress the character and develop its gameplay systems.
Unfortunately, the game fails at creating an engaging leveling system, to unlock skills and abilities the player must purchase the skills with money earned from quests and side content, which is an abysmal design choice, as the game encourages grinding through minigames or grinding through its awful combat system, and money is plentiful which makes the challenge of unlocking the skills not rewarding and feeling half-assed and weird, who tf buys skills for money? lol.
Each style has a skill tree, the problem is the skills are shallow, the progression amount to the same things over and over, passive skills that are boring and very stat check, with the exception of a few new mechanics that you can use, which is way inferior to the basic combo that you will repeat anyway, so there is no reason to use them.
More HP, More Dmg, More Heat... this is basically what skill progression is in the game, which is lame and boring. Any other game with the same design gets shredded but this one gets a pass on its awful combat and progression systems.

-Mini-Games-
One of the highlights of Yakuza 0 is its countless minigames spread throughout the game, from 8Ball to Bowling to Darts to Mahjong to Cabaret to Estate manager to Karaoke, there is a lot of side activities in the game, and i have to be fair here, while i dislike minigames in general and i find most of them to just be lazy copy-pasted games from the real world that are designed to just waste the player time and fill the game with filler, in Yakuza's defense the minigames are good distraction and flesh out the world more and give it life and purpose, i dont give the game high credit for it, but i must say that its approach to this aspect was done right, i just wish there was more creative games and less generic ones, nothing special to say here, if you played those games anywhere else, the rules are the same, its just in Yakuza's world, they are designed to give you money and few chuckles, but thats where it ends, their value to the game is insignificant to me, and if i wanted to simply play 8Ball i will go to any flash website and do it there, why buy a game just for that, so what im trying to say is that while they are good extra content, they cannot save the game for me.
Personally i didn't enjoy most of the minigames with the only ones i liked being Cabaret and Karaoke.
Anyway, there is not much to criticize here since the game basically adapts popular games from the world and put them here without much innovation or thought.

Overall, i have to say the Gameplay aspect of Yakuza 0 is pure junk, its poorly designed, its tedious, its not satisfying and ultimately its boring.


**Writing**

I don't know where to start, the writing in the game is a total mess, and the story is such a trainwreck that barely hold itself together. This is very frustrating for me because this is supposed to be a story-driven game, heavy with texts and cutscenes that it can feel like a movie or a tv drama sometimes, yet the writing does everything in its power to bring it down.

-Story-
The story of Yakuza 0 starts with engaging premise, a group of Yakuza clans fighting among themselves to secure a empty lot, which is of very and utmost importance to the huge project they are looking to build in the city, Kiryu does a shady deal there and is framed with the killing of a citizen in the area, few hours later he finds out he has been kicked off the clan, and things get complicated and stakes start to go up. This is an interesting premise that admittedly hooked me right from the start, however with slow pacing and a lot of over the top moments it started to pull me out of its stakes, furthermore the game after Chapter 6, goes full trainwreck and starts to mess things up with inconsistent writing, for characters, plotholes, contrived writing, deus ex machina, plot armor and nonsensical progression.
This tone stays like that up until the ending which i also didn't like the conclusion and the catharsis for the characters was massively disappointing as well.
One of the excuses i saw online was that its a prequel to an already established series so that has its limits, but my answer to that is the writers can easily come up with alternative solutions and plot-points but they instead didnt and resorted to rather lazy and contrived plot device threads that killed any sense in the story.

Here are some examples of nonsensical plot points that prevented me from enjoying the game anymore and ruined whatever premise it sat up for it.
((Spoilers))


1- During the game Majima was hiding Makoto and was working to get her out to safety, yet right before they escape it appears that his partner Sagawa knew of his plan, this was not explained, when and how did he know that Majima was planning to escape?



2- Right after he caught them escaping he fires shot at Majima and proceeds to kill him for lying to him, at that moment Sera appears and shoots Sagawa near the heart, a fatal wound, leaving him dying on the ground, he takes Makoto with him and leaves, the issue here is right after that we get a scene where Sagawa is torturing Majima all alive and well, and actually in great shape, how did he survive the shot when we clearly saw the blood?



