We talked about in our latest Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name assessment that RGG Studio has been on an almighty roll of late in the case of all issues Yakuza-related. As a outcome this riotous sequence, so lengthy neglected by mainstream audiences within the west, has lastly change into the type of everlasting fixture on ‘Best RPG‘ lists that we at all times reckoned it ought to have been.
There’s been a little bit of a long-term plan to rejuvenate and redeploy highlights from throughout the historical past of this franchise lately, a drive to entice an all-new era of gamers to the wonders of beating thugs to a pulp while making unusual pals, studying utterly pointless life classes and upsetting the locals along with your karaoke caterwauling.
Not content material with dropping a gentle stream of alternative cuts from its again catalog, RGG has additionally ensured it continues hitting out with absolute belters in the case of the most recent entries on this longest-running of gangster franchises. One such belter, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, launched again initially of 2020, launched us to Ichiban Kasuga, the crazy-haired ex-convict turned hero-with-a-heart-of-gold, within the sequence’ first ever turn-based outing.
Taking the button-mashy, arcade-styled motion with which these video games have change into synonymous and changing it with turn-based fight straight out of some fantasy-ass RPG won’t have appeared like an excellent thought on the time – and it actually has its detractors – nevertheless it in a short time turned our most well-liked type of pugilism of the 2 on supply, and a transfer that feels as if it is breathed all-sorts of latest life and contemporary potentialities right into a setup that was undoubtedly – and we all know Yakuza 6 and Yakuza 0 are all-timers – nevertheless it had 100% begun to exhibit a bit of put on and tear.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon was the most effective the sequence had ever felt mechanically on the time of its launch. The story was gripping too, strolling a nice line between real emotion, critical material and the same old slapstick/extremely odd humour that these video games at all times ship on so effectively. Ichiban additionally managed to do the unimaginable by filling the void left by Kazuma with fashion to spare, and the dimensions and scope of the world was a brand new excessive watermark by way of facet actions and silliness through which to indulge.
And so, after the delightfully old-school Yakuza antics of The Man Who Erased His Name gave extra traditionally-minded followers one thing to tuck into, right here we’re with a second serving to of the brand new flavour in a sequel that is greater, longer and higher in nearly each means. Yes, we’d as effectively simply say it now, this may increasingly very effectively be the most effective sport that RGG Studio has made to this point. An completely ridiculous assertion given a few of the epic crime operas we have been handled to over time, for positive, however there it’s.
Where ought to we begin with Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth, actually? Ichiban’s return units him off an emotionally fraught journey – the household ties are sturdy with this one – that offers gamers a paradise playground to knock round within the type of Hawaii. This in itself would normally be sufficient to have us foaming on the mouth, an all-new and distinctly totally different setting is a rarity for this sequence to make certain, however this time we’re additionally getting the return of Kiryu Kazuma as he joins forces with Ichiban in an effort to take down the island’s shady Barracuda clan.
If we have been to try to clarify far more in regards to the plot, effectively, we would be ruining issues – and we all know a few of the greatest and most surprising plot factors are on the market in spoiler-land already – however let’s simply say that the narrative introduced right here tops Ichiban’s first outing in each means and offers us a number of time within the firm of two of the strongest protagonists in gaming. That’s simply information. There’s loads of massive previous twists, some completely wild revelations, as many lengthy cutscenes as anybody may ever ask for, and sufficient bizarre perverts, streakers and smelly previous males dressed as pickles to final us till no less than Easter.
The writing isn’t a problem with these video games, although, is it? They ship the products each single time in the case of critical crime dramas infused with the kind of madcap bizzarro weirdness that Japan does finest. We’re as secure as we assumed we’d be in that regard right here, then, and it is actually the hassle to fill this world with worthwhile actions, to present Hawaii a satisfying circulate in the way it introduces substories, characters and actions, that does most to raise this one past its predecessors.
