Yakuza: Dead Souls
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|Yakuza : Dead Souls|
North American box art
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, survival horror|
Yakuza: Dead Souls (Japanese: 龍が如く
Dead Souls is a non-canonical side story set during April 2011, one year after the events of Yakuza 4. A sudden outbreak causes the residents of Kamurocho to become zombies, biting victims to continue spreading the plague. Kamurocho is slowly quarantined as the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force is called in to contain the infection. In the wake of the outbreak, four men take charge to help the people of Kamurocho and find the source of the disease: Shun Akiyama, a local loan shark attempting to rescue his sick receptionist; Goro Majima, a feared yakuza and construction company owner trying to stave off his own infection; Ryuji Goda, a disgraced former yakuza and takoyaki chef whose clan has ties to the outbreak's origins; and Kazuma Kiryu, an orphanage caretaker and legendary former yakuza forced to return when his adopted daughter Haruka is kidnapped.
The game features four playable main characters. Series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu returns, as well as Goro Majima, a recurring character since the first installment. Ryuji Goda of Yakuza 2 and Shun Akiyama, one of the four main characters in Yakuza 4, are also playable characters. The story is divided into four parts with four chapters each, with players controlling a different character during each part, along with a final seventeenth chapter focusing on Kiryu.
The game was first announced in June 2010, during an interview with series producer Toshihiro Nagoshi in Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, during which he mentioned that a new Ryū ga Gotoku game was in development and that it would star Goro Majima. Majima, as well as the new project, was officially confirmed on July 1, on the official website. A series of announcements were then made on the main site, beginning in late July and continuing throughout August, with all four main characters being revealed one by one. Kazuma Kiryu was the first to be confirmed after Majima, on July 21. Shun Akiyama was then announced on August 4, and Ryuji Goda was then revealed in the final announcement on August 18. Following each character's confirmation, a large poster of him was erected across the east exist of the Shinjuku branch of Don Quijote, a shop that features in the game itself as a tie-in, and was replaced by the next character when he was announced.
In August 2010, a two-page advertisement appeared in Famitsu, showing Kamurocho in ruins, with the words "The End" over the image. The name of the game was officially announced in a September issue of Famitsu and confirmed on the game's official site on September 9.
Video footage of the game was shown for the first time at the Tokyo Game Show 2010, showing footage of minigames such as darts, fishing, batting and karaoke. It also showed scenes of the town being overrun by zombies and destroyed by a large, black monster and many small creatures. Footage afterwards on the Ryu-Stream channel showed the cabaret girls' actors "shooting" a zombie actor with guns.
Marketing and release
A recurring theme in the series is tie-ins, in which real-life businesses, restaurant chains or products are promoted prior to the game's release and within the game itself. A range of awamori drinks by Okinawa's Seifuku Distillery were licensed. A range of goods, including bracelets and T-shirts, was sold at Don Quijote, a store chain which has been featured in every game except Kenzan! so far. Also sold at Don Quijote was a themed energy drink called "Energy Dragon".
Another returning tie-in was a promotion with 777town, in which a Kazuma Kiryu avatar was available for use with the 777town website, and Volcano, a pachinko centre sponsored by the website, was included within the game. A collaboration with a hat brand, Override, was shown in-game; the hat was also available for purchase from Override's website. A men's fragrance, "Black Dragon", was designed by producer Toshihiro Nagoshi, and appears both in-game and at retailers such as Don Quijote.
Another promotion with Kai Razor included a Ryū ga Gotoku strap and razor case, and protagonist Kazuma Kiryu is shown shaving with one of their razors in an in-game cutscene. Another Kai Razor campaign featured bracelets designed by Nagoshi, Takaya Kuroda, Hidenari Ugaki, and the hostess' performers, as well as a nail clipper.
Karaoke Kan, a karaoke venue featured in the game since Yakuza 3, was included in another promotion. The first 200 customers to visit the special series rooms were awarded one of the three tie-in prizes (80 of each of the T-shirt and Kai Razor prizes were available, while 40 bottles of Black Dragon were given away), and an alternative "Karaoke Kan Version" of the game's commercial was played there, featuring Jun Komori, a model who appears as a masseuse in the game.
The game's characters, and a Kamuro-cho gate outfit, are available in the PSP game Taiko no Tatsujin Portable DX, which features "Machinegun Kiss", a karaoke song from the Ryū ga Gotoku series.
In the aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, the game's packaging was changed to a "Ganbarō, Nippon!" version with Kiryu and Haruka on the cover; the first pressing included a set of stickers featuring the two. Also included with early preorders was a soundtrack CD, part of the series' recurring Kamutai preorder bonus series.
Like its PS3 predecessors, some special items are available in the game if a save file from another game in the series is detected. If Yakuza 3 save data is present, players receive the Sunshine Belly Warmer, while Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan! save data grants the Gion Bell (祇園の鈴 (Gion no Suzu)) and Yakuza 4 data awards the Sugar Daddy Amulet (札束のお守). In the western release, players with a Yakuza 3 save receive both the Sunshine Belly Warmer and the Gion Bell, due to Kenzan! not receiving an English-language release.
The game received overall average reviews, with most criticism focused on its combat system, and praise focused on the story. The game is assigned a 63% on Metacritic, classified as mixed or average reviews as the most common reviews of the game.
PlayStation LifeStyle's Heath Hindman called the game "OK for what it is" in his review, praising the story and boss fights, but didn't like the dwarfed exploration and how dull the combat became as the game went on, saying, "Yakuza: Dead Souls isn’t going to bring in any new blood to the Yakuza series, but for its existing fans, it provides an interesting story and gameplay elements that haven’t been explored previously. Combat against the common zombies gets old fast, but there are some great boss battles to balance it out. As a huge Yakuza fan myself, I somewhat enjoyed the game, but wish there would have been a little better pacing and more chances to explore."
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