3- Later in the game Kiryu get banished and declared wanted dead or alive to the top of Dojima clans, they give a universal order to everyone to capture him, at one moment Kiryu was cornered by high ranking Yakuza officers and their lapdogs, so he was pretty much screwed and is either forced to surrender or fight back and die(thats after Kuze gets to toy with him again), in that moment Kiryu decides to not fight but the issue here is that the high ranking Yakuza members are just watching him making edgy poses and threats again and again, so Tachiban breaks in with his car and rescues Kiryu literally infrornt of them lmao, and then after he rides on with the car they finally pull out their guns and shoot at them but ofcourse they miss every shot, so how can high ranking Yakuza members be so much incompetent and bad at their job when this kind of job requires you to be merciless, ruthless and clever to climb up and survive? seems to be like a silly plot armor that fails to impress an asspull.



4- So Majima went with this officer or someone at the Police station to get a meeting with Nishitani in his prison cell, there they get pass the cop by giving him enough money to help his daughter who study at a college, after fighting and talking in the cell because apparently everybody needs a round of fistfighting before they talk in this game, so they open the cell and get out, the problem here is Nishitani men just disappeared?! they went Woosh, gone, they go out and suddenly this cop does a 180 turn and shoots the guy that came with Majima and proceed to shoot Nishitani, because apparently he NEEDED more MONEY, lol, a really lame asspull but whatever, so he shoots this Nishitani dude and then stops in shock and waits for him to murder him? why? he could have shot him on the head and escaped alive, that scene alone has like 3 plot holes.



5- Apparently this series loves to kill characters then revive them, i love Legend of the Galactic Heroes, theres a comment there "if it was a third rate tv series characters would come back alive after being killed" which came to my mind occasionally while playing Yakuza 0, so they went to Sera mansion and there after questioning him, Sagawa comes from the back and again shoots him a fatal wound making him fall on the ground dying, alone, yet somehow few moments later Sera comes back alive and saves the day! it seems like a regular thing at this point. So how did he survive and how is this guy always on time at the best moment?



6- The chinese hitman who is considered to be the best hitman in the world, ruthless, extremely professional and deadly, needs to capture Tachiban alive, but he shoot Kiryu without killing him, this makes me think he is rather incompetent or did it on purpose, which is weird, why didnt they get rid of Kiryu since this dude keeps getting in their way and ruins their plans, and if he wanted to kill him doesnt that makes him lame and unprofessional? and if that was one rare mistake, later he did the same with Makoto and surpassingly she survived the shot, is this guy really good or what? or did i miss anything here?



7- After rescuing Makoto and when she was in Osaka, they could sign the lot to Sera and save a lot of hassle but somehow they didnt and waited for the end of the game where many unnecessary gang wars and conflicts were made, why didnt they sign it earlier when they had a pretty good time for it? looks like a plot convenience more than anything



8-One thing i didnt like was the characterization, its very inconsistent and hardly makes sense, like Awano being edgy for no reason and killing that girl to scare Kiryu off despite him knowing Kiryu doesnt give a fuck about that, and many other examples, but one highlight is Oda, you see Oda appears to be a complex character but the last arc totally ruined his character, so he was fake working with Shibusawa and probably was conflicted to remove Makoto by telling the gang where she is and guarantee nobody finds out he was the one who sold her to get abused, right before he dies he keeps swearing he loves Tachiban and he is ultimately loyal to him, yet in the game he did leak their hidden location in little asia and screwed them over and wasnt really needed for what he was aiming to do, why did he do it if he was on Tachiban side all along, seems to me like an out of character moment and yet another asspull just to push the story forward.


And there is more, i found the plot of the game to be poorly written and filled with issues that really annoyed me, i expected a lot better from a game rated this high.

-Characters-

Similar to its story, the characters in Yakuza are halfassed and the only thing going for them was their posing and meme generator, okay im exaggerating a bit, i think Goro Majima is an interesting character and by far the best one in the game, followed by Tachiban, the rest of the cast were all either a mediocre shallow characters or simply a plot device with nothing else going for them, a lot of characters exist in the game just to solve any issue the writers may come up with, revive a character from the dead? no problemo! a 180 sudden change in a character so that we can make le plot twist?? no problemo! a characters that keeps talking trash without any acting and keeps bluffing for the million time already expecting it to work?? no problemo! after all these supposedly clever Yakuza members are ruthless and high ranking, NOT HERE, there are just cartoonish shounen characters who just do poses and be stupid punching bags for the hero., majority of them feel under-developed too, they just exist to carry the plot forward and what a shame as the plot turned out to be a mess.

