When I think of my favorite video game, one of the first games that come to mind is Yakuza 0. It’s set in the 80’s and is about two young gang members who get caught up in a war over a single plot of land within a city. Every two chapters, you’ll switch between the two to experience their separate narratives. Sounds okay in concept, but in execution it’s one of the most fun, brutal, heartfelt, and cinematic experiences in gaming.
Calling Yakuza 0 “peak fiction” is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything ties together perfectly, the characters are relatable, the soundtrack makes you feel like you can fight an army by yourself, and the gameplay is fun and diverse, as each character gets three different styles to switch between in combat. It’s very impressive for a beat-em-up game, and while the gameplay is not as mechanically diverse as something like Devil May Cry, the various Heat Actions that you can pull off make for quite the spectacle during combat.
It was only yesterday that I finished the mainline series with Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, which concludes series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu’s story. Aside from being one of my favorite characters in media, it felt good to bring his journey to an end. I can praise this series all day, believe me. Sadly, it feels like I’m the only person who has played, or even heard of these games.
While they are fantastic, they weren’t totally advertised for a western market. All the games except for the latest installment, the spin-off Like a Dragon, don’t have an English dub, so you’ll have to get used to reading if you don’t know Japanese.
It took a bit for me to get used to it at first, but the story sucked me in more and more to the point that I didn’t even notice it. (I also play every game with subtitles on, English or not, so that made it much easier as well.)
I always enjoyed crime movies like "The Godfather" and "Scarface" and have many hours in the Grand Theft Auto games, but the Yakuza series takes the cake as my favorite crime drama series. They have hundreds of hours of content in each game, so if you ever are looking for something new and unique to play, the Yakuza series is the perfect place to start!