The Japanese mafia inspires many video games. However, only some captured the fascinating world of crime, struggles, and entertainment in the Japanese underworld, like the Yakuza series. Yakuza 0 is the sixth entry in the series, and the action is set before the main game’s events. Released in 2018, the game was received with positive reviews from critics, and the open-world style of play makes it relevant even six years after its launch.

Looking for a new action-adventure game from the Asian universe? This third-person title will take you back to Tokyo’s districts in 1988, where Kazuma Kiryu struggled to move up the ranks of the Japanese mob world. Keep reading to discover more about this title and the numerous entertaining possibilities it brings

Yakuza 0 Gameplay and Backstory

The story is set in late 1988, a period of economic prosperity in Japan. It takes place seventeen years before the first game’s events and revolves around two characters, Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima. They are caught in a power struggle between various Yakuza groups fighting for control over a piece of land known as the “Empty Lot.”

In December 1988, Kazuma Kiryu, a member of the Yakuza, was falsely accused of a murder that took place on an unoccupied plot of land in Kamurochō, Tokyo. The vacant lot is vital for the Tojo Clan’sClan’s redevelopment project, and Sohei Dojima, the leader of the Dojima Family, desires it, hoping to enhance his status and power. He believes securing this lot could potentially position him to lead the Tojo Clan. To protect his father, Shintaro Kazama, from facing any consequences, Kiryu decides to cut all ties with the Dojima Family.


“Yakuza 0” is an action-adventure game in an open-world environment viewed from a third-person perspective. The story unfolds between December 1988 and January 1989 in fictional versions of Tokyo’s Kabukichō and Osaka’s Dōtonbori areas, known as Kamurochō and Sotenbori. Players can switch between controlling the main character, Kazuma Kiryu, and Goro Majima, a familiar figure, at specific moments in the storyline.

The game allows players to explore Kamurochō and Sotenbori, interact with various characters, and complete side quests. They can also engage in street battles with adversaries and play a range of minigames, including Sega arcade classics such as Out Run, Super Hang-On, Space Harrier, and Fantasy Zone. Players can earn Completion Points by achieving specific goals, such as trying every item on a restaurant’s menu or achieving a high score in a minigame. These points can be used at a shrine to purchase unique items or enhance the characters characters’ abilities.

“Yakuza 0” may not indulge in 1980s nostalgia as much as “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” did, but it still has many references that enhance the game’s temporal and geographical setting. The characters use pagers, and there are actual Walkman advertisements. Additionally, classic games like OutRun and Space Harrier are playable in the arcades. These games represent only a fraction of the many activities available.

Per the series series tradition, “Yakuza 0” offers various activities beyond the main storyline. The game is filled with optional activities such as fishing, bowling, batting practice, and various types of gambling, the ones you would normally find in Japanese online casinos, pools, darts, karaoke, dance competitions, underground fight clubs, and more. Each of these activities adds depth and variety to the gameplay experience.

Fight Your Way to the Top

The combat mechanics in Yakuza 0 are exceptional and vital to the game’s success. The game’s combat style is intense, with context-sensitive finishing moves that add a brutal touch to the fights. The finishing moves, especially when concluding a fight with a decisive cinematic flourish against an opponent, are gratifying. However, the game’sgame’s counter system needs to be more cohesive.


Despite the visually impressive brawls, Yakuza 0 lacks seamless combat flow in games like Batman: Arkham series, especially in smoothly switching between multiple adversaries. This aspect places the game somewhat behind contemporary standards in combat design, which is disappointing, given that this title is the sixth installment in the main Yakuza series.

Final Words

“Yakuza 0” is one of the best open-world game series, offering a wide range of activities and a captivating crime narrative. As a prequel, it provides a more accessible entry point for new players, as it does not require prior knowledge of the complex backstory of the series.

Although its hand-to-hand combat system does not match the fluidity of modern standards in the genre, the game still delivers an engaging experience. “Yakuza 0” takes players on a bold, expansive, and thrilling journey through Japan’s criminal underworld, striking an impressive balance between its rich storyline and the extensive array of activities available.