Game Preview: Yakuza 0

Thanks to the one and only SEGA, Dashing Nerds received an early review copy of Yakuza 0.  We published a full review here, but check out the preview to the game below:

It has taken almost two years for the localization of Yakuza 0 to be released, but just from the first few opening chapters I can honestly tell you it was well-worth the wait.

Yakuza is the prequel to the previous Yakuza games, taking place several years before the rest of the series.The game still follows Kazuma Kiryu, but this time we witness his rise on the streets of Kamurocho, the fictional red-light district where most of the Yakuza games takes place. Yakuza 0 diverts slightly from previous entries as it focuses on only two protagonists–series staple Kiryu and recurring mob boss Goro Majima.

Players are transported back to the far distant year of 1988, and the retrotech is amazing. One scene has an NPC pull out a cell phone – and for a moment, I didn’t recognize it, since it looked like a brick with an antenna. Even some of the terminology feels dated, which does wonders in establishing the setting – which is vitally important in Yakuza 0, almost feeling like a separate character all of its own.

One of the first thing players will notice is how bright the streets of Kamurocho are. Even during the day, neon lights jut out from buildings and assault both the player and Kiryu with advertisements and signage. This makes the map invaluable unless you have a strong understanding of Japanese (I don’t). The other thing players will notice is how dirty Kamurocho is. Street corners are covered in trash, there are papers littering the streets, and homeless people congregate in parks and alleyways. All of this sets the tone of the grime-filled city, and works to enhance the sense of realism the game strives to achieve. Maybe it’s garbage day in Kamurocho, or the town is in a bit of an economic slump, or maybe it’s just a dirty city.

Kamurocho is a bustling city, one that always has something for the player to do. As you explore the various districts, different NPCs will burst from the crowd with one problem or another for Kiryu to fix. Some encounters require players to beat up hoodlums; others require you to complete some outlandish task to solve their problem. One such sidequest had Kiryu help a child recover a stolen video game, only to have the game stolen by another thief just before Kiryu arrives.

Among the busy streets of Kamurocho are a plethora of minigames. While initially a little off-putting, some of them are genuinely fun and work well in breaking up the pace of the game. There are claw games that actually require skill to play, gachapon for random elements, and of course gambling for when you have to earn a little extra cash quick. You can even play some of the games online to compete against other players, though some of these features are separate from the main game.

Yakuza 0’s combat is a finely polished machine, and one that is upgradeable by purchasing new abilities and techniques. Upgrades are purchased with yen, which players earn through combat, mini-games, and by completing missions and chapters. You also use your money to purchase items and equipment, and to play games. There are even clubs you can visit that have an entry fee, and if you can’t pay it you’re thrown back to the streets.

There’s no doubt Yakuza 0 has a lot to offer! If you liked this little taste so far, be sure to read my full review here!

Written by: Ryan Hay

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