Plot is the key element of all the Yakuza games but trying to describe it is would make them sound either insanely boring or like a soap opera heavily mixed with a kung-fu movie. Instead it is more akin to what Die Hard would have been if it married Grand Theft Auto and made every character on the street personable and amazing — then, there is a level of depth in most of the mini-games that most other series reserve for the core mechanics. Taking that all into consideration, Yakuza 0 might also be the best jumping on points for the entire series.
Watch our Yakuza 0 stream below. Not only is the narrative detailed and engrossing, the mini-games are crazy good! Some mini-games even support two players.
While the most eye-catching moments early on are clearly the visuals and solid upgrades made since the last title, there is no question the high level of polish in the presentation values. Close ups on characters clothing can show the separation in the thread of a shirt, going into a bar will show different labels on different bottles (seemingly all of which are real), and store shelves are stocked with items that are actually sold at that location. There seems to be an endless supply of loving design that went into every aspect of this origin story, something that hasn’t been seen in many other titles recently—and makes the title stand out from the moment it starts.
That isn’t to say that the caring design stops there as the game manages to continue to introduce new mechanics throughout the quest at a good clip. Early on, fighting is one of the most satisfying aspects as you can pick up object in the environment and smash them gratifyingly against enemy faces. Also, battles are almost sought out because of the rich source of income they create although later they start falling off due to other methods of earning cash and the genius mechanic of literally throwing money around is introduced. It was as if the game itself knew that things were getting stale and wanted to mix it up, and did so with amounts of money the player would now find useless.
The only real concern that anyone should have about Yakuza 0 is that more people may not purchase it. While it is early in the year, this title easily beats almost every single game that came out last year in the running for game of the year, with eyes on years past as well. Yakuza 0 is a game that should be picked up and shared with friends, so that they can pass along how truly amazing it is because there is always something to do. Just when something feels like it is getting boring, the game seems to find a way to throw a new twist in it to make it new again.