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CONSOLE: PlayStation 4 DEVELOPER: Sega PUBLISHER: Sega
RELEASE DATE (NA): January 24, 2017 GENRE: Action-Adventure
// review by Meow

Definitely not a 0 out of 10.

Yakuza is a series I was first introduced to through Project X Zone 2 where my first thoughts were that I didn't really care for the handsome Majima and his precious Kiryu-chan since they were present as some of the more oddly detailed pictures, and I figured them to come from some dark gritty serious series that would just be plain boring. Over the course of about a year and a half or so, EscapeRouteBritish and another friend of mine slowly tossed around bits of stuff from the games that painted it in a different light.

It became clear this series was not as it first appeared to be. And after watching EscapeRouteBritish stream some of a couple of the games, as well as my friend's insistence on how good the games were, I finally borrowed Yakuza 0 off of him. The rest is history.

Yakuza 0 follows two characters around for an intertwining plot. The first, Kiryu, is a young yakuza who gets framed for the murder of a guy he had to collect money from for a loan shark. He finds himself in deep trouble, as well as realizing that the fact his being in trouble would make his father figure who is captain of his branch of the Yakuza pretty much being forced to resign from the Yakuza all together which is something that most people don't live with. The other character, Majima, is a one-eyed cabaret host with exceptional skills, dashing good looks, and the charm to back it up. You quickly learn that Majima is an ex-yakuza who got into severe troubles years ago, having one of his eyes gouged out and was tortured beyond a point that most people would have just died from. He was officially erased from his clan but was allowed to live under a city-wide arrest enforced by members of the clan; he was forced to make money at the cabaret he manages in order to justify himself in living, all the while he eagerly awaits the chance to be allowed back into the clan, being teased by his captors continually. Then, one day, the chance comes: he can come back to the clan if he can perform one simple task... murder a woman by the name of Makoto.

For the sake of spoilers, I won't go any further than this about the story, but I will say that it is very well-written; it has many intense moments, lots of great action, mystery, suspense, and dang it, it made me feel. There are some good soundtracks in this game, but nothing that stands out as "must be on my playlist", though the songs in the rhythm minigames are pretty dang catchy.

Speaking of, this game has tons of minigames. Some of them are... actually full games such as Space Harrier, Fantasy Zone, and Super Hang-On. For those too young to know what these are, they're old arcade games by Sega. You can also play mahjong, blackjack, darts, pool, just... an absolute ton of stuff.

By the way, I never even described what the actual main gameplay of this game is like. The game, itself, is a beat-em-up sort of game where you press the square and triangle buttons to pull off certain combos, and you can block, dodge, grab, and do all the classic stuff. Each character has 3 general move sets plus a bonus one each that let you basically use several different kind of play styles wrapped up in one punching package. You can also obtain a myriad of weapons, such as guns, knives, swords, shoes, fish, and freaking ship cannons. This game is, if you haven't guessed yet, a little ridiculous despite the seriousness of the story. The true beauty lies within its over-the-top demeanor.

In addition to minigames, there are also a load of side-quests and challenges you can take on to distract you from actually playing the game. Each character even has one generally large-scale side-quest that they can undertake that can help generate more money for the characters, which is used in both purchasing items and food but also in leveling up your characters as well. Each of the side-quests in the game is charming in its own quirky little way, such as poor Majima getting harassed by a granny, and Kiryu going on a blind date only to be assaulted by the worst kind of cougar.

To wrap this up, this was honestly one of the best games I've played in a long time. I had many moments where I was genuinely smiling and laughing, and I was completely invested in the story the whole way through. Sometimes the fighting got a little, I dunno, bothersome? Like I just wanted to mess around, but thankfully after a while I got an item where I could basically turn off non-scripted fights so I could play around and enjoy myself without having to worry about goons coming along and halting my progress. The game is on PS4, and it's out on PC now. This is one title I can recommend heartily for those who just want something they just... have fun with.


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