11 years ago, the Yakuza team made a totally underrated sci-fi shooter

Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio is absolutely synonymous with the Yakuza series, especially since the studio itself is named after the franchise. Despite this laser focus, however, the developer has a vibrant history of varied games, and ironically, the first game released in 2012 under the moniker “RGG Studio” wasn’t even a Yakuza game. Instead, it was called a wildly absurd sci-fi shooter binary domainwhich remains the studio’s most criminally overlooked title to date.

While binary domain‘s box art and initial marketing might have painted it as a bog-standard sci-fi shooter, which is actually incredibly far from the truth. It has its own weaknesses, but the further you dig, the more you find a shooter with some intriguingly experimental mechanics and a story that really leads to some thematically interesting locations.

binary domain was directed by Toshihiro Nagoshi, best known as the creator of the Yakuza franchise, and it’s a surprisingly forward-thinking sci-fi story. Taking place in the near future binary domain‘s version of Earth has been ravaged by the effects of global warming, causing large tracts of land to become inundated. As a result, much of humanity has drowned, causing technology and robotics companies to thrive and replacing large sections of the workforce with advanced robots.

binary domain brilliantly uses the same “campy” tone that the yakuza games execute so well.


All of this eventually led to the passage of a “New Geneva Convention” that banned robots that could pass for human beings. The events of binary domain After an android attacks the headquarters of a robotics company called Bergen in Detroit, Michigan, start with the big hitch that the android thought he was human all along.

binary domain obviously has some lofty narrative ambitions, and this setup sees you taking control of Dan Marshall, a Nebraska-born special agent who serves as part of a “Rust Crew” for United Nations security and is sent to inspect the Amada infiltrate corporation in Japan. who violated the New Geneva Convention with their android attack in Detroit.

Dan is joined by specialists from around the world, all of whom are predictably stereotypical, as you’d expect from RGG Studio’s comedic style. You’ve got squad members like a posh French robot named Cain, the cocky American Special Forces member nicknamed “Big Bo,” and a snooty British agent named Charles.

Although it’s not really a horror game, binary domain does a good job of using “horrible” images.


binary domain you can interact with these squad members in interesting ways, allowing you to give orders instantly during battle. The game even allows using voice commands for this system if you are inclined to do so. However, the ability to interact with your squad also ties into the story, but with a consequence system that runs throughout the experience. The dialogue options and actions you choose can affect each squad member’s opinion of Dan, and both their effectiveness in combat and the actual storyline may change based on the squad’s level of trust.

This creates an interesting level of immersive storytelling as you move through the mostly linear experience. As for the actual shooting, binary domain falls squarely in the camp of all those third-person shooters of the Xbox 360/PS3 era. The game places a heavy emphasis on its cover system and tactical collaboration with your squad to take down hordes of robotic enemies, and that’s the place binary domain gets really interesting on the gameplay front.

Self binary domainThe most basic of robotic enemies can be downright terrifying as they relentlessly try to eliminate you. Shooting at one of the robotic enemies will often rip off an arm or leg, which frighteningly doesn’t stop them at all. Robots with ripped off legs get a speed boost and relentlessly crawl towards you, trying to rip you to pieces.

The squad mechanics of binary domain can feel a little finicky at times, but the way they fit into both the gameplay and the story is truly unique.


Although it’s not a horror game binary domain has some of the most terrifying minute-by-minute gameplay moments I’ve ever seen in a shooter, and to this day I can still remember the panic as I battled a horde of robots and an enemy I thought was he was depressed, suddenly rushed at me. Binary Domains The actual shooting mechanic might just feel like standard, but its brilliant enemy designs and squad mechanics really make it unique.

It’s hard to put into words, though binary domain just has that special “something” that Ryu Ga Gotoku is so good at. Just like Yakuza, there’s an inherent charm and campiness to everything, even as the narrative explores fierce themes like what it means to live, the danger of technology, and human impact on the planet.

If binary domain When it came out today, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s current pedigree would almost guarantee it would be a hit, but in 2012, when the studio was largely unknown in the west, it was unfortunately thrown into the generic sci-fi shooter category. However, it’s totally worth returning to date as not only does it endure, but it offers a fascinating look at a tried and true studio trying something completely different and more ambitious.

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