December 9, 1988. A cold chill blows through the neon jungle of Kamurocho — Tokyo’s notorious red light district. And there you are, Kazuma Kiryu, on a simple collection run, where you need to beat a delinquent money borrower in the face. A job well done and a night out with your friend and all’s well that ends well, right? Wrong. The dude you beat up wound up dead, and now your yakuza crime family is pretty upset about the attention it’s bringing. And that’s just the first half hour of the game.
The game in question, of course, being Yakuza 0 — the prequel to SEGA’s long-running franchise, and a great onboarding spot for those unfamiliar to the series!
The world of 1988 Tokyo is fully vibrant, and the bubble economy is in full swing. Everyone has their pockets lined with wads of cash, and it’s yours for the taking (or making, if you want to go legit). If any street punks or other gangs are dumb enough to move in on your turf, you’re gonna teach them a lesson by beating the snot out of them in classic, PS2-brawler era style. The best part? Using Heat Actions and combos to literally beat money out of people, and of course smashing them in the face with environmental objects… like a motorcycle, or my personal favorite, the tea kettle.
In the world of Yakuza 0, money is king! You’ll be needing lots of it to spend on upgrading your abilities — both Kiryu and Majima have three fighting styles to switch between, and each of those have additional moves that can be learned or bought, but the price goes up in a hurry, so you’re gonna need to figure out how to make some more money!
Fortunately, both Majima and Kiryu get roped into legit businesses pretty quickly, and you’ll get a taste of what a bubble economy is really about. Kiryu takes charge of a real-estate scheme in Kamurocho where you’ll get to earn income by building a portfolio of businesses that you take collections from. You may have to settle some disputes, but that’s what your fists are for.
Then there’s Majima’s business in Sotenbori. In addition to being the manager of the Cabaret Grand, he’ll fall into the role of being the manager of the Sunshine Cabaret Club, where you get to manage the hostesses and try to build up a clientele eager to spend mad money on facetime with a beautiful woman and some expensive alcohol.
But, perhaps best of all, there’s tons of places to explore and substories to uncover — there are ancient martial arts masters, drunken homeless dudes, badass debt collectors who reveal new fighting techniques to you (seriously), Club SEGAs with brand new Out Run or Space Harrier arcade cabinets to play, or maybe even a quick visit to the Telephone Clubs to try and find love.
Find the Darts parlor and try your hand at Cricket or 9-ball, maybe some Karaoke at the Karaoke club, or hit the docks for some fishing. Of course, there’s also a bunch of dudes eager to fight and you’ll get strangely obsessed with collecting phone cards scattered around the city.
Don’t forget that there’s a serious story at play here — the Dojima Family is going through a power vacuum with Kiryu stuck in the dead center of it, and Majima is trapped in the gilded cage of the Cabaret Grand, desperate to rejoin the ranks of the Tojo Clan. Majima, strung along endlessly by his captors gets a one-time offer of absolution: to execute a civilian. But will he be able to go through with it? Find out in Yakuza 0, available today and only on PS4!