Yakuza 0, the prequel to the Yakuza games, has now received an official North American release date. Yakuza 0 is going to be released January 24th 2017 in North America as well as Europe, exclusively for the PlayStation 4. Yakuza 0 is being advertised as a way for people who had never gotten into the series to start, since it introduces the gameplay and style of Yakuza games and starts before the actual plotline of the series.
As far as localization for the game, Yakuza 0 is the first Yakuza game, since Yakuza 2 on the PlayStation 2, to have the kanji text changed to English and not just subtitled. The game will keep the use of honorifics in the English text. Yakuza 0 will also maintain the Japanese voice acting, in order to keep a sense of authenticity for a story that takes place in Japan with all Japanese characters. According to the blog post announcing the release date, “We’re leaving the original Japanese voices intact for the authenticity that only a Japanese voice actor could bring to a Yakuza experience.” A lot of the nuances in the speech are crucial to the story, adding another dimension to the characters’ relationships and interactions.
Yakuza 0 starts the player off literally at zero with the “Dragon’s Origin” storyline. The player controls a 20-year-old Kazuma Kiryu and see how he worked his way through the ranks of the Dojima yakuza crime family. Using his fists to climb his way to the top the player has a chance to see the humble beginnings of the Yakuza series’ main protagonist. The player can also for the first time control a long time NPC in the Yakuza series, Goro Majima in the “Embrace the Mad Dog” storyline. This storyline follows Majima running a successful cabaret but wanting more than anything to once again be a part of the crime family that kicked him out of their ranks. In Majima’s story of redemption he is pushed to brink by being given a series of almost impossible tasks to complete in order to regain his honor and be in the good graces of those he was once a part of.
Yakuza 0 will also allow the players to deviate from the story and take part in the “decadence of 1980s Japan.” This includes: racing pocket cars, getting a drink at a nightclub, hitting the dance floor at the pool hall, chatting with girls on the phone, and according to the release “much, much, more.”
Yakuza 0 will be available in both physical and digital formats for the PlayStation 4 on January 24th in both North America and Europe. Yakuza 0’s E3 trailer can be viewed below.