kiryu singing bakamitai (yakuza 0)

Yakuza 0 Review (PC, PS4) – Friday Night In The 80’s

Yakuza 0 is a serious crime drama with bowling, karaoke, breakdancing, UFO catchers, Pocket Circuit, and... Oh what's the story about again?
Yakuza 0 is a serious crime drama with bowling, karaoke, breakdancing, UFO catchers, Pocket Circuit, and... Oh what's the story about again?

Yakuza 0 is a game that I always wanted to review. As of publishing this, I have over 100 hours of play time on PC and PS4 combined. There’s more to this game than just singing Baka Mitai. Along with its great story, it’s got a lot of other mini-games and substories for you to do. Also, you can beat up hardened Yakuza on the street by breakdancing.


If you ever wanted to get into the Yakuza series, this is a good game to start with. Yakuza 0 is a prequel to the Yakuza games and provides a deep backstory for the two main characters.

Kiryu in Kamurocho

Dame Da Ne…

Yakuza 0 is set in the Japanese economic bubble in the 80’s at the fictional towns of Kamurocho and Sotenbori. You play as a young Kazuma Kiryu… Yes, the Baka Mitai guy (Canonically, he’s the first protagonist to sing it). Eventually, you get to play as Goro Majima in the following chapters, switching back and forth between the two protagonists.

Both Kiryu and Majima take on the Yakuza world, discovering the truths hidden by the higher-ups in the Tojo Clan. Along the way, both of them find allies that help them when their backs are against the wall, and it all adds up to this complex yet intriguing story.

In short, both Kiryu and Majima’s stories are amazing and well thought out. They’re filled with plenty of action and drama in each chapter. Both stories open up all these interesting plots for both characters and finds a way to smoothly close all the loose ends in the final chapters. It’s really a story you have to experience yourself.

The main characters have distinct personalities, and it’s awesome to see these characters clash together because their deep backstories. They make you understand why they go to great lengths for what they believe in. At one point in the story, I have to admit that it almost made me tear up a little bit because of how emotional the scene was.


I have to appreciate the localization team on doing a good job at portraying everyone through the dialogue. Translating Japanese to English is tough because there are Japanese phrases and expressions that don’t quite have a direct meaning in English; But they were able to pull it off here by keeping the translations close to the actual Japanese lines.


Majima using a slugger heat action

Find A Payphone?

When I first started game, I honestly didn’t know what was going on. They teach you the basics of combat in the first moments of the game, and then they simply just drop you into the world for you to explore. The game doesn’t really tell you that much aside from a few text explaining things before letting you go.

Sometimes the game will cut access to some streets because they want you to go somewhere for a mission. To me, it felt forced and unnecessary at times. So it’s a good thing that they give a prompt before big battles so you can stock up on items before going in.

Aside from that gripe, you’re free to go around the town and explore the busy Kamurocho and Sotenbori.

What time is it? Movie time?

Expect a lot of cutscenes when dealing with the Yakuza franchise. Some chapters feel lengthy only because cutscenes are longer than you actually doing anything. It’s the similar movie game feeling if ever you played a Metal Gear game. I didn’t mind it that much because I was deeply invested in the story. Yakuza 0 might not be for you if you want more action during missions.

Wait… There’s a main storyline?

There’s so much to do in Yakuza 0 that at one point I even forgot about the main storyline. I got obsessed with the real estate substory because I wanted to max out all Kiryu’s abilities. When a game can fully entertain me without putting all of its cards on the table yet, they’ve won me over.

I was surprised that there was so much to do in the game. From bowling, to singing karaoke (You already know what song), and even befriending the local Mr. Libido. There’s always something to keep you busy. If that wasn’t enough, there are lots of substories to get into, and some of them are pretty well written.

There’s a substory where you have to get someone’s pants back, one where you infiltrate a cult, you can have a dance off with Michael Jackson (no kidding), there’s so much to do in the game that it’s hard to count them.