-Sub-Plots-

I heard a lot of praise for the side quests of Yakuza 0, i was quite excited to complete them, however just after doing a bunch of them i started scratching my head thinking is that it? where did all this praise come from? for some of the most mundane, shallow and stupid side quests. To me a side quest should at least offer
- developing side or main characters arc
- has impact and ties to the main story
- has engaging and worthwhile plotline of its own
- offers choices and consequences, aka branching paths
- fleshes out the world and its lore
- gives you different gameplay tools
- gives you good rewards
Yakuza 0 side missions do nothing of that, i spent hours doing them because of the praise they got but all i got from them is filler gag comedy missions.
They also all play out in the same repetitive and predictable manner, a random strangers stops you, start talking some nonsense you dont care about and then presents you with a silly story.
For example: I was walking around with Majima, in a hurry to solve an urgent issue that threatens your career, then suddenly a random girl stops you walks up to you and wants you to pretend to be her boyfriend??!!. Then you sit there at the table she tells you what to do, you do what she tells you its like an exam for elementary school you remember the lines you are supposed to say then you say them infront of her father. Then her father tells you ok i knew you are acting and lying but im glad about that and i want you to be her boyfriend in real. Then you disagree and leave, its like...WTF what that?!

Another example is that dad who was stalking a girl working at a nightclub, he though it was his daughter so Kiryu passes by and sees him stalking her and asks why, long story short it appears this old man lost his daughter and is looking for her, a generic and shallow premise yet is interesting enough to make you care and help him, i went there to ask the girl and i was excited to see where was this going, you click on the dialogue boxes until you get to choose from 3 lines that leads you to know that her age and situation EXACTLY matches the description, Kiryu got her name that she goes by in the club because they want to avoid creeps so it makes sense, but imo he should have asked for her name, you dont get that option because few minutes afterwards they confront each other the dad and the girl and after setting up an emotional moment it goes YOINK TADA its just a prank bro, its not the girl, despite the story being very similar imagine this, i get that the quest is supposed to be a prank and a silly one at that, but this and in addition to many other stories i did, are in my opinion not worthy of such praise, those are just random filler stories without any writing or gameplay quality to back them up, if at least you get more choices and consequences or some character development or some meaningful impact of the game's world then i can get behind the praise but when its just filler gag episodes it just feels weird.


The game is filled with those gag comedy pranks that amount to nothing except giving you a few chuckles, after such a high praise i expected way better than this mess, i can give tons of other examples such as stopping by to help a random street rock band, or to deal with a girl who sells her underwear (by the way the game is filled with perverted content, its so uncomfortable and weird).

Suffice to say after trying a lot of side quests i decided to start ignoring them, the quality is simply very low. People say they like them precisely because of that weird prank tier content, but if i wanted memes i will browse 9gag or something, i just dont agree that this content makes a good side quest and i honestly question whoever praises it.


Overall the writing in Yakuza 0 is a total mess and epically fails to save the game from its poor gameplay, its a trainwreck with good premise and charming introductions and poser scenes, that ultimately crashes and burns as soon as its first impressions ware off, the writing ranges from mediocre to downright insulting, and i was very disappointed by it.

**Presentation**

Yakuza 0 is known for being heavy on cutscenes, sadly the presentation does not keep up, its inconsistent, for example you will be in the middle of some intense cutscenes, then after a minute the game freezes, goes black and then takes you back to the usual static faces and dialogue boxes that lack voice acting and has this annoying keyboard typing sound, the cutscenes are long but they are poorly directed, if you are a cinematic director this is not a good way to present your scene, you have to commit, either keep it dialogue only or cutscene only, this weird mish mash of cinematic and static ruins the immersion, kills the tension and makes the flow of events laughable.
Aside from its poor directing, the game has barely average voice acting, subpar graphics, subpar animations, and mediocre audio design.
I think its suffice to say even for its hardcore fans that Yakuza presentation is not up to the standard level, its not amazing thats for sure, but even as a standard for story heavy games i would say its mediocre, there is simply lack of good and consistent direction, for each Majima Introduction scene or a Kiryu->Kuze punch there is hundreds of poorly directed scenes that flips back and forth.
Thanks to its subpar animations, mediocre sound design and poorly thoughtout camera angels, the presentation failed to grab me most of the time, with my sole favorite scene in the game being the intro in Chapter 3 (Majima's Cabaret).

