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Yakuza 0: trying something different

The Christmas holidays are a great time for gaming. Whether it’s spending time with a game received as a gift, treating yourself to a title in the Steam sale or trying something completely new, it’s the perfect time of year to curl up on the sofa with your controller.

My other-half and I managed to complete several releases we’d never played before. Sea of Solitude was a lovely puzzle-platformer with a sincere message at its heart; Greyhat: A Digital Detective Adventure kept us guessing at what was going on right until the end; and Call of Sea was a beautiful escape-room type journey. Then there was Quern – Undying Thoughts, a game I’d purchased after a recommendation from Darkshoxx and which felt like discovering Myst all over again.

It wasn’t all about video games though. Being aware of just how much I enjoy a good detective thriller, Kevin from The Lawful Geek very kindly sent us a murder-mystery-in-a-box to solve. Post Mortem: Death in La-La Land was a choose-your-own-adventure with physical evidence that kept us bust for around six hours trying to find out whodunnit. It made us feel as though we were the middle of our very own noir story and I can’t wait to start the next case, Lucha Muerte, very soon.

This would be a good pick for January’s EXP Share but it’s not the experience I’ve chosen to talk about today. This community event is hosted by DanamesX over at Tales of the Backlog and has been designed to get us all sharing our gaming tales, with the current topic being: “Share a story about a game that you played for the first time this month.” I know I’m cheating a little by selecting something from December but, with bonus points available if it’s in a genre you wouldn’t normally pick up, I’ve got something that’s perfect.

Although I’d vaguely heard about Yakuza previously, I’d never tried an entry myself because the series just wasn’t something on my radar. I quite like watching others play action-adventure releases and seeing how their narratives develop, but I often don’t take the lead on the controls because I’m so uncoordinated. It’s also the case that I don’t usually enjoy Japanese RPGs or releases set in the country because their storylines tend to be a little too over-the-top for my taste.

But watching Nathan from Gaming Omnivore play part of Yakuza 0 during one of his streams made me kind of curious. What the hell were we doing following two strangers into a restaurant and then helping them solve a crossword puzzle? And how on earth was ‘soy sauce face’ the opposite of ‘sauce face’? Although I get it now, at the time the Crossed Words substory was perhaps one of the weirdest side-missions I’d seen someone play through on Twitch.

And now this absurdity is the main reason why I’ve been having so much fun with the game since downloading it from Xbox Game Pass a few weeks ago. Obviously I’m terrible at the controls and prefer to mash the buttons while sticking to a single fighting style but that’s ok – because Yakuza 0 doesn’t take itself too seriously, I don’t feel the need to either. There’s no pressure for me to perform perfectly during the combat sequences and so instead I can concentrate on simply enjoying myself.

Just when you think the substories couldn’t get any more outlandish, they do. I’ve saved someone’s daughter from losing all her money to a doomsday cult and reunited her with her mother. I’ve won several cuddly toys from the UFO Catcher at the SEGA Hi-Tech Land for a child and then had to listen to her call me ‘Daddy’. And I’ve incorrectly given someone a pizza when they actually wanted a visa, and then celebrated with her and her pimp after they decided to get married.

On that note, I must admit that some of the depictions within Yakuza 0 do leave me cold. The sexes feel as though they’re handled rather differently: while positive traits have been written into male characters and some even subvert stereotypes, the women come across as being unable to do anything without the help of a man, and are expendable. I may understand that the game is set in a different era and culture but it doesn’t mean I have to agree with it – and that’s where I’m going to leave that subject for the time-being.

The other negative I have with the title is its use of character-switching. This isn’t a mechanic I like because I find it breaks my immersion in a story; I know many people like seeing a digital world through multiple protagonists’ eyes for different views, but I prefer to stick with just one throughout a playthrough. Saying that though, it’s not so annoying here because you get to spend several chapters with either Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima before switching over to the other.

These aren’t the reasons why I’m not sure I’m going to be able to finish Yakuza 0 though. This is actually due to its long length: with 17 chapters, 100 substories and a bunch of mini-games that can take around 140 to complete, I’m just not sure I want to put that much time into it. The past few years of blogging have taught me that I don’t like spending so many hours on a single game, and I get more satisfaction from shorter releases which can be finished in several sessions.