It’s also a nice addition that you can also play mini-games online with other players and in offline 2 player. Climax battles are also good challenges to take part in to test your brawling skills and see if you can rank with others in the leaderboard.

Yakuza is a serious crime drama btw


Most of the time while you’re walking around, you’re going to piss off some people just by merely existing in front of them. They’ll proceed to shout at you and when they catch up to you, you have to beat some sense into them. It gets a little annoying at first, but it’s always satisfying to cave a thug’s face in.

Oh, and be careful of Mr. Shakedown by the way if you want to keep your cash.

Both Kiryu and Majima have three different styles, and they are all useful for different types of enemies in the game. Each style has a mentor that can teach you special moves or give upgrades after training with them. You can even unlock their Legend styles after completing their business substories.

Each fighting style also has a skill tree where you can spend your money to unlock different moves, upgrades, and heat actions. You won’t know what you’re doing at the abilities screen at first, but you’ll get used to it after a few upgrades.

Another important part of combat is your heat meter. Heat actions are really satisfying to look at and there are plenty to choose from. They make the combat in the game feel satisfying when you get to land one, especially when they’ve been taunting you when you get knocked down.

Bosses and Cheap Tactics

The boss battles can feel a little cheap in the early game with bosses repeatedly breaking your guard, leaving you open for a free hit. Once you get familiar with the combat system and acquire upgrades later in the game, bosses, and any battle in general, will start to feel a little too easy for you as you can spam counters and heat actions.

I found out that it’s easy to cheese the combat in this game. Counter attacks in Yakuza 0 are really strong and abusable with the right timing. You can even spam heat actions if you have an inventory full of Tauriner++. You can knockdown people with a counter and then follow up with a guaranteed heat action for a chunk of damage. Rinse and repeat.

I have to admit that I did resort to these tactics to get through some parts of the game, it’s one of the flaws of the combat system in my opinion. Though this doesn’t make the combat any less enjoyable. It’s still fun and satisfying mixing and playing around with different styles in one fight.

Graphics & Sounds


Above Average Graphics

For a game that came out in 2015, the graphics aged pretty well. You’ll still see some low resolution models and buildings even at ultra settings in PC, though you won’t notice it until you look closely at things in first person. But even with that said, the cities are still beautiful to look at. Both Kamurocho and Sotenbori look alive with its crowded streets and bright neon signs.

The character models though, they stand out compared to everything else. The main characters have highly detailed models with facial expressions that are animated with quality during cutscenes, and also their tattoos are pretty cool too.

Amazing Voice Acting

The voice acting in this game is great and adds to an already interesting story; In each cut-scene, you can hear the emotions coming out of each character accompanied by detailed facial expressions. You can feel the tension and the seriousness in Kiryu’s voice when he talks to the lieutenants; You can tell that the lieutenants are all pissed at each other when they speak. The voice actors here did an amazing job.

Hard-Hitting Sound Effects and Music

I think the sound design is pretty good also, especially the ambient sounds while walking around the city. The bruising and brutal hit sound effects when you land punches are sound heavy with impact, all accompanied by a sweet soundtrack.

The soundtrack of the game is also noteworthy. The karaoke songs aren’t the only songs that are catchy. We got groovy disco tunes, sweet and melodic ones during emotional dialogues, and head bangin’ battle themes to crush skulls along with. The music here is great to listen to and doesn’t get repetitive even with long play times.

I swear Yakuza is a serious crime drama.

Yakuza 0 – Final Thoughts

Yakuza 0 is a great introduction into the Yakuza franchise and was a blast to review. I recommend this game to those who want a great story and for those who want to explore a world filled with things to do. While its gameplay can feel slow and lacking at times, it’s still fun and satisfying to beat people up using the different styles of Kiryu and Majima. And when you’re not beating up people, you’re immersing yourself in their world, doing all the mini-games and substories.

Putting Baka Mitai aside, Yakuza 0 has a lot of moments for you to remember, and you should definitely pick this game up when you have the chance.