**World Design**

The hub area of the Yakuza games looks full of life, thats a plus, but sadly, how you interact with it is barebones, you can't jump around, you can't interact with NPCs, you can't interact with the levels, its all linear hallways, even in the quest you have to exactly follow the line, you can't stray from the path, its a shame because this cool looking place is just there as a setdressing, even Ubisoft style of games have more interactivity and better level design than this, the exploration of the hub-area is not worth it as you won't get worthwhile loot from exploring or any meaningful discovery, all you are going to find is more and more thugs to punch.
Sure you can go inside shops and restaurants but those places fall back into the same initial problem and thats generic design, and nothing to do, in the restaurant all you are doing basically is click on the menu and choose a meal, then watch a poorly made cutscene where Kiryu/Majima eat their food. All you ae going to do is follow a path from A to B and do Quests which all follow the same repetitive gameplay formula, what is left are the stories and i found them meh as i explained above.
Some people may claim that set-dressing creates more immersion and they are right! however thats a minimal immersion that is immediately shattered by any kind of interaction with it, its static and noninteractive nature basically takes away a lot from the immersion power its potential may hold.

Overall the world design in Yakuza 0 is shallow and serves the game just for the setdressing and nothing else, its basically Ubisoft with inferior scale and more minigames, no thanks i'd rather go to Japan, compared to games like GTA, it feels lifeless and plastic.


**Verdict**

Finally here we have my verdict on the game
I guess im a Yakuza hater at this point, i expected a good game especially after tons of hype and promises that this is the game, only to find it super underwhelming and actually bad, Yakuza 0 left a bad taste in my mouth, and i even started to resent it more because every time i criticized this series i was met with memes and driveby posting, trying to dust off the flaws of the game under the rug.
I seriously find the lack of critical analysis towards this game alarming, its a really annoying circlejerk, for a long time i kept questioning why is this game so beloved? what makes it really good? and i failed to come up with actual reasons, until i saw that its a meme generator for Twitter and Reddit users, so i guess this must be the reason.

To conclude Yakuza 0 is a massive disappointment and a poorly designed game through and through, from its janky and shallow gameplay systems to its messy poorly written story, to its subpar presentation and its generic world design, to its tedious game design choices and horribly looking UI, i declare that Yakuza 0 is a bad game and one of the worst "acclaimed" games i have ever played that i kept trying to force myself to love, only to hate it even more!

This marks the end to my huge rant, so thank you for bearing with me through this, thank you for reading!
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PiccoloZ 2022-11-07T23:05:56Z
2022-11-07T23:05:56Z
1.0
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A monumental reboot
So I got introduced to RGG’s work through Judgement and Lost Judgment. While finishing those games I had no idea they were based on the Yakuza universe. I was a big fan of those games so I played Like a Dragon as well. I thoroughly enjoyed all these games and I made up my mind that I will begin my journey in playing all yakuza games starting with Yakuza 0. This game is amazing, everything from the lighting, the combat and the mechanics lend to such an interesting experience. The story is pretty strong as well. You switch back between Goro and Kiryu until they become interconnected in the end. While I think game is phenomenal, I do have some minor critiques. One is the lack of depth. I don’t blame RGG at all for this. I got a little spoiled with the later games and their immersion that when I went back I was a bit disappointed in the level of depth within the gameplay. However this criticism is very minor and I still think this game is Amazing. All in all I’m excited to continue my journey with Yakuza and I can’t wait to begin playing Kiwami.
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aziz713 2023-12-05T02:20:02Z
2023-12-05T02:20:02Z
4.5
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Yakuza/Judgment is the greatest game series ever made
Yakuza 5
Lost Judgment
Yakuza Gaiden
Yakuza 6
Yakuza 0
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Sleeping Dogs
Yakuza 4
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Catalog

kirumi 龍が如く0 誓いの場所 2024-05-25T18:24:24Z
2024-05-25T18:24:24Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
joxval 龍が如く0 誓いの場所 2024-05-25T01:30:04Z
2024-05-25T01:30:04Z
4.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
thatmusicguy 龍が如く0 誓いの場所 2024-05-24T17:14:19Z
2024-05-24T17:14:19Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Fabrizio7 龍が如く0 誓いの場所 2024-05-23T16:32:38Z
2024-05-23T16:32:38Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
wuggy 龍が如く0 誓いの場所 2024-05-23T07:06:27Z
2024-05-23T07:06:27Z
B+
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
BurgurBurgur Yakuza 0 2024-05-22T06:02:02Z
Windows
2024-05-22T06:02:02Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Want to Play
Diveslow 龍が如く0 誓いの場所 2024-05-21T22:19:48Z
2024-05-21T22:19:48Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
edef_ 龍が如く0 誓いの場所 2024-05-21T20:21:28Z
2024-05-21T20:21:28Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Invedit Yakuza 0 2024-05-21T17:43:18Z
Windows
2024-05-21T17:43:18Z
5.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Innerexperience 龍が如く0 誓いの場所 2024-05-21T16:28:52Z
2024-05-21T16:28:52Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
pinkultra 龍が如く0 誓いの場所 2024-05-21T05:33:16Z
2024-05-21T05:33:16Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
leche 龍が如く0 誓いの場所 2024-05-19T22:35:27Z
2024-05-19T22:35:27Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
CERO: D
Player modes
1-4 players
Media
1x Blu-ray
Multiplayer options
Online
Franchises
Also known as
  • Yakuza 0
  • Like a Dragon 0: The Location of Oath
  • Ryū ga Gotoku Zero, Chikai No Basho
  • View all [3] Hide

