Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Publisher – SEGA
Developer – Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Review Platform – PS4 played on the PS5
Release Date – Nov. 10 2020, (PS5) March 2, 2021
Also available – PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS5
Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a turn base JRPG published by Sega and developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. It is the eighth main release in the Yakuza series. It has a fabulous story with A LOT of voice acting making it feel like players are watching a tv series or movie.
Our main character Ichiban is a yakuza from the Arakawa Family, unlike previous Yakuza titles Ichiban is a lower member of the hierarchy. He is LOYAL to the Arakawa Family and takes the fall for a murder to prevent a big scale conflict with a rival family. After 18-years Ichiban is released from prison and NO ONE is there to welcome him. Ichiban was abandoned, he was done dirty!! But he does not think that because he’s so FAITHFUL, so he looks for answers in his stomping grounds Kamurocho, Tokyo. There he learned a lot of things changed and the Arakawa Family he once knew is not the same. Everything he admired and valued from the Arakawa Family was GONE. Then he is shot by the Arakawa patriarch and dumped in Isezaki Ijincho, Yokohama where Ichiban’s adventure begins.
Ijincho is split by the Ijin Three: Yokohama Liumang (Chinese), Geomijul (Korean), and Seiryu Clan (Japanese). The Ijin Three protect the area from outsiders while also be at war with each other, it is a mess and Ichiban gets pulled into it.
Ichiban – “The Rock-Bottom Dragon” is a compassionate, loyal, and straightforward person with a sense of justice. He loves the video game Dragon Quest and views the world like an RPG and wants to a Hero. Plays like a warrior in the party.
Nanba – A homeless man who used to be a nurse. Reflecting his former profession Nanba is intelligent and the voice of realism in situations, sort of pessimistic. Plays like a mage in the party.
Adachi – Ex-cop fired from the force after helping Ichiban crash an alliance meeting to confront the Arakawa patriarch. Adachi helped Ichiban because he knew there was something fishy happening between the police department and the Yakuza. Plays like a tank in the party.
Saeko – Runs a hostess bar owned by the same guy her twin sister worked for at a soap land. Like Ichiban and Adachi Saeko understands how the underworld works. Plays like a combination of a warrior/mage in the party.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon has a great story creating a fantastic experience for players and like many RPGs Yakuza: Like a Dragon follows a main story AND has a variety of sub stories. Players have the option to pick up sub stories with benefits such as money, experience, and personality points for Ichiban. These sub stories are impressively realistic showcasing the effort the developers put into the game. Its like they did their research to portray these scenes as true as possible. Along with sub stories players can build bonds between Ichiban with the other party members and play “games” like darts, staying awake watching a movie, karaoke, and more…. A lot more.
For battle play Yakuza: Like a Dragon plays like a turn-base RPG because opponents take turns attacking and our characters have unique skills to their job-like-roles. When it is a characters’ turn players have 4 options: Skills, Guard, Attack, or Etc. (items and such). I had fun utilizing the skills because the actions the characters made were creative making it not feel repetitive and executing the skills required concentration because players need to press certain buttons with precision to cause maximum damage. They game was like “nah we’re not gonna make this easy for you, you gotta initiate and finish the attack.” I liked to use skills with potential to damage more than one opponent i.e. Saeko’s Sparkling Canon, Nanba’s Pyro Belch, Adachi’s Breakin
g Top, and Ichiban’s Mega Swing.
Nanba is a healer which helps players preserve items for healing, but Nanba requires MP, so it is helpful to stock up on items for replenishing MP. Saeko usually has skills to buff up stats and Adachi usually has skills for provoke, defense, and such. The characters can take on different jobs and some jobs have similar skills but the actions displaying the skills varies again making the game not feel repetitive. After some time in the game players can “summon” allies and the first one available is from Pound Mates. Pound Mates is like a fighting service the summon is free but after that players gotta pay. Players will be able to summon under Etc.
To change jobs players, need to go to Hello Work which is funny because this is the same place our characters go to find actual jobs because they are broke and need money. It is like a guild giving out quests to adventures depending on their rank except it is a facility giving out jobs to people depending on their work experience. When players level up jobs it opens job opportunities for the characters providing MORE variety, this may feel like grinding for some.
Earlier I mentioned players have the option to work on sub stories and other activities beneficial to the party because they provide money, experience, and personality points for Ichiban. Players need to make money because buying gear is helpful for battle play but they’re pricey and players need to buy gear for EVERYONE. Then there is also the option to craft or upgrade gear from Sumire. I like to make money through Part-Time Hero because they are quick, give a lot of money, and there are Part-Time Hero jobs all over Ijincho. Another reason a player would want to make money is because if a player loses a battle half of their money gets taken away! All that hard-earned money GONE, it is a little heart breaking, makes one not want to lose again.
Ichiban’s stats relies on his personality traits: Passion, Confidence, Charisma, Kindness, Intellect, and Style. This is where the personality points come into play. Players can do activities to improve Ichiban’s stats by watching a movie, singing karaoke, bonding with party members, and more. These activities are really fun! Watching a movie is a game to keep Ichiban from falling asleep while watching a movie by eliminating sheep trying to make Ichiban sleepy. Singing karaoke is like a rhythm game and there is a song for each character with different levels of difficulty. While working on Ichiban’s personality traits players can also improve the bond with party members at the same time by talking to the party members at Survive Bar. Bonding with party members at Survive Bar allows players to learn more about these characters and their stories AND there is voice acting which is AWESOME. Improving the bond with party members is beneficial for battle play and working on the personality traits helps with Ichiban’s stats and by product improving the stats helps Ichiban in battle.
There is a lot to do in Yakuza: Like a Dragon such as the main story, sub stories, “games”, reviving a business, and more. With the main story once the cut scenes roll in players can relax and enjoy the story because there is voice acting and a lot of it EVEN sub stories have voice acting. Outside of the main story all other activities create an immersive experience for players. There is mature content related to the red light district and such portrayed in a very tasteful style I honestly think this game was meant for young-adults and older because there is so much humor and content little kids would not be able to appreciate. Also, with the jobs provided by Hello Work I do not think little kids would be able to connect the skill actions to the job occupation the characters take up. Yakuza: Like a Dragon has many facets I was not expecting which was a pleasant surprise.
I don’t say this often, THIS IS A MUST HAVE GAME. Go get it, enjoy the world of Yakuza: Like a Dragon.