Yakuza: Like a Dragon takes the tried-and-true formula of the Yakuza series and flips the script. Does this turn-based RPG have the same heat as previous Yakuza games, or should you stick with the older titles? Check out our review and find out.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon Review
Yakuza: Like a Dragon introduces us to a new main character named Ichiban Kasuga. Similar to Kazuma Kiryu in the former Yakuza games, Ichiban is a low-ranking member of the Yakuza. Having no family of his own, the head of the Arakawa family takes Ichiban in and shows him the ropes of being a Yakuza. Still, being only a grunt, Ichiban has to make collections on New Year’s Eve. You make your collections, then return for dinner with the boss.
The next day you get a call from your boss asking you to come to the office right away. You are told one of the high ranking Arakawa members has killed a rival gang member when you arrive. Someone has to take the fall, and Ichiban fits the bill perfectly. Instead of fighting this fate, Ichiban happily accepts, seeing that this is the best way to repay his boss. He goes to prison for 18 years and returns to a completely different world. You might feel a bit of déjà vu if you’ve played Yakuza Kiwami.
Both Ichiban and Yakuza: Like a Dragon wear their new inspiration on their sleeves. Dragon Quest is often referenced, and Ichiban wants nothing more than to be a true hero. You have a new combat system, a new class system, a new party system, and a story about a hero triumphing over “evil.” As a fan of the previous Yakuza games, some of these changes are welcome, and others begin to wear on toward the end of the game.
Let’s start with the most significant difference: The combat. Previous Yakuza entries have previously been very similar to a beat-em-up, but the action in Yakuza: Like a Dragon is turn-based. I enjoyed this change at first, but it begins to grow tiresome as the game goes on. Something I could previously do in roughly 15 seconds now often exceeds a minute or more. There are still some active parts of the combat, such as dodging and special attack button prompts, but even that feels dull near the end. It also felt like avoiding combat was much more difficult than in previous games. For the record, I don’t hate it; I just think they could lower the encounter rate a bit.
Yakuza has had a sort of class system in previous games, but nothing quite like this. Here you select a class, and that decides your weapons and a lot of your skills. Each character has their own unique classes they have and a pool everyone can select from. The classes take from real-world professions like Bodyguard (warrior), Idol (buff/healer), or Breakdancer (damage and debuffs). There are plenty of classes to pick from, and finding the right combo can make things much easier for you down the line. One downside is that you can only change classes at a specific spot, meaning you can’t change on the fly.
As for your party members, most of them play …