Going back in time, Kiryu-chan.

Title: Yakuza 0
Platform: PS3 (Japan Only), PS4, PC (reviewed)
Developer: Sega CS1
Publisher: Sega
Release date: Out now
tl;dr: Go back in time with Kiryu-chan and Majima-san as they investigate the ‘Empty Lot’ incident.
Price:  £16/$20 (PlayStation) £15/$20 (PC)
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

For the first time ever, the Yakuza series is heading to a platform outside of PlayStation’s gentle embrace and heading to PC, giving the Master Race a chance to try out one of the greatest game series of all time and where better to start than with the prequel title that only launched on PlayStation consoles three years ago.

The primary protagonist of the Yakuza series is Kazuma Kiryu, and Yakuza 0 takes us all the way back to his youth. He’s an up and coming soldier in the Tojo Clan with a big punch and a big smile… probably. That is until his life is torn asunder in the blink of an eye. He’s set up for a fall so those Tojo Clan suits can claim a small empty lot that’s the center of a massive power struggle in the red-light district of Kamurocho, Tokyo. His only solution is to find evidence of his innocence before the Yakuza, or the police take him out.

But you won’t just play as Kiryu, you’ll also play as Goro Majima at certain parts of the story. Majima has been kicked out of the Yakuza and is forced to run a Nightclub in Osaka to pay off his debt. However, Majima gets entangled in the battle for the empty lot which spreads past the confines of Kamurocho and begins to involve all of Japan.

Set in 1988, when Japan’s economy was flourishing, Yakuza’s streets are filled with neon signs and people clad in leisure suits and the Kamurocho and Sotenbori’s nightlife was booming and all the rage. Alongside the story of Yakuza 0, you get involved with the denizens of Japan opening you up to a bunch of side content whether you’re helping those not so well off in this economic boom, or maybe you want to try your hand at Pocket Racing (Scalectrix in the UK) or maybe you just want to chill out in an arcade and play some classic Sega arcade titles! Yakuza 0 has it all, with a hundred side stories there’s always something to do if you want to take a break from the main content.

Of course, you can’t just chill out in arcades the entire time… You sometimes will end up getting into a scrap with thugs or rival Yakuza. The combat is super fun in Yakuza games and both Kiryu and Majima have differences in their three fighting styles, giving you a unique battle experience depending on who you’re playing as.

Kiryu is the more traditional fighter, his brawler style strikes the perfect balance between speed and power plus allows you to perform counterattacks. Further, in the story, you will unlock beast mode which taps into Kiryu’s raw power, powerful punches and area attacks that are truly devastating. Finally, you have Kiryu’s rush style which has you weaving through attacks like something out of Dragon Ball Z then landing a flurry of punches which might be weak by themselves but utterly destructive together.

Majima is less of a traditional fighter but his style shows why he’s worthy of your time. His default style is his Thug style which is a no holds barred street fighting consisting of kidney punches and eye gouging. Next up is his Slugger style, which has Majima using a baseball bat, as he knocks enemies around as if they were a baseball but he always blends the chaotic fighting style with the elegance of a samurai. Finally, Majima’s goofiest style, his Breaker style. Inspired after watching a breakdance battle, Majima develops a style reminiscent of Capoeira that allows you to chain combos and defeat the competition before they even know what hit them.

Yakuza 0 is a blast to play on PC with the customisable graphics settings allowing you to get a crisper graphical image. Yakuza 0 is best played with a controller even on PC, in fact, upon booting up the game, a little message pops up on the screen, “Real Yakuza use a gamepad.” And keep in mind that if you run the game off an SSD, you can significantly reduce loading times, a common complaint about the PS4 version.

Overall, Yakuza 0 is a blast to play and you should definitely grab this gem! It has an amazing price tag on both PC and PS4 as it recently released as part of the PlayStation Greatest Hits range. So, if you’d prefer to sit back on your sofa whilst playing the game you don’t have to spend more to play on a console for a change. But, if you want those solid 60fps and incredible graphics then you need to play the PC version. PS4 version isn’t terrible in terms of graphics but the PC version is definitely a step up if you have the PC rig to run it at Ultra settings.

The Sugoi

  • Hundreds of hours of content both in terms of story, side quests and mini-games.
  • A captivating story that will keep you glued to the screen beginning to end.
  • An incredible port.

The Not So Sugoi

  • Camera can be jarring at times.
  • Animations can feel stiff at times.
  • Needs more Karaoke!

Family Focus

Yakuza 0 is rated M for Mature by ESRB and PEGI 18 due to violence, blood and bad language.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a digital code of the game provided by the publishers for the purposes of this review.