The Yakuza series is one of my favourite game series, including the Judgement spin-offs. It’s absolutely bonkers while also having a dark and gripping story. I’ve just finished played Like a Dragon, which is my favourite of the series so far. It’s a soft-reboot of the series with a new protagonist, Kasuga, but it’s still set in the same universe as the previous games with some of the same locations and even some returning characters.
While the previous games of the series were action based RPGs, this one is full on turn-based, as Kasuga imagines the world around him is similar to his favourite game series Dragon Quest. It allows the most bizarre and strange things in the game to live in then same universe as a dark and grounded storyline. It starts on New Years Eve 2000, going into 2001, with Kasuga as a low-level member of the Asakawa family. He ends up taking the fall for a higher member of the family and spends eighteen years in prison, and when he is released the world has changed more than he expected. On one hand the story is grounded, but on another there’s a moment where you take control of a confectionary company and a chicken works for you. There’s loads of funny and wacky ideas, on par with the rest of the Yakuza series.
The game is split into fifteen chapters, with the early chapters showing Kasuga trying to settle into his life again after so much time behind bars. This is my favourite part of the game, where Kasuga starts to make friends and ends up with a room mate in a tiny little apartment, going to the job centre, and trying to get back on his feet. It’s mundane, but Kasuga is instantly likable and meets a great group of characters. It does take a little time for the story to really get going, with little seeds of mystery planted throughout, some of which take the whole game to pay off.
The story does get a little lost further into the game, like anything with almost a hundred hours of gameplay, but does manage to bring everything back home for the finale. There’s a ton of side-content to do as well, from side missions, minigames, and dungeons you can explore. The turn-based fighting is excellent and takes away any of the stress from some of the harder fights in earlier games in the series. The characters are all well balanced, with a good level of challenge throughout. Around the mid-point there’s also a battle tower introduced making which is a great place to grind if you want to make the later story fights a cakewalk.
From a 100% completion standpoint this is a lot better than previous games as well. There’s still a long list of random tasks to get that coveted 100%, but it’s not as tiresome or tedious as some of the other games. To get all the trophies/achievements you don’t even need to finish the full list, but it’s still satisfying to do either way.
The Yakuza series set a high standard for story, and this game doesn’t disappoint. Everything about this game is excellent. The plot, characters, side-content, visuals. All brilliant. There’s nothing really bad to say about it, apart from the story feels a little wandering at points. Another excellent entry to the series and my personal favourite so far.
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