There’s the same old gamut of old-school arcade video games to play – Sega Bass Fishing or Virtua Fighter 3 anybody? You’ve additionally acquired darts and Mahjong, correct seedy courting apps and courting video games – now with actual fashions – blackjack, poker, karaoke and all that jazz as well. However, Infinite Wealth then goes means above and past in offering facet actions and distractions that sit alongside the principle story as genuinely worthy and involving methods to spend your time.
Ichiban’s newest journey turns Yakuza: Like A Dragon’s Sujimon index (suppose Pokedex for thugs) right into a full-on Pokemon tribute with stadium battles, trainers, fighter evolutions and all the things. It’s acquired a whole island devoted to tearing off Animal Crossing – imagine us after we let you know it is bloody addictive – and so they’ve even gone and chucked in a completely fleshed out ode to Crazy Taxi only for the hell of it. More than at some other level on this franchise’s very lengthy historical past, these things looks like a part of the principle thrust of the sport, these actions are greater than mere distractions, and so they’re fed again into and layered on high of a base expertise that was already bursting on the seams with silliness with which to interact.
With regards to Hawaii itself, effectively, if we’re being very choosy, that is the one side of Infinite Wealth that does not ship fairly as a lot evolution as we would (in all probability unfairly) hoped that it would. As nice because it appears, and as good as it’s to have such a complete change of ambiance, it is nonetheless a bit of too related in the way it’s laid out, in the way it operates round you, to really feel like an actual break from previous settings. It does make up for this by being stuffed stuffed with sudden diversions, and there is a shady facet of paradise being explored in fascinating methods right here, however that is nonetheless resolutely a Yakuza sport, for all its developments, and in the event you don’t love ’em this would possibly not change issues, no matter a brand new setting or fight refinements or the rest.
Oh, and let’s not overlook about that fight, by the way in which. The general circulate of fights feels slicker and smoother this day out, and Like A Dragon’s glorious job system returns in an expanded kind, framing conventional RPG lessons into the likes of Hero, Samurai, Desperado and…eh…cabbie, all with their very own wild assortment of strikes and expertise. New crew members are uniformly glorious, the battle banter is top-notch (nothing is funnier than the insults that Yakuza’s enemies fling out, let’s be trustworthy), and we had a good time switching between Kiryu’s numerous stances which have been cleverly transferred to turn-based motion right here. There’s additionally loads of flashy tag-team goodness for individuals who wish to take down their foes in screen-shaking fashion (simply keep in mind to take your buddies out ingesting with the intention to strengthen your combo/crew expertise).
Indeed it is a essential level as, greater than some other entry within the sequence to this point, this newest outing simply appears to get how actions and rewards ought to circulate into each other for optimum satisfaction. Time spent boozing, socialising and indulging in facet actions ends in tangible enhancements, boosts and boons right here, and that makes for a core gameplay expertise that is by no means been higher. So ensure that to fill in these relationship bingo playing cards, of us (we’re not joking), as figuring out your folks effectively brings vital advantages when it comes time to smash some faces all around the seashore promenade.
Now effectively over thousand phrases right into a assessment and we’re barely scraping the floor to be trustworthy, however such is the way in which with Yakuza. We have not even talked about the customisable Segway you get to blast round Hawaii on but have we? The most important level to be made in the long run although, is that what we have now right here is RGG Studio at its highest. We’re not gonna spoil any of the surprises, however Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth offers us a significant and correctly emotional journey of self-discovery amidst the entire excesses for each Ichiban and Kiryu. It nails the stress, the violence and the drama. It’s acquired the most effective fight and facet actions within the sequence to this point, performs completely on Series X and appears and sounds incredible as well.
So, finest Yakuza sport to this point then? We reckon so. Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth manages to wrangle the entire franchise’s excesses, its loopy facet actions and epic storyline, into an expertise that feels extra fluid and refined than ever earlier than. If you thought Kiryu and Ichiban becoming a member of forces sounded hella good on paper, you are in for fairly the deal with. Yakuza: Like A Dragon got here shut, however this incredible follow-up manages to get an enormous fats 10 out of us.