But still, I’m glad that hanging out with my blogger-friends in a stream led to me trying something I’d not considered before. Having an action-adventure divert my attention away from my beloved point-and-clicks resulted in a few fun days during the Christmas holidays – and it even reminded me why I adore the adventure genre as much as I do. A big thank you to Nathan for persuading me to download Yakuza 0 (and for sticking with the Gabriel Knight series for his streams!).

Thank you to DanamesX from Tales of the Backlog too for another great topic this month. If you’re interested in joining in with January’s EXP Share, you have until the end of the month and can find all the details in this post.

We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)


Kim View All

Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

11 thoughts on “Yakuza 0: trying something different Leave a comment

  1. Thanks for the mention! 😊

    I remember looking at the estimated playthrough times for Yakuza 0 and seeing it range anywhere from 33-100+ hours and saying “….not gonna be doing any Trophy Hunter posts for that” That’s a common complaint I’d heard about the Yakuza series – they’re really fun games, but you can get burned out easily.

    And of course I’m sticking with the Gabriel Knight games! I’ve completed 66% of them with just one remaining. I like being able to jump from one genre to the next(whether on stream or not) and not play JUST shooty pew-pew games…😅

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    • I can see where the ‘burnt out’ complaint comes from. I’ve not touched Yakuza 0 in a couple of weeks now, and I think it’s going to be one of those games I dip in and out of when I want a break from the stuff I usually play. Still, it was fun trying something different over Christmas and mashing some buttons.

      I’m interested to see what you’ll make of the third Gabriel Knight. It’s better than the others in some ways but not so in others… I’ll keep an eye out for the stream notification!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I ended up really liking Yakuza 0 but started to burn out on the substories, despite how good they were, and instead focused on the main story and finished that main through line. All in all, it took me about 25 hours to wrap up and I feel I got a good chunk of the full experience.

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    • Hmm… that sounds like a good idea. I’ve not picked up the game for a couple of weeks now, and there’s a small part of me which can’t face going back at present because I know there’s just so much to complete. I’m sure I’ll pick it up again at some point and sticking to the main story seems like the thing to aim for.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Call of the Sea sounds interesting. I may have to add it to my list of games to check out. I’m very selfish when I come to video games in the sense that I do not try new games or genres. Maybe that will be my goal this year, to try games I normally wouldn’t play lol.

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    • Call of the Sea is pretty good and it’s only eight hours long so you can complete it in a day. It’s such a lovely game to look at too! It’s great to try something new every once in a while, but there’s also no point in carrying on with something if you’re not enjoying it – there are far too many other video games to be played. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I started playing this a few weeks ago and have really been liking it. JRPGs and games in this setting are some of my favorites, so this is maybe more natural for me, but I can also see the issues people would have with it. Especially the length. I don’t have the kind of time to play games that I used to, and these days I can appreciate short games that provide a great experience much more for that reason.

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    • If I’m going to complete it, I think I’ll have to stick to only the main story as Kariyanine suggested above. It’s in my nature to want to complete all the substories but I just don’t have the time to fit them all in. Still, I’m pleased I finally gave the Yakuza series a go – if I hadn’t seen Nathan from Gaming Omnivore play part of it, I’d still think that it wouldn’t be something for me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing Kim! I like reading your perspectives on games outside your comfort zone. I’ve only known about the Yakuza series for little over a year now, and I hear nothing but good things about them. The charm of it seems to come from the crazy scenarios like you mentioned and discovering them for the first time. I’m currently playing Like A Dragon right now, but I am like you and taking my time with it since I know I’m going to get carried away with all the content.

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    • It’s difficult to not get carried away with something you’re enjoying! If you find a game you like, you want to see as much of it as you can and there’s so much to do in Yakuza 0. I think it’s going to be one of those games I dip into and out of when I want a break from the stuff I normally play.

      Thanks for another great EXP Share question. Looking forward to seeing what’s coming next month. 😀

      Like

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