I know absolutely nothing about the Yakuza video game franchise, but once they put zombies in the mix, I was so there. Hell, I didn’t even care about the storyline while playing Yakuza: Dead Souls. And you really don’t have to. The game plays virtually like an Asian take on Dead Rising, where your main goal is to run around a city taking down hordes of the undead. The entire game is in Japanese with English subtitles.
But Yakuza: Dead Souls is much easier than Dead Rising, at least when you play on wimp difficulty like I did. I even missed out on endless elements of the game that let you build your character’s abilities because there’s absolutely no guidelines on how to play the game once you finish the brief fighting tutorial.
For starters, I missed so many side missions because I had no idea how to find them. Your main mission is always a pink arrow on the map. But if you just randomly explore the city, you’ll come across people you can talk to who will make requests that start side missions for you. You don’t always run across these characters if you go directly to your main mission. Pretty sneaky…and a guarantee that you’ll be running around aimlessly looking for side missions.
The other issue with side missions is that, unbeknownst to me, you can’t do these missions at any time. The game is broken into 4 chapters, and in each chapter, you play a different character. Once you fight a boss at the end of a chapter, say goodbye to any unfinished side missions! Even though they all take place in the same city, you have to do them as that specified character, and you never play him again.
There are also taxis that you can use to get around the city faster. Unfortunately, you don’t have unlimited destination options around the city. EVERY time I tried to use a taxi, the place I needed to go or anywhere in the vicinity of that area was not an option. USELESS!
I also collected all these items along the way that were apparently worth money (a bunch of them I sold to buy supplies) and hinted that they could be used to build something else. Apparently, you can upgrade guns quite a bit in the game. I was only able to do it once. I think there are ability enhancers that you have to upgrade to in order to give you the smarts to make more complex guns or better armor. I never bought them, but I still blasted through the game with little problem using my meek weapons.
There were so many other things I missed or just skipped. Apparently, you can go fishing at the docks. The game never actually took me to the docks, but I did go there accidentally in the taxi. Some dude handed me a fishing pole and that was all that was going on. Who wants to fish during a zombie outbreak? Yawn. I just hopped back into the useless taxi and went on my way. You can gamble in some places, and I think you can eat in other places. Again, zombie outbreak! Who has time for this stupid crap? Hell. I even think there’s a gentleman’s club where you can buy an escort. I’m not even kidding. But that was the LAST thing I’d be doing, even without a zombie outbreak.
Upgrades and supplies could be bought in the backs of trucks parked around the city, but there was one dude in the truck who kept telling me I didn’t have what I needed to use his services. I’ve never been so insulted or felt so unattractive in my life. Also, I hear there are some sort of training classes you can take. Never found those either. And you can supposedly bring your partners to these classes as well.
Oh yeah. You get partners. As the game progressed, I was all of a sudden in a buddy movie. This partner has a life bar that goes down as he or she is attacked. Supposedly, you can heal your partner. Despite looking for help online after trying every button and going through every menu in the game, I still never found out how you do it. Luckily, none of my partners ever died.
But aside from all these annoyances, the game is a lot of fun. It’s really just a run and gun game. Or you can pick up one of the numerous items around the locations and beat zombies senseless until the item breaks. You spend a lot of time retracing your steps as you do side missions, and of course, the zombies totally respawn every time, so the game gets very repetitive. And many times, a side missions simply consists of clearing away all the zombies outside a storefront…zombies that aren’t there when you run up to the door behind which a voice is screaming for help, but suddenly appear when you accept the mission. Of course, the more zombies you kill, the quicker you can level up your skills.
Zombies aren’t the only enemy. There are zombie dudes who throw Molotov cocktails at you. There are big lumbering Rancor-like beasts with a vulnerable spot on their chest. There’s a big spinning rock ball that you shoot until it breaks to reveal a monster inside that you then have to take down. There’s this guy in a mask who has mad Ninja skills and kicks your ass if you don’t shoot him fast enough. There are these quick monkey-like zombie things that jump on you. There are flying creatures that spit at you. There’s a zombie chick who screams and attracts all the other zombies. Run and gun, baby!
The best thing about Yakuza: Dead Souls is that, aside from checkpoints, there are actual save points sprinkled throughout the city so you can save at any time. Now that’s my kind of zombie game.