Yakuza: Dead Souls Is Really ‘Yakuza Plus Zombies’
Yakuza: Dead Souls is ripping off my idea. Back in high school, I pitched a trilogy of movies. The first would follow a group of friends through a crazy spring break, the second would cover their first summer back from college, and the third — the movie where you already knew the characters and cared about them — would put them in a center of a zombie outbreak. Now, more than a decade later, Yakuza: Dead Souls is stealing my idea and releasing it this March.
After four video games all about life inside the yakuza — or the Japanese mafia — SEGA is taking its beloved franchise and characters (Kazuma Kiryu, Shun Akiyama, Goro Majima and Ryuji Goda) and tossing them into the zombie apocalypse. Yes, the undead walk in the streets of Kamurocho (the game’s fictional red light district), and our four playable characters need to take them out.
My demo started suspiciously like a scene in Yakuza 4. Akiyama the loan shark was sleeping on his couch with a magazine over his face. Then, a zombie burst in, all hell broke loose, and the gameplay started. The big change seasoned Yakuza vets will notice is that guns are a huge part of Dead Souls. Previous Yakuza games focused on hand-to-hand combat with some melee weapons, but Yakuza: Dead Souls gives each character a firearm with unlimited bullets as their main attack (although the fisticuffs and other weapons are still part of the game).
Again, veterans might be asking what this means for the series’ Heat gauge. In previous games, you wailed on enemies long enough to fill a meter and pull off super-finishers. Like you might expect, killing zombies fills in a similar meter that unlocks Heat Sniping, a name that’s subject to change. This is a devastating attack that takes out multiple ghouls. The example I saw had a crew of zombies surround a vehicle and Mr. A shoot the gas tank via Heat Sniper to level the zombie squad. Just like the melee Heat moves, a quicktime event popped up for maximum destruction and to ensure the bullet stayed on target.
I’m a bit torn on Yakuza: Dead Souls. On one hand, I love these characters. I’ve always been down with Kaz and his orphanage, and just got behind Akiyama in Yakuza 4, so I’m excited to see them tossed into an insane situation. On the other hand, the gunplay looked pretty stiff. It seemed like even the guy demoing it for me was having trouble turning and getting his gun in the perfect spot. I’m all for a Yakuza game with zombies, but I want to make sure it’s fun and easy to control.
If SEGA can make sure the controls work, I’m totally down for Yakuza: Dead Souls. I’m happy to see the leveling system return, excited to see what the confirmed hostess clubs are like in the middle of Z-Day, and can’t wait for a zombie to tear off his shirt in slow motion to reveal a rockin’ back tattoo.