Yakuza 0 - Review
Yakuza 0 takes place in 1988 and this prequel tells us about the origins of two of the most emblematic characters of the saga: Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima, who find themselves caught in a bloody war between rival clans. While Yakuza 5 (a game released chronologically just before Yakuza 0) was sometimes convoluted in having to juggle five different plots, Yakuza 0 gains greatly from focusing only on the problems encountered by Kiryu and Majima, both of whom are despised by their respective families and whose paths end up converging in the final outcome.
It is generally a mafia story that adopts the majority of clichés specific to the genre. So we find threatening yakuza leaders, car bombs, blackmail and all that follows, but this mafia fable narrated with a certain talent is above all perfectly exhaustive. Like a part of the Metal Gear Solid series, Yakuza 0 does not hesitate to relieve you of your controller during long passages by resorting to worked cutscenes which advance the plot and allow it to develop its different characters, and I always felt involved thanks to the remarkable performances the actors put in, and the writing that was effective in all circumstances.
Although the rather rigid character animations remind us that it was originally a cross-platform game (the Japanese version being released simultaneously on PS3 and PS4), Yakuza 0 perfectly captures the atmosphere and the architecture of the cities from which it is inspired (in this opus, you walk the streets of Tokyo and Osaka). If the open worlds of Watch Dogs 2 and Mafia 3 surpass the map of Yakuza 0 in terms of scale, the two aforementioned games however have all the trouble in the world to compete with it in terms of the sense of detail. proof the latest offspring of Sega when it comes to making every inch of its virtual world believable.
Its streets bathed in the harsh neon light take on a look that is sometimes flashy, sometimes enchanting, Don Quijote discount stores prove to be oppressive dens dedicated to consumerism, and street vendors continue to offer you tissue handkerchiefs for no apparent reason. . If the retro setting of Yakuza 0 definitely does not play in the same category as a certain Grand Theft Auto: Vice City when it comes to reveling in the nostalgia of the 80s, the title does however offer enough nods to eye to the era chosen to reinforce this notion of time and place - from the pagers (devices used to capture radio messages that were at their peak during the 1980s) used by the characters, to the authentic advertising panels dedicated to the famous reader - Walkman cassette, to OutRun and Space Harrier games playable in local arcades.
These arcade games are only the tip of this “time iceberg”. It is now a constant for the saga, and Yakuza 0 is no exception to the rule by always offering you a bunch of side activities to discover on the way leading you from point A to point B. You are the parties. fishing and bowling, Baseball practices allowing you to improve your strike and your reflexes, the many games of chance, billiards, karaoke, dancing, clandestine club fights ... better.
Most of these optional activities are done well and complemented with fun challenges to complete, ranging from genuinely addicting baseball hitting straining your reflexes, to (relatively deep) property management run by Kiryu in Tokyo to l hostess bar empire controlled by Majima in Osaka. These two management simulations also require a substantial investment in terms of time, but allow you to earn a maximum of yen. If I only scratched the surface of their possibilities during my first 30-hour session that allowed me to close the story, I intend to remedy that by discovering how lucrative these businesses can be as soon as I am done. the post-credits end mode named "Premium Adventure".
Streets of Rage
Of course, the most "direct" way to fill your bank account remains to kick off the almost uninterrupted line of thugs coming to mess you up with your fists (and kicks). Kiryu and Majima each have 3 different fighting styles that can be changed on the fly, and I greatly appreciated the possibility of being able to adapt my fighting technique according to the situation encountered. For example, I found Majima's breakdancing style (inviting you to hammer the buttons on your controller and turning him into a real human tornado) particularly effective against groups of enemies, while his baseball batsman-style approach was particularly effective against groups of enemies. is shown to be much more useful during 1v1 boss fights (requiring more powerful and direct attacks to be won).
Yakuza 0's combat system is wonderfully brutal, and the environmental finish-moves give you a particularly tasty way to end the fight with heavy pumping in the face. Despite the wide range of rowdy movements available, its counter system remains chaotic, and battles between groups of enemies are never as fluid as their counterparts escaped from the Batman: Arkham saga in terms of transitions. All this gives us the feeling that Yakuza 0 is lagging behind the competition, which is quite disappointing when you consider that the saga to which it is attached already has half a dozen opus.
Yakuza 0 cultivates a striking resemblance to the Dark Knight, however, as neither of its two main protagonists go so far as to kill. Every enemy demolished by Kiryu and Majima will be kindly asked to go and pick their teeth up in the gutter, which turns out to be a real breath of fresh air in an open-world crime-driven genre far more accustomed to mass killings. (not that I am loath to murder, but it is still quite pleasant to play a title that takes a different approach to it). Moreover, this lack of murders in Yakuza 0 makes the deaths of certain characters in the course of the story - whether good, bad or both at the same time - much more striking.
Off the beaten track
The side quests offered by Yakuza 0 contrast greatly with the heavy themes addressed by the main plot. Almost a hundred of these mini-missions can be found on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka, and these usually turn out to be light, if not absolutely wacky. I loved teaching a group of punk rocker apprentices how to speak insolently on the sidelines of a meeting with their fans (while deliberately picking the wrong lines of dialogue in order to get hilarious results), and to win a job as a producer in charge of a television commercial by going to the nerve.
Even if a number of these side missions are akin to simple "Fedex" quests, they are almost always worth the detour, as the fact of interacting with the quest givers can be hilarious. Almost half of them seem to have escaped a Japanese game show, and I was particularly fond of the recurring sexual allusions of the very lewd Mr. Libido. Overall, I loved meeting the definitely eccentric Yakuza 0 secondary cast, and often left my main mission goals behind in search of these surprisingly surprising characters.