Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Identify might have new branding, however it is a recreation about embracing outdated comforts, greater than anything.

Previously often known as Yakuza within the West (Sega rebranded it to Like a Dragon, a extra literal translation of its Japanese title, within the final 12 months), the newest recreation is quite a bit like its predecessors. Like, quite a bit. It takes place in the identical neighborhood as three of the earlier video games. A whole lot of the identical facet actions are right here. Most significantly, it’s the grand return of longtime collection protagonist Kazuma Kiryu.

That is, basically, a facet story — one which’s quite a bit shorter than most different video games within the collection (it took me 10 hours to finish the principle storyline, whereas different video games usually take between 20-50 hours). Like a Dragon Gaiden is about as enjoyable as a recreation might be whereas nonetheless feeling inessential. Its story takes too lengthy to achieve its (wonderful) emotional payoff, and the return to brawler-style fight feels a bit like a step backward. 

However in the event you’ve ever preferred Yakuza prior to now, this bite-sized organized crime saga continues to be definitely worth the time. The truth that it is a day one Xbox Sport Move recreation means you won’t even have to pay full worth for it, too.


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Again to Sotenbori

Warning: This part will characteristic story spoilers for Yakuza 6 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Any collection approaching 10 mainline entries is inevitably going to rise up to some convoluted timeline shenanigans, and this one isn’t any totally different. Let me clear issues up immediately: Like a Dragon Gaiden takes place concurrently with 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon, thus far, the latest recreation within the collection. The entire thought is to elucidate simply what the heck Kiryu bought as much as after faking his demise on the finish of Yakuza 6 so as to shield his family members.

Shock! It seems he spent most of that point beating individuals up on behalf of the shadowy group that helped him faux his demise and gave him a brand new title. It doesn’t take lengthy earlier than he will get roped into one other semi-complicated yakuza scheme involving crime households, each new and outdated, finally culminating within the climactic dissolution of the Tojo Clan and Omi Alliance, as seen in Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

The plot takes Kiryu to Sotenbori, a neighborhood prominently featured in Yakuza 0, 2, and 5. Recycling an outdated mini-open-world could be a disappointment in every other collection, nevertheless it’s simply how Yakuza rolls. Enjoying by means of these video games so as means finally growing an actual relationship with every neighborhood, and as a collection vet, it’s all the time good to return to Sotenbori, with its beautiful riverfront, bustling commerce district, and seedy again alleys stuffed with goons to beat the holy hell out of.

As a lot as we love the present collection protagonist and supreme himbo Kasuga Ichiban, I’ve to confess there’s some consolation in spending 10 to twenty hours with Kiryu once more. He’s, merely put, top-of-the-line gaming heroes of all time. Kiryu is a stoic warrior-monk who’s equally able to doing the best motion man stuff you’ve ever seen and spitting out some fireplace philosophical knowledge proper afterward. 

Like a Dragon Gaiden’s plot machinations are largely type of uninteresting till an explosively pleasant and splendidly silly ultimate act. It’s definitely worth the look forward to what’s a genuinely heart-wrenching emotional payoff, one thing followers have been ready for from Kiryu for years. He lastly will get some actual, self-serving introspection after a long time of preventing on behalf of others. 

In the event you love Kiryu, this recreation is price taking part in for that alone.

Superior wire-fighting maneuvers

I like the spider wire.
Credit score: Sega/Steam

The opposite vector by which Like a Dragon Gaiden is a throwback is slightly bit much less endearing to me.

Particularly, developer Ryo Ga Gotoku Studio (RGGS) introduced again the franchise’s outdated real-time brawler fight that fueled fights for the primary seven video games. To be clear, it’s nonetheless enjoyable, they usually’ve achieved a few issues to freshen it up. Timed parry counters are right here for sure unblockable assaults, and Kiryu has a goofy-ass new “Agent” preventing type stuffed with hilarious devices to make use of for giant group encounters.

For example, there’s a “spider wire” that comes out of a watch, which you’ll finally improve to ensnare round 5 enemies directly — whipping them across the enviornment or stealing weapons out of their arms. Drones might be deployed for self-defense, exploding cigarettes might be thrown like grenades, and rocket sneakers can be utilized to violently propel Kiryu into teams of helpless dudes. 

It’s nonetheless the identical arcadey beat-’em-up nonsense the collection was recognized for earlier than it switched to extra strategic turn-based battles with Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and that may be effective in a vacuum. Sadly, the turn-based fight within the newer video games is simply much more dynamic and fascinating to me. Boss fights require extra tactical planning (in Gaiden, you simply punch and dodge till it’s over), and there’s an enormous number of choices at your disposal.

By comparability, Like a Dragon Gaiden feels simplistic to its detriment. There may be depth to be discovered within the improve system, however until you are feeling like pouring hours into facet quests to earn the cash required for top-tier upgrades, it’s possible you’ll by no means see the most effective stuff. 

I get the rationale for this. RGGS needed to make a recreation for the oldsters preferring the outdated type of fight as a result of not everybody vibes with turn-based fights. It’s a sensible enterprise choice, and it’s executed effectively sufficient right here. I simply really feel that it’s slightly arduous to return after the daring and pleasant shift just a few years in the past.

It’s enjoyable to see an outdated buddy

This man most likely had it coming.
Credit score: Sega/Steam

After all, it wouldn’t be a Yakuza recreation with no copious quantity of facet actions to play with. You possibly can golf, play darts, take part in pocket automotive races, and do karaoke similar to in earlier video games. This can be a relatively small recreation, nevertheless it’s not missing in any of the bells and whistles.

There are many juicy facet quests to do as effectively (some that includes characters from earlier video games or spin-offs), and these are as enjoyable and humorous as all the time. As I mentioned, it is a lot like earlier Yakuza video games, and that’s not a foul factor! Just like the previous few entries, it additionally seems to be nice and runs flawlessly on PlayStation 5.

On the whole, it’s heat and soothing to pal round with Kiryu and co. for one more recreation, particularly after his function because the protagonist was snatched away by another person. I want its storyline felt extra important, and I do bemoan the return of brawler fight, however there are sufficient excessive factors to be present in each that I can’t hate both facet of Like a Dragon Gaiden.

And it completed its final purpose, which is to get me tremendous excited for the upcoming Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth in January 2024.

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