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  • Previous comments (107) Loading...
  • MusicN00b 2024-02-05 22:28:23.341342+00
    FRIDAY NIGHT.
    reply
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  • wintertriangles 2024-02-24 02:57:26.875782+00
    lol as a translator, it's one of the few games out of japan whose translation isn't total ass
    reply
    • Xaman_ 2024-03-02 03:53:33.965093+00
      I believe it.
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • renegadexavier06 2024-03-07 14:56:53.321567+00
    Scratch my last comment.
    "Q: What is the white stuff in bird poop?
    A: That is bird poop, too." - Kurt Vonnegut
    reply
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  • CHUCKPERSON 2024-03-29 16:44:52.860477+00
    plot was interesting enough and gameplay was ok. dont get the massive praise tho
    reply
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  • renegadexavier06 2024-03-30 16:37:20.216976+00
    I'll dump this into the review section when I'm finished with the game but I'll just dump my thoughts here as I play through the game.

    Chapter 1 notes:

    - I should probably stop assuming every game tagged "Open world" will feature a large, sandbox map. The map in this game is comparatively small and serves more as a "hub" world, really. This doesn't detract anything, in fact, it's probably better that way as the tighter map design has less meandering exploration between destinations.

    - JFC, there's so many cutscenes and so few gameplay. Some of the cutscenes (especially the more cinematic ones) are solid and hook me in but a lot of them are just these dialogue marathons that makes me want to speedread it so I can beat up more dudes. I don't want to skip the cutscenes as I'm invested in the plot and want to give this game a chance but I feel this is going to be a slog to get through.

    - Real estate is serious business, no matter the size (Muh empty lot)

    - The combat seems to be okay, but, I feel my thoughts will soon reflect PiccoloZ's as the timing and movement feel very off atm (and this is coming from the same user who thinks Wrestling Empire is awesome as fuck).

    - Considering how the internet loves to portray this game as "wacky Godfather clone", I expected the drama and comedy aspects to be simultaneously present, causing emotional whiplash after emotional whiplash. Fortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case.
    The main story seems to be purely drama while all the funny stuff (that gets shitposted) is left for you to discover in-between missions/cutscenes. However, I should probably expect the two to converge at certain points, like how when Nishikiyama and Kiryu decide to sing on the karaoke to cope with their criminal lifestyles early on in the chapter. For now, I'll set aside the comedic elements and focus on the main story but I might change my mind about that sooner or later.

    - I wasn't too thrilled by the story or combat throughout the chapter up until the Tojo Clan HQ sequence. Raiding through the building and beating that old man's ass was so energetic. I hope the game lives up to this set piece.
    reply
    • PiccoloZ 2024-04-29 20:24:34.513357+00
      There is nothing open world about it, its just hub-based areas which i think is the best design choice to make a game as it can blend between the best of linear and open ended world design, it can remove the bloat and at the same time gives a sense of focus for the player on the area, sadly here it wasn't done in a good way given the world is just a set-dressing for the player, giving visuals and spots for minigames, but nothing is interactable with it.
      Its like not even as good as Ubisoft design when it comes to a depiction of a city.

      The cutscenes will becomes less as the story progresses, but they are still too many, which is fine, a story-driven game has to make lots of cutscenes to convey its storytelling, i just wish the presentation was better because i absolutely didn't like the constant change in direction.

      First few chapters are engaging, its not until later that the game story starts to crack and fall apart, i think up until chapter 6 its pretty good, then from chapter 8 all the way towards the end it becomes a trainwreck.

      Looking forward to read your take on it once you are done with it.
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • INoLuv 2024-05-04 20:34:05.883976+00
    Exceptional game, just like most yakuza games
    reply
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  • Innerexperience 2024-05-21 16:50:04.393947+00
    Absolutely amazing storytelling in these games! The gameplay is rather mediocre, but the story takes these games to a whole new level!
    reply
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