Yakuza is an incredibly clever series. It tempers series storylines and keeps them from getting depressing, overbearing, or too questionable by tossing in bits and pieces of ridiculous and heartwarming segments in substories. It injects a little levity into a situation, while also allowing us to see Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima in a new light. And, while Yakuza 0’s story is very good, there are more than a few moments when you might find yourself thinking the substories are even better.
The opportunity to take part in substories begins in the second chapter. After being introduced to Kazuma’s conflict and given the freedom to explore Kamurocho as you’d like, you’ll have the chance to stumble into all sorts of fantastic situations. In fact, the chapter is pretty much designed to encourage such a thing. Much of this chapter has you scouring the town in search of information on the Tachibana Real Estate, not giving you any set markers to reach. This means you can find yourself involved in some pretty wonderful stories as you go from points A to B. Three very memorable events can happen during this interaction.
Each one involves an activity you wouldn’t exactly expect a former member of the yakuza to bother with. If you wander around the Sega Hi-Tech Land in the Northwest corner of the map, you’ll run into a member of the Yokomichi Silvers. They’re a group of young men in a punk band that’s growing in popularity among yankis, delinquents. Kazuma has to help them put up a good front when they meet their fans. The results can be hilarious as good boys pretend to be bad. In another situation, a young boy has been saving his money and waiting in line at Don Quijote all day, all to buy Arakure Quest 3, the latest video game. Unfortunately, perils await him, and Kazuma has to help him get Ara-Q3 back. As Kazuma heads to investigate a reliable lead on Tachibana Real Estate, he’ll come upon The Show Must Go On. A crew’s producer isn’t showing up, and they need Kazuma to fill his shoes. It’s necessary to know all sorts of technical jargon to ensure the shoot goes well and the director’s undisturbed. The correct answers are fairly obvious, but the humor comes from the other possibilities available.
Once you’re able to head into Goro’s storyline, substories are immediately available. There’s no delay until the fourth chapter. Right away in chapter three, special encounters await. You’ll learn about the Tiger and Dragon, a place where Goro can search for weapon parts and recipes for crafting. You can protect a man who’s determined to walk across a bridge in a stadium jumper, that is varsity jacket, that everyone else seems to consider cause for a fight. It’s possible to help a boyfriend get a replica of a much desired necklace from a forger for his girlfriend. You can even start a quest involving a living statue.
Just like Kazuma, Goro has some rather fantastic substories even in his introductory segments. My three favorites involve rather unorthodox situations. In one, a living statue has found the audience he’s always desired, but it’s right when he needs to use the bathroom. Goro needs to provide a distraction so he can relieve himself. In another instance, a young woman has made up a fake boyfriend whose description exactly matches Goro’s, and she needs him to pretend they’re together to get her dad off of her back. There’s even a situation where Goro’s devious moneymaking skills help a young government official get some interesting ideas about how to get more money out of people via taxation. Each instance is hilarious and clever in all the best and most nuanced ways.
But then, these are only a handful of some of the substories you’ll see. When you play through Yakuza 0’s chapters, you’re going to see Kazuma and Goro getting into some dangerous and entertaining situations. But, you should always make sure to take part in every possible substory you see. Wander around Kamurocho and Sotenbori whenever possible. Don’t go from story quest to story quest without stopping. Explore. Stumble into these supplemental situations. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
Yakuza 0 will come to the PlayStation 4 on January 24, 2017.