For the first time ever, the Yakuza series is releasing outside of a Sony console. Starting with Yakuza 0, PC gamers will finally get a chance to play one of the best series in gaming history. That might seem like a bold claim, especially if you’ve never checked out Yakuza. Most familiar with the series, though, will agree that Yakuza 0 stands among the biggest names in the video game pantheon as being one of the most entertaining experiences available in recent years.
Chronologically, Yakuza 0 is the beginning of the story and is a perfect introduction to the series. I loved Yakuza 6, and I would rate Yakuza 0 notch above it. Yakuza 0 has very few flaws, and the PC release helps fix a few of the problems I had with the game when I played it on the PS4.
Yakuza 0 PC Review: Dungeons and Dragons
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, his life is torn asunder in the blink of an eye. He’s set up for a fall so his superiors in the Tojo Clan can claim a small empty lot that is 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.
In tandem with Kiryu’s story in Kamurocho is the tale of Goro Majima. Majima has been kicked out of the Yakuza and is forced to manage a nightclub in Sotenbori, Osaka to pay back his debt. He becomes entangled in the battle for the empty lot as it expands beyond the borders of Kamurocho and begins to involve Yakuza all over Japan.
Review PC Specs
- CPU: Intel Core i7-8086K o/c to 5.1 GHz
- GPU: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 AMP! Edition
- RAM: Ballistix Sport LT 32 GB (16GBx2) DDR4 2666
- Motherboard: ASUS TUF Z370 Pro Gaming
- Monitor: ASUS PB278Q 27″ 2560×1440
The story is incredible, not only because it keeps the twists and turns coming, but because of how three-dimensional the characters are. Kiryu and Majima make most of their AAA contemporaries look like cardboard cutouts. Much has been said about the unrealistic portrayal of masculinity in gaming and other media, with most “men’s men” being portrayed as single-track meatheads.
Both Kiryu and Majima are nuanced beyond that. They’re both individuals who are dedicated to a code of honor. While they get into a ton of brawls, there are multiple examples in Yakuza 0 where they go above and beyond to avoid conflict. In fact, the times you see Kiryu and Majima go all in and cut loose is when someone is unnecessarily cruel or trying to keep them from their goal.
Yakuza 0 PC Review: My Side Piece
One of the things that makes Yakuza 0 so alluring is the time it’s set in. It’s set in 1988, and Japan’s economy is flourishing. Leisure suits and neon are everywhere, and Kamurocho and Satenbori’s nightlife is bumping. Along with the drama of the main story, you get to get involved with the denizens of Japan.
All the money changing hands has made some people’s life more comfortable, while others aren’t so well off. There are 100 substories in Yakuza 0, and they come in every flavor you can imagine. Some are goofy, simple things like rushing around town to buy a group of bums their favorite drinks. Others are more dramatic and heartfelt, like a young girl asking you to get her toys out of a UFO Catcher so she can imagine you’re her absent father.
Even if you’re not looking to complete a particular objective, there’s a ton to do. Aside from the main story and substories, there are a ton of mini-games and side activities. Pocket circuit racing, baseball cages, arcades (with real playable Sega classics), pool, and more are all available to play. Kamurocho and Satenbori might not be vast, open worlds, but they’re so densely packed with stuff to do, see, and collect that it does a much better job feeling like a real city than the sprawling maps of some other games. I much prefer strolling through the streets of Kamurocho than driving miles through some city constructed with the same buildings pasted over and over and pedestrians that only serve to be run over or shot.
Yakuza 0 PC Review: When Diplomacy Fails
Of course, Kiryu and Majima can’t just chill out and play cards or bowl all the time. Frequently you’re going to get into fisticuffs. When I first played Yakuza 0, I felt like the fighting was a bit clunky. However, that’s not really true. I was the one with the problem. In fact, the combat in this game is very satisfying and deep, though it does have some shortcomings.
The first mistake I made when fighting in Yakuza 0 was that I kept trying to move the camera all the time. This game is a successor to the beat-em-ups of the 1990s and 2000s. If you’re feeling frustrated in a battle, do yourself a favor and adjust the camera only when absolutely needed. Instead, use the lock-on button and snap to enemies as needed. When you fight like this, you can concentrate on crowd control instead of just beating one enemy up. You can snap to one enemy, knock them down with a quick combo, let go of the lock and sweep the other two that have snuck up on you.
Both Majima and Kiryu each have three different fighting styles. Kiryu is the more traditional fighting of the two, his Brawler style allows you to strike a balance between speed and power and will give you access to counterattacks. Later on, you’ll get Beast style, which trades speed for raw power and devastating area attacks, and Rush style that has you quickly weaving around enemy attacks and delivering amazingly quick blows.
Majima’s fighting, on the other hand, is part of what earns him the moniker “Mad Dog of Shimano” later on. His default method of combat is the Thug style. Thug style is no holds barred street fighting with flourishing kicks, eye gouging, and kidney shots. His Slugger style has him using a bat in exotic ways, smashing enemies like a baseball player, but also using techniques reminiscent of swordplay or the twirling of a nunchaku. The goofiest fighting in the game is Majima’s Breaker style. Inspired by watching a breakdance battle, Majima develops a style reminiscent of Capoeira that allows you to chain combos and defeat enemies before they can touch you.
Each of these styles can be upgraded by finding trainers hidden in the characters’ respective cities and by spending cash leveling up. By the time you reach the end of the game, both Kiryu and Majima are absolute monsters with access to ridiculously powerful moves and weapons. The process is gradual, though, so it really feels like you’re spurring them forward fight after fight instead of just unlocking a bunch of menu options.
Yakuza 0 PC Review: Even Better on PC
Yakuza 0 on PC is best played on a controller, it even says so when you launch the game. However, keyboard and mouse are, and both gamepads and keyboard and mouse have rebindable mappings. For the most part, I didn’t notice a ton of difference with the PC version except what you could expect from running the game on a more powerful platform.
Having the game on an SSD cut down on the loading times (which could be a bit much in the PS4 version), and maxing out the graphics definitely give it a bump in the looks department, but if you’ve played it before don’t expect anything new with the port. It runs well though, and it never hit under 60 for me that I noticed.
Though I would have liked some fancy new effects or textures, Sega delivered a faithful port for the low price of $20. That’s an absolute steal for this game since there’s an easy 100 hours of content here.
Yakuza 0 PC Review: Enter the Dragon
If you haven’t played Yakuza 0, just go get it. If you have played it already, pick it up on PC too, why not? It’s $20 on Steam, and I know I’ve personally paid more for way, way worse games than this. Yakuza 0 is one of those games, though, that I’d play on a Nokia N-Gage if that’s where they ported it.
This series is better than it has any business being. If you’re tired of the cookie cutter, hum-drum crap coming out of big studios, Yakuza 0 is the prescription for you. Really, besides it showing its age a bit (it is a three-year-old game initially built with the PS3 in mind) the only significant flaw Yakuza 0 has is that it makes a lot of other games’ lack of originality stand out.
Yakuza 0 was reviewed on PC via a digital code provided by the publisher.