Last year, SEGA graced the west with Yakuza 0 on PlayStation 4. Upon release, the game was met with universal praise from both fans and mainstream media alike. It’s also highly regarded as one of the best Yakuza games ever released. One year later and Yakuza has finally made it over to PC for the first time and it’s everything we come to expect.
Instead of moving the timeline forward, Yakuza 0 instead tells the story of a young Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima before they became the legendary “Dragon of Dojjma” and “Mad Dog of Shimano” respectively. What starts off with Kiryu completing a simple money collection job for a local loan shark ends up shaping into a scheme set up by people behind the scenes to get the deed to a certain plot of land. For Majima, he was exiled from the Shimano clan due to a past event and he is seeking to get back in anyway he can. At this point, he is offered a simple assassination job and as he goes to complete it, things hit the fan. What is unique about Yakuza 0’s main story is that the plotlines intertwine with each other yet, they stay separate at the same time. Things that happen in one person’s story eventually affects the other’s scenario but, each story has its own set of goals to accomplish and both stories are progressing at the same time. It’s a bit unique as a lot of games in the past has attempted something like this but, either one thing or another falls flat. However, Yakuza 0 nails this aspect and keeps the plot and the format solid throughout the whole experience.
As usual, the OST for Yakuza 0 is spectacular. What is unique about this entry is that each stance in normal battles has it’s own theme song except in long battles where the long battle theme overrides the stance themes. I’ll have to say that my two favorite songs in the entire game have to be “Firelight” and “Two Dragons”, not to say that nothing else stands out. The only sad part about the OST is that “Bubble” was removed from the western versions due to copyright issues but, the new opening is still good!
In the gameplay department, both roaming the town and in combat has been refined from previous entries in the series in a good way. While in the town, Kiryu and Majima can now sprint which is limited by stamina but, these limits can be increased and eventually removed by purchasing upgrades from the CP shop. Speaking of the CP shop, this shop allows you to buy upgrades for the characters that can increase how long you can sprint, how much money you get from defeated enemies along with improving other aspects of the game. While roaming in town, there really civilians that may be getting bullied by Yakuza thugs or other types of bullies, if you choose to help them out and win, they’ll give you items that you can either directly use or sell for money.
I can’t also forget about the various mini-games, old SEGA arcade games, and the cabaret girls. There’s so much to do in this game that you may even forget about the main story for quite some time.
Not new to the series but, heavily refined in 0 are the sub-stories. There’s 60 for Kiryu and 40 for Majima for a grand total of 100. What I like about these quests compared to other games is that they aren’t just “go get this” or “kill x amount of monsters”. Each of these stories that have a problem that needs to be solved and it’s up to Kiryu and Majima to fix them. One of the stories I did with Kiryu was about becoming a director for a movie shoot in a restaurant. After completing this, the real director shows up to harm the film crew. The crew points out that he treated them poorly and Kiryu teaches him a lesson to correct his ways. With Majima, I encountered a story that involved someone creating a fake religion that involved the creator getting a little too physical with the females who fell for his schemes. One of the parents of the girls who joined this “church” recruits Majima to join to find out what happened to the daughter. In the end, Majima calls him out for being a fake, which results in a fight. After winning, his followers find out that he’s a fake and the girl returns to her mother. These are just two stories but, unlike other games, these quests have their own stories that aren’t connected with the main story. They aren’t mandatory yet, once you start completing these quest, you learn more about the citizens of Kamurocho.
When it comes down to fighting thugs or Yakuza, the combat has never felt better. In previous entries, each character had one fighting style that was gradually improved on but, each had strengths and weakness. In Yakuza 0, both characters have 3 main fighting styles with an unlock-able 4th style that is unlocked by completing the cabaret and real estate sub-stories. Brawler and Thug are the basic well-rounded styles that focus one on one fights. Brawler has a few counters that activate on being hit while Thug has grabs that compliment the style. Beast and Slugger are the more powerhouse type styles that are used for crowd control. To make Beast the most effective, Kiryu will need to use weapons such as signs, bikes, and cones to dish out the damage. Slugger allows Majima to get easy guard breaks against opponents that tend to block a lot. Rush and Breaker is a speed style that allows the player to quickly overwhelm the opposition with fast attacks in succession. Rush is definitely Kiryu’s best style due to upgraded damage output, ability to break a guard rather quickly and to dodge quickly out of danger. I enjoyed Majima’s breaker style as it had great ground control and it looks so silly yet practical. The Legend styles for each character is their signature styles from previous entries in the series. I personally haven’t unlocked these yet but from what I understand, they are mostly intact but are missing some key abilities that they canonically haven’t learned yet (i.e Kiryu’s Tiger drop). In regards to upgrades, Yakuza 0 ditches the experience points system and instead allows the player to upgrade character stats via money in a way to “invest in themselves”. You can eventually upgrade health, heat gauge, attack damage and additional abilities that make combat easier. Each style has its own upgrade ring with the outer portions being unlocked with the CP shop and the health and heat upgrades are spread out throughout each style.
For those who have already played the game and is interested in how the game holds up on PC, you have nothing to worry about. Running the game on Ultra settings on my 1070 i7 8700k PC, I had 0 issues or slowdowns during my play time. I initially cranked up the SSAA to 8x but, I noticed a tiny bit of slow down during cutscenes. This something I’m assuming with be ironed out on release via patch from either SEGA or Nvidia. Controls for gamepad are exactly the same as the PS4 version and keyboard controls are also supported here, although it’s highly recommended to play with the gamepad. The default controls for keyboard were a bit weird but luckily, the game allows you to rebind your controls. I ended up moving guard and lock-on to Q and TAB respectively. The game also features window, border-less and full-screen modes along with multiple resolutions up to 4K. All in all, a port is great and you shouldn’t run into any issues on this front.
Yakuza 0 is a fantastic game that anyone can jump into and get lost in for hours without getting bored. Whether you’re in it for the story, the mini games, combat or sub-stories, you’ll be definitely be immersed easily. With multiple resolutions, multiple settings to toggle for the best experience and being able to rebind both keyboard and controller inputs, the PC version is another great port from SEGA.
Yakuza 0 is a fantastic game that anyone can jump into and get lost in for hours.