The Yakuza franchise has been around for fifteen years. Starting off on the PlayStation 2, the beat-em-up action adventure followed fan favorite Kazuma Kiryu. Each and every mainline entry would follow our titular hero as he would embark on a new challenge. Whether it was cleaning out the denizens of political nastiness in the Yakuza or liberating Kamurocho from external threats, Kiryu-Chan was always the man for the job.
As the titles and years have worn on, the Dragon of Dojima has decided to take a break. With the Kiryu saga now concluded, most fans assumed the franchise would go to sleep.
Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio decided to turn the franchise in a new direction. There are bets, there are risks, and than there’s throwing out the kitchen sink. Rya Ga Gotoku studio decided to not just do all of the above, but they decided to shatter what the definition of the franchise is. In comes Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
A new saga. A new protagonist. A new beginning. It’s not only the biggest Yakuza game, it’s the most ambitious one to date. This is Remote Play’s review of Yakuza Like a Dragon.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon follows the story of Ichiban Kasuga. An Ex-Yakuza who was born in Kamurocho’s soapland, Shangri-La. Once his foster parent’s had passed, Ichiban had no path or direction. He didn’t live a normal life and ended up becoming a street thug by beating others for money. One day, his days caught up with him as he started attacking a Yakuza member without knowing. Ichiban was captured by that Yakuza family and was about to be killed. Luckily for Ichiban, the Arakawa Patriarch from the Tojo Clan, Masumi Arakawa, rescued him. Arakawa compensated the Yakuza family by sacrificing his finger in order to save Ichiban’s life.
Masumi Arakawa took Ichiban under his wing and raised him. Ichiban was devoted to Arakawa and looked at him as a father figure. He served the Arakawa family for many years and proved his loyalty. He also took care of Arakawa’s son, Masato, who’s also known as the Young Master. Things were going great until one night, a member from the Arakawa family murdered a Yakuza in cold blood. In order to protect the Arakawa family, Ichiban was asked to take the fall and do prison time for a crime he didn’t commit. Ichiban agreed and served 18 years in prison. Once he got out, society changed and the Tojo clan are no more. Ichiban tries to find answers and in the process, you’ll witness a major twist in the story after some unexpected events. Ichiban ends up in Yokohama and his journey to seek answers begins. This is where I’ll stop talking about the story. Our policy here has always been: No Spoilers.
So let’s get the elephant out of the room. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a turn based, stat driven, JRPG. Full stop. Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio made an unprecedented move by shedding the skin of it’s action adventure beat em mechanics and embracing the JRPG genre unabashedly. And… it is fantastic. This upending of the core of the series is a breath of fresh air. Hilariously, Ichiban is a huge Dragon Quest fan, and pays homage to the classic title in often fourth wall breaking ways. He actually sees himself in a turn based JRPG as he battles. All the crazy move sets you see is what he imagines. When I mean crazy, I’m talking about the crazy top moves that you’d see in an anime. You can unlock many moves as you rank your character level and job rank.
The combat has a parrying system where you can block enemy attacks if you time it just right. The game also has a job system which is basically switching classes. Each class by extension has a different move set. You can make each party member unique and dress them up the way you want. The UI layout of the combat resembles Persona. From regular and skill based attacks to using items and guarding, it’s all there. You can apply armor to beef up all your party members, weapons to increase stats, and use items to boost abilities. The game also allows you to craft and upgrade weapons at the Romance workshop.
You’ll also befriend a number of people that end up joining your party. The game has a bond system that’s also similar to Persona’s social links. This is a great opportunity to get to know your party members and their backstory. The social elements are pretty cool, and while not ground breaking, it offers a great chance to dive deeper into the lore of all the characters.
As you progress through the game, you may need to grind to take out the next area. Imagine reaching certain points where a boss can Insta-kill your entire party. And this is no laughing matter: the game punishes heavily if you die and you’ll end up losing a lot of money. The best way to avoid losing money from battles is to keep using the games manual save feature. You can explore dungeons to level up and find rare items. Luckily, I was farming for 5-6 hours and then breezed through the story.
Outside of the main quest, there’s a ton to do in Yakuza Like A Dragon to keep you distracted. Sub-stories are longer than before and the game offers additional side quests to help the people in Yokohama. Did I forget to mention mini- games? Yakuza: Like a Dragon offers many new mini games such as Dragon Kart, Survival Can Collection, and a Movie Theatre. In total, there are 24 mini-games to enjoy.
Graphically, Yakuza: Like a Dragon is absolute eye candy. Like a Dragon is based in three different locations and all three areas are a joy to explore. I was playing the game on my RTX 3080 with a 3900x and it runs like a charm. I maxed out the settings and had the game run at 120fps. The lighting, character models reflections, and density is out of this world.. Ryu Ga Gotoku studio did a great job showcasing the Dragon Engine on PC! And thankfully, I didn’t encounter any issues or bugs.
When it comes to sound, there’s a ton here to dig through. First you have an official English Dub and the original Japanese voice acting. SEGA went the extra mile as they created a second set of captions to accurately represent the original Japanese dialogue. SEGA’s localization team worked on every cutscene to re-sync lips to English. No matter what language you pick, Like a Dragon is going to sound authentic and well acted. And let’s not forget the catchy in game audio. Whether its the whispers and dialogue from NPCs, or the jazzy tunes of the city, this is some pretty great audio work. The soundtrack is something I’d definitely buy on itunes once it’s made available. I enjoyed the English variants of the karaoke songs and the up tempo beats for the boss battles were epic.
With all that said, I clocked in almost 60 hours when it was all said and done. I have to admit, when I first found out about Yakuza: Like a Dragon, I had my reservations. How could you make a Yakuza game without Kazuma Kiryu, moreover, how could you make a Yakuza game into a JRPG? I’m proud to admit that I’m absolutely delighted to be wrong. Yakuza: Like a Dragon isn’t just a new entry into the Yakuza franchise, it’s the shot of adrenaline it needed to wake up the Dragon. A fantastic adventure, and a must play.
Processor: Intel Core i5-3470 / AMD FX-8350
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics card: 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 / AMD Radeon HD 7870
Processor: Intel Core i7-6700 / AMD Ryzen 5 1400
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics card: 3 GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 / 4GB AMD Radeon RX 580
Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 3900x
Memory: 32 GB RAM
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
A Review Code was provided by SEGA Europe.
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku / Publisher: SEGA
Release date: 10/11/2020
Platforms: PS4|PS5, Xbox One,|Series X|S and PC
Version Reviewed: PC