#99, December 22nd, 2020
Long running series tend to stick to a formula. Keep what the fans love and don’t get too wild when implementing new features. The Yakuza series had a few staples that were the main focus in every game. First was the protagonist, Kazuma Kiryu. Second, the city Tokyo (specifically Kamurocho). Third, a majority of the games centered around the Tojo clan and finally fourth a beat-em up action gameplay.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, was the closing chapter for Kazuma Kiryu, but little did we know it would end more than just that. Like a Dragon introduces a new protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga. While he borrows traits from Kiryu, Kasuga is more down to earth and feels like a common person compared to the god status Kiryu holds throughout the previous seven titles.
With a new protagonist, the combat style also shifts to a turn based rpg. Being one of the last major beat-em up franchises I was half torn coming in what I thought about this change. While on one hand we had already seen 9 games, counting Judgment & Fist of the North Star, with similar gameplay, I also was reluctant to let it go.
Developer Ryu Ga Gotoku took this task in stride though, by not only providing a competent turn based game, but taking the off the wall finishing moves into something even crazier. Besides beating your enemies to a pulp with your fist you can call in laser strikes, lower enemies stats with bad breath and call in “Poundmates” to provide assistants for a price. These are only a few of the new additions, but they keep Like a Dragon fresh there huge variety.
Typically a hallmark for voice acting, Like a Dragon does not disappoint. Each character carries individual charm and varies in how they express themselves. One area I want to address is the soundtrack. Yakuza games typically score fine in this department, but Like a Dragon has some absolute crackers, and once the OST is released I can’t wait to load a few of the songs up on Spotify.
Ichibans story is simple in nature, finding out why he was betrayed by his previous family he took the fall for. A Yakuza game wouldn’t be fitting for the series if it didn’t have a multitude of twists and turns and as Ichiban delves deeper into the politics surrounding him, he joins forces with a new cast of friends who also are searching for answers.
Like a Dragon puts up a fighting chance at being the most wholesome in the series over Yakuza 3. Ichibans goofiness carries through every tense moment and his kind heart always leads him down the path he follows. The main story is up there for some of the best in the series with the wildest chapter this series has seen yet, although its overall plot line has not knocked Judgment off the top spot.
Besides the main story, over 50 side missions are in the game, keeping up the silliness you would expect to balance out the series main campaign. Some of these are tied to mini-games, like the newly introduced go karting.Another new entry to the series is a feature that has you rescuing individuals around town and delivering requests found in the world (Such as bugs or food).
It took me 75 hours to beat the main game, finish all 52 side missions and defeat the final dungeon. For those that want to keep on going, there is a “true” final dungeon that requires maxing out your characters level which I plan on going back to at a later date. Beating the game also unlocks NG+ with the option to play on a harder difficulty while bringing over your save file and stats form the previous run.
Yakuza 7: Like a Dragon is brimming with exceptional content and you could easily sink an exponential amount of hours into Sega arcades, gambling halls and part-time hero requests.
Its not surprising this is an easy recommendation for me as this is my favorite video game series, but with all the new changes, Like a Dragon sets some new highs for the Yakuza franchise.
|Time To Completion||75 Hours|