I’ve written before on this blog my love of Yakuza 0, and today will be no different. This time, however, I will focus on the story of the game. I briefly touched on the story in the last article, but this time I want to go more in-depth with it, whilst also trying to avoid spoiling too much of it.
So, the basics. Yakuza 0 has two vastly different characters that switch off as the protagonist, those being Goro Majima and Kazuma Kiryu. Kiryu is the character you start with, and opening cut scenes show us that Kiryu appears to be the muscle for a loan shark. But soon after, we learn that Kiryu has been set-up for murder, leading to a series of events that leads to his whole life experiencing an upheaval.
Majima is introduced in Chapter 3, as the manager of a cabaret club named “The Grand”. The cut scene that first shows us who Majima is clocks in at twenty minutes long, but at no point during this time was I not fascinated. It gives the player an immediate reason to like Majima, by just making him seem cool. It’s deliberately hand-crafted to do this, and it immediately sucks players in to want to learn more about this wacky one-eyed man.
Eventually, it is revealed that Majima was expelled from the yakuza about ten years back, and he desperately wants back in. To do this, he is giving the profit from the club to a man named Sagawa, who in turn is going to help him get back in. Majima doesn’t like Sagawa, but he understands that it is what he must do in order to achieve his goal.
Over the course of seventeen chapters, Yakuza 0 switches the player back and forth between Kiryu and Majima. At the early stages, they live separate lives, each having two different struggles that are, in a way, the complete opposite. As the game progresses, however, the twine is pulled closer in a way that I could not predict occurring.
One of the great things about the plot is its unpredictability. At no point in this game could I say to myself “Damn, I wish I didn’t know where this was going!”. But at the same time, Yakuza 0 was dropping subtle story nuances that slowly wove together everything that was happening in the world. It’s easy to miss, but once you realize the foreshadowing that the game has shown, it makes the player feel rewarded.
When you think you are getting a grasp on the game, it twists itself even further to keep you in suspense, to keep you at your controller late into the night. I applaud games that can do that, as it is something that is hard to pull off. Few games have had this truly gripping effect with me, and I can proudly say Yakuza 0 is one of those games.
In case you couldn’t tell already, I am in love with this game. It’s one of those games where you feel rewarded for everything you do. I’d be here all day if I had to describe every time this game has just made me burst out into laughter, or even shed a tear. This game plays with my emotions in a way that I personally have not felt since The Last of Us. Even if you aren’t a fan of the way the combat is laid out, I would heavily recommend seeking out this game’s story, as it is one that I and many others will remember as one of the best this generation had to tell.