Yakuza 6 marked the tip of protagonist Kazuma Kiryu’s journey, leaving us with a single query: “What now?” For years, gamers had explored Japan with Kiryu, changing into hooked up to the character in addition to the template that his video games inhabited. Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio may have merely dropped a brand new face in Kamurocho and referred to as it a day, however that’s not what occurred. In Yakuza: Like a Dragon, the studio raised eyebrows by scrapping the normal arcade-brawler fight and changing it with turn-based RPG-inspired battles. And whereas there’s a new face to the motion, he’s accompanied all through his journey in Yokohama with a rotating troupe of like-minded heroes. It’s a pivot that might have led to catastrophe. Fortunately, Like a Dragon’s daring gamble pays off, resulting in the most effective entries so far.
Ichiban Kasuga had some huge slip-on loafers to fill. Kiryu’s stoicism and dedication had been a pure match for the prison underworld he orbited, however his allure and willingness to assist folks with their issues received audiences over. Kasuga is not any Kiryu, and that’s form of the purpose. This new hero is impulsive, hotheaded, and a little bit of a goofball. At the start of his journey, Kasuga shares his enthusiasm for the Dragon Quest sequence with an underling. He sees himself as a hero, even when his skills don’t initially line up along with his aspirations. Kasuga’s willingness to assist is weaponized towards him, resulting in him taking the autumn (and an 18-year jail sentence) for a homicide.
We don’t know a lot about Kasuga at first, which finally ends up being one of the vital refreshing issues that Like a Dragon gives. Without the load of half a dozen or so video games and their related histories on his shoulders, Kasuga is a clean slate for this new Yokohama journey. Kasuga actually has targets and motivations – determining why his father determine within the Tojo Clan betrayed him is chief amongst them – however the truth that he’s such a small determine on this world creates an exhilarating feeling of freedom. This new hero doesn’t have established relationships on this new city, so the primary few hours are stuffed with easy issues like discovering work. What may very well be a boring slog cleverly leans into the RPG techniques that underpin your complete expertise.
Like a Dragon isn’t only a superficial tackle RPGs; it holds a satisfying quantity of depth, together with the assorted jobs that characters can take. You start as a bat-swinging hero, however you may as well swap to a number of different roles, resembling a chef, musician, or break dancer. Each position acquires new skills as they’re leveled up, just like the chef utilizing an area-of-effect flambé approach or the musician strumming a tune that heals the celebration. The jobs and the general assaults are fairly foolish, which is suitably on model. Changing these jobs is straightforward, although it requires a fast cease on the employment company – a pleasant reminder that, as goofy because it all may be, it’s grounded in its personal sense of actuality.
I used to be a bit postpone by the turn-based fight at first, however I shortly warmed as much as it. Returning gamers will discover some acquainted animations, together with some bike-swinging motion when characters come throughout these props within the subject. Well-timed button presses grant further injury or mitigate enemy assaults, which helped me keep engaged throughout battles. As Kasuga establishes himself within the city, different characters take part on the motion. That permits for lots extra depth and specialization. I loved having a few bruisers soften up my targets whereas the others targeted on debuffing enemies or offering heals when wanted. I particularly cherished the Poundmates, that are primarily Like a Dragon’s model of summons. These are supremely silly, and so they typically are rewards for participating within the myriad substories. I received’t spoil an excessive amount of, however I’ll say that having a gaggle of low-level yakuza thugs attacked by crawfish is without doubt one of the much less weird choices obtainable. When you’re appropriately leveled, random battles resolve themselves as shortly as they’d in earlier video games, however bigger boss encounters have strategic components that reward planning and endurance.
There is a big prison conspiracy at play right here – it’s a Yakuza sport, in spite of everything – nevertheless it doesn’t really feel as needlessly difficult as among the intrigue has been within the different entries. Keeping monitor of the necessary figures isn’t fairly as overwhelming, most probably as a result of Kasuga isn’t aware of a number of what’s occurring. I cherished the best way the story progressively involves mild, too. Kasuga and his associates be taught a lot about Yokohama’s prison underworld by working numerous jobs all through the town; he’s studying in regards to the city and its folks on the identical time we’re, which is a refreshing method.
It wouldn’t be a Yakuza sport with out an abundance of facet actions, and Like a Dragon delivers right here, too. If you’re not having enjoyable with the present process at hand or need a break from the story, a number of prolonged facet actions or pursuits are round to occupy your time. Yokohama is dwelling to a number of nice diversions, together with a Mario Kart-like Dragon Karting sequence, full with racing rivals, powerups, and tiered tournaments. I spent a lot of my time within the oddly participating administration sim, the place you rent folks to run a wide range of completely different companies to extend earnings, after which tackle buyers in board-room battles. It’s comparable in spirit to the cabaret administration or baseball simming in earlier entries, and it’s a enjoyable option to make some huge cash for upgrades and consumables.
Like a Dragon is a departure from the video games that got here earlier than it, however I discovered these modifications to be revitalizing. As a lot as I loved the Yakuza method, it was positively a method. Like a Dragon has sufficient acquainted components to make it really feel like, at its coronary heart, it’s a Yakuza sport. All the whereas, I totally appreciated how a lot of a brand new id this entry is establishing. Here’s hoping this is step one in yet one more nice journey for the sequence.