The Yakuza series has always lived exclusively in the Sony ecosystem. From the PS2 to the PS3, PS4 and even the PSP, it always seemed unlikely that we’d ever see the series venture beyond the pastures of Playstation. In a surprise announcement at E3 just last month, though, Sega did the impossible (OK, improbable) and announced Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami for PC. The first of these is coming out on 1st August.
I’m a huge fan of Yakuza, but I’ve always had the necessary Playstation consoles on hand to experience this lengthy crime drama saga. The demand for big Japanese releases on PC is higher than ever, and the PC could be the best way to play this series if the ports are handled right. Thankfully, from what I’ve experienced of Yakuza 0 so far, these ports are oh so right.
Despite coming out very early into the lifespan of the PS4 back in 2015 for Japan, Yakuza 0 has aged like a fine wine and the most gloriously stinky wheel of cheese. The bright and vivid aesthetic of 80s Japan is beautiful, and the character models blend real life facial reference with a consistent artistic style that helps the game stand tall even today.
On PC, all of these details are perfectly captured, and finely tuned to be even more consistent than they were on PS4. This port doesn’t transform the visuals or upgrade them in any significant way, but with higher resolution options and increased anti-aliasing, any jagged model edges or blurry shots that were found on PS4 are eliminated entirely on PC.
While the original game was at 60 FPS, it would face rare dips in crowded environments. During my time with the game on PC, the experience was consistently silky without a single drop in the framerate – I’m running with an AMD Ryzen 1600 and a GeForce GTX 1060. Advanced graphics settings even let you render the cutscenes with an uncapped framerate, but the game discourages enabling that as you might face some syncing issues if your computer can’t handle a consistent framerate.
In Dante’s Inferno, the fourth circle of Hell is Greed, the fifth circle is Anger, and the sixth is ‘People Who Try To Play Yakuza With Mouse & Keyboard’. The PC port fully supports that control method, but using keys and a mouse to play a fast paced action game like this is far from ideal in my opinion. The game itself even agrees, opening with a big message displaying a picture of a controller and proclaiming “REAL YAKUZA USE A GAMEPAD”. The game supports all of the traditional PC compatible controllers, so you’d be wise to pick one up if you plan to jump into Yakuza on PC.
While this game is beautiful, there are certain muddy parts of the visuals that I wish the PC port could have enhanced. Some environment textures remain as low resolution and blurry as they were on consoles, and that feels like something they could have been able to improve on with this port. Of course, that’s really a step beyond the purpose of this release.
Regardless of untouched textures, though, Yakuza 0 on PC is an incredibly successful port. The game runs silky smooth and with a powerful gaming rig it’s noticeably sharper than it was on PS4. With perfect controller support and wide variety of graphics options to boot, it’s obvious that care and time was put into this port. If Sega keeps this quality up with their future Yakuza ports, I might find myself waiting to experience all of these games on PC instead of PS4 from here on out.