For #4 this year, it came down to two very different games. One was the start of a brand new franchise, while the other was an attempt to win over new fans on an old one. For me, I went with the one that actually made me take a look at something new.
Nioh and Yakuza 0 were both two amazing games released this year. While I did enjoy Nioh, I wanted to give the nod to Yakuza 0. The Yakuza franchise has always been a niche success for Sega; growing more and more complex in terms of story over the years.
To try and win new fans, they did something very smart: Create an original prequel to the series using the refinements learned over the years. To its credit, Yakuza 0 turned out to be an even better introduction to the series than Yakuza Kiwami which was a remake of the very first game.
Yakuza 0 follows Kiryu and Majima before they would become the recognizable favorites. Starting from scratch in terms of story gave the developers a chance to create a great self contained tale that set the stage for future games. And because of it being original, it was the perfect game for new and returning fans to get into.
Everything that you liked about the main series was here: The intriguing story, crazy cutscenes, and of course tons of side content. The real estate and hostess club side quests were such a nice break from the main game that I was disappointed they weren’t in Kiwami.
While the game did improve on a lot of older systems of the series, it still had a lot of its quirks too. Expect to fight plenty of random encounters, lots and lots of cutscenes, and get lost looking for side quests. Be that as it may, Yakuza 0 certainly takes the parts that made the series so endearing in the first place.
If you haven’t yet checked it out, Yakuza 0 is a great entry point to a series that certainly needed it; and has me actually excited to see how things turn out with the next game. I would also still recommend checking out Nioh if you’re looking for your action game fix. Maybe I should have had two #4 this year.
We’re in the top three now, and for bronze this year, we have a game that has been a very long time coming.