independent

Sunday 25 February 2018

Yakuza 0 a tremendous feat of game design

By Chris Hayes - Game Review

Money is everywhere in Yakuza 0, which offers a unique glimpse of 1980s Japan, a country undergoing considerable economic boom.
Money is everywhere in Yakuza 0, which offers a unique glimpse of 1980s Japan, a country undergoing considerable economic boom.

While the Yakuza games have a huge following, they are probably some of the most inaccessible titles for the potential new fan. Yakuza 5 had no less than four separate protagonists, along with a myriad of secondary characters and a multi-stranded plot that would confound anyone not already familiar with the series.

Enter Yakuza 0, a game that offers an alternative and modern point of entry into the series for newer players, and a storyline that is extraordinarily good - even for a Yakuza game, famed for their stellar narratives.

Yakuza 0 offers a unique glimpse of 1980s Japan, a country undergoing one of the greatest economic booms in its history. Money is everywhere in this world.

Yen is the bread and butter of your character, allowing you to upgrade your ability and skill trees, and you will have to gather as much of it as possible if you are to keep up with the demanding hand-to-hand combat that has become synonymous with the Yakuza games.

In this era of Japan's history, capitalism reigns and cash is king, an inescapable overtone that runs throughout the game.

Playing either one of the main characters in Yakuza 0 is a liberating experience. Whether you are stoic series stalwart Kazuma Kiryu or the volatile Goro Majima, you are afforded much more opportunity to invest emotionally in either character as opposed to other late-series games such and Yakuza 5.

The two narrative threads begin some distance apart before being pulled together and eventually becoming intertwined. This translates into making the storyline and pacing in Yakuza 0 extremely tight and consistently engaging.

Mini-games and side stories are also a core part of the Yakuza experience, and they're where the series really gets to stretch its legs and get real weird.

Many of the additional quests you'll find are are just as hilarious as they've ever been, leaning on the stoic sense of justice and resolute seriousness exuded by its protagonists to great comedic effect.

If you've heard of the Yakuza games but have never taken the dive into them, then now's your chance. Easily the most accesible game of the series so far, and arguably the single best all-round Yakuza game, Yakuza 0 is a tremendous feat of game design and an easy recommendation.

10/10

Yakuza 0

PS4

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