Yakuza: Dead Souls, released in Japan as Ryū ga Gotoku OF THE END, is a zombie-themed spin-off title of the Yakuza series. It was released in Japan on the PlayStation 3 in June of 2011, with a western release following in March of 2012.
Taking place a year after the end of Yakuza 4, the story of Dead Souls sees the city of Kamurocho face a dangerous new threat, one even greater than anything the Japanese underworld had ever seen before: the undead! With the city slowly falling apart as zombies ravage it and kill the innocent, four men tied to the criminal underbelly of Kamurocho set out to get to the bottom of the outbreak and save their city, and possibly the entire world.
Similar to Yakuza 4, Dead Souls features four playable characters:
- Shun Akiyama, first introduced in Yakuza 4, is present when the outbreak first begins. With his assistant, Hana, falling ill and trapped in the quarantine zone, Akiyama must fight to find a way to help her escape with her life. To help him fight his way through the zombie hordes, he dives into battle with a pistol in each hand.
- Goro Majima, one of the most popular characters in the series, makes his very first playable appearance in Dead Souls. With the Tojo Clan and its patriarch, Daigo Dojima, struggling against the undead, Majima takes his trusty shotgun and shows the zombies why he is infamous as the clan's Mad Dog.
- Ryuji Goda, believed to have died during the events of Yakuza 2, returns in Dead Souls. His desire to put his fighting days behind him are put on hold when his new friends find themselves at the mercy of the zombies. Determined to save them, the Dragon of Kansai will put his bionic right arm and the machine gun it conceals to the test.
- Kazuma Kiryu, the series protagonist, returns to Kamurocho when the conspirators behind the zombie outbreak kidnap his adoptive daughter, Haruka. Taking a Sniper Rifle to the undead, he must carve a swath through the zombie hordes, along with allies old and new, to save Haruka and Kamurocho.
Using a modified version of the engine from Yakuza 4, Dead Souls changes things up quite a bit by placing a greater emphasis on fighting with guns, with combat playing out in a fashion similar to third-person shooters and Survival Horror games. Heat actions return in a modified form called "Heat Snipe"; by firing a strategically placed shot at certain points in the surrounding environment, players can clear out large swaths of zombies with a single bullet. The ability to use environmental objects, a staple of the Yakuza series, is still present, but downplayed in favor of guns. The many sidequests and minigames emblematic of the series also make their return, but with a twist; many of the businesses of Kamurocho find themselves trapped within the quarantine zone, so players will need to fight off the zombie hordes and save the businesses before they can enjoy the arcades, restaurants, hostess clubs, and gambling dens of Kamurocho.
Sega released the game in North America in the hopes of riding the wave of the popular zombie trend that had been seen in games such as Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising. Unfortunately, the game wound up bombing, selling far fewer copies than anticipated and receiving a very average reception. So dismal was the failure of Dead Souls that it nearly ended support for the series in the west, with Sega of America pulling the plug on their English-language Yakuza websites and becoming quiet about any plans to localize future games. Thankfully, the series's presence in the west would remain thanks to Sony partnering with Sega to publish the next game in the series, Yakuza 5, and revitalizing interest in the series outside of Japan.
Yakuza: Dead Souls / Ryū ga Gotoku OF THE END contains examples of the following:
- Alternate Continuity: The game is a separate continuity from the main series canon, exploring what could have possibly happened to Ryuji Goda following the events of Yakuza 2. The story still takes place following the events of Yakuza 4, as Kiryu is already familiar with the new characters introduced in that game.
- Apocalypse How: Of the Class 0 variety; the zombie outbreak never extends beyond Kamurocho, and many survivors trapped in the quarantine zone manage to get by, continuing to operate businesses and conduct commerce even as the dead roam the streets.
- Artificial Limbs: Goda lost his arm in the climax of Yakuza 2 and has replaced it with a cybernetic prosthesis concealing a chaingun.
- Broken Pedestal: Tetsuo Nikaido. He tried to convince Ryuji to return to the Omi Alliance and take revenge against the Tojo Clan following his expulsion after being defeated by Kiryu. Despite his pleas, Ryuji's done and wants to remain a civilian. Not the words Tetsuo expected to hear from the man he looked up to.
- Chekhov's Skill: When working as a takoyaki chef, Goda is taught how to kill an octopus in a way that causes it no pain. He is forced to put this skill to use later after the takoyaki chef is infected and mutated.
- Combination Attack: When fighting with an AI partner, you can initiate a Heat Snipe over a group of enemies by having your ally toss a grenade towards them which you can set off with a well-placed bullet.
- Conversational Troping: In the "Clichés" substory, Akiyama falls in with a group of people you'd find in any zombie flick, like the geek, the desperate businessman, the horny couple, the pious woman and a prankster dressed as a zombie and you have to save them in the order of prankster, couple, pious. Along the way, many zombie victim tropes are lampshaded. In the end, the geek steals the businessman's money and heads off, only to slip on a Banana Peel, mess up his leg, and fall victim to the zombies.
