Yakuza 0 PC Review: It's as Good as Ever
Both the Yakuza fanbase and sections of the PC community have been asking for Yakuza on PC for a long time. And for a long time it seemed impossible, a pipe dream for those interested in the series without a PlayStation-line console.
There are a few times in life when dreams do come true. In this instance that's thanks to Japanese publishers' increased focus on the PC market. The line between console exclusives and the PC space is little more than a blur today.
If you had asked me whether I thought the Yakuza series would be making its way to PC a few years ago, I'd probably have scoffed and taken offense due to the naivety of the question. Japanese publishers didn't port to PC, and when they did, it wasn't exactly done well. Plus, the chances of such a niche series making its way over here? Psh, yeah right.
It's 2018 now and Yakuza is on PC. Heck, a whole lot of other series I never thought would make it off console are now getting PC ports -- and not bad ports, either. These aren't coming out in the same states Deadly Premonition and Dark Souls got so carelessly released in. No. These are quality ports on par with their console versions -- or even better.
What a time to be alive.
Yakuza 0 is the first game in the series to make its way to PC, and what an appropriate choice on Sega's part. 0 is the place to start if you have never touched the series before.
There may be some confusion about the naming-slash-numbering of this series, so let's lay it out: Yakuza 0 is a prequel to Yakuza Kiwami, which is a remake of the original PlayStation 2 game. There are five additional games after Kiwami, with the latest being Yakuza 6 on the PlayStation 4.
For a first timer, 0 is the place to start. It gets all the pieces set, all the characters fleshed out, and prepares you for the never-ending trials and tribulations of just being Kazuma Kiryu, the Dragon of Dojima.
Part of what makes this series so unique and so beloved by fans is its unique hybrid of yakuza movie-style storytelling, relatively smooth beat'em up combat between entries, and absurd minigames and side content. Despite being a prequel, Yakuza 0 has all those things in spades.
Here, cutscenes are frequent, often long, and dramatic, with the story quality being on par with standard yakuza-theme feature film. Betrayal, revenge, and honor are all key parts in the genre and especially here in the Yakuza game series.
Combat is not an especially complex beast and, for most, will present little challenge. You spend a great deal of time in combat (you can't avoid chinpara forever) but outside of boss fights, it's a quick and dirty ordeal.
You can button mash your way to victory in combat, but you're better off making use of potential weapons in the environment or getting the hang of the wide range of Heat Actions available. It's significantly more fun if you get into combat's intricacies but if you're here for the side dish more than the main course, you don't have to stress much about beating people up.
Speaking of the side dish, it's always my personal main course. You can't have a Yakuza game without the silly side missions and mini games, which are ultimately what keep a number of fans returning to this series that seems so lost in time. Sure, the story is always great -- but there's so much more to do than watch cutscenes and rush through the story.
Though side missions are often humorous and one of the bigger draws to the game, the wealth of mini games found in the series is the real MVP for me.
Gacha machines to pluck up stuffed animals, classic Sega arcade games such as Out Run and Super Hang-On, fishing, miniature car racing, hostess dating, dancing, gambling at a Western or a Japanese-style casino -- this list is very small compared to the full list of mini games you can get yourself wrapped up in here in Yakuza 0.
The transition to PC from PlayStation 4 has been relatively smooth and it is a commendable effort by Sega to finally bring this sprawling and distinctly Japanese drama to a platform Japanese developers are just now taking seriously.
The game is capable of reaching 60fps at 4K, which is a first for the series provided your rig can handle it. As with just about every other recent PC release from Sega, it does come with Denuvo anti-tamper DRM. If that's a dealbreaker for you, well.. that's just how it is.
This series' debut on the PC seems to be a resounding success. One that past me would have punched present me for even suggesting, but a success nonetheless.
If you missed out on the Yakuza series thus far, for whatever reason, now is probably the best time to jump onto the bandwagon. Yakuza 0 is a little dramatic, a lot of weird, and a ton of fun. There is no better time to give it a shot than the present.
You can buy Yakuza 0 on Steam for $19.99.
[Note: The developer provided the copy of Yakuza 0 used in this review.]