Yakuza: Like a Dragon - Review @ Cinelinx
Cinelinx reviewed Yakuza: Like a Dragon:
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
SEGA and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s reboot of the widely popular Yakuza franchise is finally out on Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a major departure from the mainline series we’ve known for almost two decades, but it stands on its own as a quirky, yet original epic. This is our review of Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
A Quirky Origin of the Next Great Yakuza Hero
Over the last 15+ years, SEGA and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio have been telling the story of Kazuma Kiryu and his life as a member of the Tojo Clan, one of the biggest Yakuza families in all of Japan. His arc comprised seven Yakuza titles, which also produced a few spin-off games. When his story seemingly ended at the end of Yakuza 6, many wondered if that was the end of the mainline franchise.
Thankfully, that would not be the case, as the publisher and studio announced that they would be moving the focus of the series off of Kiryu and onto a fresh cast of characters with Yakuza: Like a Dragon, most notably banished ex-Yakuza member Ichiban Kasuga.
The story of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, starts off on New Years Eve in the year 2000. At this point in time, Kasuga is a lowly grunt within the little-regarded Arakawa family, a small member of the Tojo Clan. Indebted to his patriarch, Kasuga works hard and does everything he can to bring honor to his family. His devotion is tested when he is asked to take the fall for the murder of a major Yakuza member who is part of a family ranked higher than the Arakawa family. Eager to prove himself, Kasuga accepts and finds himself banished from the Arakawa family and imprisoned for roughly 18 years.
Expecting a hero’s welcome upon his release, Kasuga is greeted instead by the harsh reality that the world he knew 18 years ago is gone and sometimes you can’t go back home. After a bloody reunion with his former family, Kasuga is dumped in the downtrodden city of Yokohama. With a new group of friends to call family and a city in need to call home, Kasuga presses the reboot button on his life to make the most of his situation in his new home.
The Yakuza series is regarded by many (including myself) as one of the greatest video game franchises of all time. The way it told the story of Kiryu and his associates and even his enemies was storytelling at its finest, almost like it belongs on HBO. With a new character becoming the face of the franchise, I didn’t think Like a Dragon could live up to the majesty that was the original Yakuza series. Yet, somehow through all its crazy, quirkiness it does just that and more.
Should You Play It?
If you’ve never played a Yakuza game, you may think you might be out of loop with Yakuza: Like a Dragon. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. While yes, veteran players will have a better contextual knowledge of the Tojo Clan and their various enemies and characters from previous games, but Like a Dragon does a good job of moving on without rehashing the past series. Instead, they focus on the new characters to let the player enjoy the new story, without needing to have played the previous games. Therefore, you should never feel out of the loop with Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
If turn-based style RPGs are your thing, Yakuza: Like a Dragon is 100% a must-play game. Even if they aren’t and you just want to experience a sensational story or even just laugh and have a good time, this is absolutely the game for you.
I can’t gush about this game enough. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is everything I wanted the new generation of the series to be. It’s funny, heartfelt, brutal, badass, and wonderfully entertaining. Yakuza: Like a Dragon stands shoulder to shoulder with the best games that have been released this year.
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