- Damsel in Distress: The bad guys call up Kazuma to invite him to Kamurocho. Oh, and they've kidnapped Haruka.
- Disguised in Drag: In "The Sixth Chairman's Woes" substory, after Daigo tells Majima he'll do anything to help if it meant preventing more casualties, the Mad Dog has the Tojo Clan's chairman dress as a woman to use as bait to draw out some zombies. At the end of it, Daigo orders Majima to Let Us Never Speak of This Again.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The entire plot of Dead Souls is this in a nutshell, and Kiryu and Goda aren't too pleased. To elaborate: the zombie outbreak on Kamurucho was kickstarted by Tetsuo Nikaido, the new head of the Omi Alliance and an old subordinate to Goda. He planned to wipe out the Tojo Clan in response to Goda's defeat in Yakuza 2, and even offered Goda his old place back out of respect. However, both Kiryu and Goda point out how insane his plans turned out to be in the end, and he would have even begrudgingly accepted his fate had DD not turned him into a monster.
- Enemy Summoner: The Crybaby enemy type emits a piercing scream that causes zombies to swarm to her.
- Episode of the Dead: This game is essentially the Zombie Apocalypse installment of the Yakuza series, pitting Kiryu Kazuma and company against a swarm of zombies and tasking them with finding and eliminating the source of the invasion.
- Evil Feels Good: The zombification process explicitly feels very pleasant, due to the over production of endorphin hormones.
- Gatling Good: Ryuji Goda sports a cybernetic Arm Cannon from the Barrett Wallace Collection.
- A Glass in the Hand: Kazuma breaks the phone he's holding when the bad guys put Haruka on the line.
- Greater-Scope Villain: DD, the scientist behind the virus.
- The Great Wall: The JSDF erects massive barriers to contain the zombie outbreak. As the game progresses and the zombies manage to break through the walls, more walls are put up, until only small parts of the city are left outside the quarantine area.
- Guns Akimbo: Akiyama's weapons of choice are a pistol in each hand, befitting a man with a love of being flashy.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Misuzu Asagi is modeled after her voice actress, Chiaki Kuriyama.
- Kill Sat: Yup, there's an orbital laser you can use to barbecue zombies.
- Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Kazuma walks into the quarantine zone only to find that Zombies are the one thing he can't beat up with his fists and feet.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Dead Souls announced that Ryuji Goda, one of the main antagonists of 2, was not only brought Back from the Dead, but Promoted to Playable.
- Mistaken for Dying: Majima gets bitten by a zombie. Over the course of the game, he feels he's going to turn, and his eye starts turning redish. He goes to a detoxing sauna in a last-ditch effort to save himself. At the end of the game, it turns out he wasn't dying after all: the zombie was wearing dentures, so it couldn't infect Majima; and the red eye was just allergies.
- Molotov Cocktail: A moderately effective weapon that easily kills basic zombies. Molotov-chucking zombies are fairly common and can stunlock the player with constant explosions if encountered in numbers.
- Mythology Gag:
- There are a couple of nods to the live action movie of the first game: Majima's firearm of choice is a shotgun, and one of the Team Heat Actions has him hitting a target with a line drive... except in Of the End/Dead Souls he uses his SPAS-12 as a baseball bat and the "ball" happens to be a grenade that a Super Zombie B.O.W. swallows to predictable result.
- Goda has a substory dedicated to protecting a woman named Kaori, who bears a resemblance to Kaoru Sayama, an important character from Yakuza 2 and Goda's younger sister.
- Promoted to Playable: This game features the first playable appearance of Ryuji Goda and Goro Majima, some years before the latter was made playable in a canon game in Yakuza 0.
- Ranged Emergency Weapon: The Pistol ammo is infinite, making a Pistol a Ranged Emergency Weapon for most characters (except for Akiyama, whose primary weapon is a pistol). But as the first character in the game this works to soften the learning curve by making ammo not much of an issue until later).
- Scenery Gorn: The inside of the Kamurocho quarantine zone looks like a warzone.
- Short-Lived Aerial Escape: At the end, DD attempts to escape with a helicopter, only to find out Akiyama's piloting it. Akiyama then jumps out of the cockpit and into safety, leaving DD to fall to an explosive death as Kiryu, Ryuji, Akiyama and Haruka watch from above.
- Sniper Rifle: Kazuma is carrying an M-107 which also counts as a BFG.
- Sequence Breaking: You can download a free DLC that allows you to pick up rare crafting materials as soon as you leave the quarantine zone. With this, you can make/upgrade weapons/armor a lot sooner than you would normally.
- Tiny-Headed Behemoth: The Meat Head enemy has a ridiculously buff, armored upper body, with his only weakness being his normal-sized head and the surrounding tissue.
- Weapon of Choice: Each of the four playable characters have one primary firearm that they use as their default weapon.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Kamurocho has a zombie outbreak that nearly destroys the city, and its up to our heroes to stop it from spreading.