Yakuza: Like A Dragon Review: A Must-Play JRPG


Overview of Yakuza: Like A Dragon

Yakuza: Like A Dragon, developed and published by Sega, is a must-play JRPG that brings a fresh twist to the beloved Yakuza series. Released in 2020, the game introduces a new protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga, and takes place in the bustling city of Yokohama.

Unlike its predecessors, Yakuza: Like A Dragon embraces a turn-based combat system, adding a layer of strategic depth to the gameplay. The engaging storyline and well-written characters bring the immersive world of Yakuza to life, captivating players from start to finish.

Set against the backdrop of the criminal underworld, the game explores themes of loyalty, redemption, and personal growth. As players navigate Ichiban’s journey, they discover a richly detailed open world that is teeming with activities and side quests to explore.

The game’s graphic design and sound production are top-notch, immersing players in the vibrant and dynamic atmosphere of Yokohama. Whether it’s the bustling streets or the neon-lit entertainment districts, the visuals are breathtaking.

Yakuza: Like A Dragon also introduces a job system, allowing players to choose from a variety of professions for their characters. Each job comes with unique abilities and skillsets, empowering players to customize their playstyle and develop their party in unique ways.

Beyond the gripping main storyline, Yakuza: Like A Dragon offers a plethora of side activities and mini-games to indulge in. From karaoke and batting cages to managing a business and participating in underground fight clubs, there is always something new and exciting to experience.

Furthermore, Yakuza: Like A Dragon incorporates social commentary, tackling topics such as class inequality and corporate corruption. The game masterfully weaves these themes into its narrative, elevating it beyond a mere crime drama.

Storyline and Characters

Yakuza: Like A Dragon presents players with a gripping storyline filled with twists and turns that keep them on the edge of their seats. The game follows the journey of Ichiban Kasuga, a low-ranking yakuza member who takes the fall for a crime he did not commit, only to be released after 18 years in prison. As he returns to society, Ichiban embarks on a quest for redemption and a search for truth that leads him deep into the heart of Yokohama’s underworld.

Throughout the game, players encounter a diverse cast of characters, each with their own motivations and stories. Ichiban himself is a lovable and optimistic protagonist, contrasting the stoic demeanor of his predecessor, Kazuma Kiryu. His charisma and unwavering loyalty make him an endearing character to root for.

Joining Ichiban on his journey are a colorful ensemble of companions, including the determined ex-cop Adachi, the formidable bartender Saeko, and the enigmatic homeless veteran Nanba. Each character brings a unique set of skills and perspectives to the party, making for dynamic and entertaining interactions.

The antagonist, Masumi Arakawa, plays a central role in the story. He is the patriarch of the Arakawa family, and his complex relationship with Ichiban serves as a driving force for the narrative. Layers of betrayal, revenge, and familial bonds are intricately woven into the story, creating a captivating and immersive experience.

Moreover, Yakuza: Like A Dragon skillfully explores personal growth and self-discovery through its characters. As the story progresses, players witness the transformation of not only Ichiban but also the supporting cast. The deep character development adds emotional depth to the narrative and keeps players engaged in the journey.

With its compelling storyline and well-rounded characters, Yakuza: Like A Dragon sets a high standard for narrative-driven JRPGs. It keeps players invested in the fates of the characters, their relationships, and the overarching mysteries that unfold throughout the game.

Gameplay Mechanics

Yakuza: Like A Dragon offers a rich and immersive gameplay experience with a variety of mechanics that enhance the overall enjoyment of the game. From turn-based combat to skill development and exploration, the game keeps players engaged and entertained.

One of the notable additions to the Yakuza series is the shift to a turn-based combat system. This change brings an element of strategy to the battles, requiring players to carefully choose their moves, utilize synergies between party members, and exploit enemy weaknesses. The combat system is intuitive and accessible, making it enjoyable for both newcomers and long-time fans of the franchise.

In addition to combat, the game introduces a comprehensive job system that allows players to assign specific roles to their characters. Each job comes with its own unique abilities, skill trees, and playstyles. This system provides a wide range of customization options, enabling players to tailor their party’s abilities and tactics to suit their preferred playstyle.

Exploration is a key aspect of Yakuza: Like A Dragon, and the open-world setting of Yokohama is filled with numerous sub-stories, side quests, and mini-games to discover. Whether it’s helping a struggling chef, engaging in street races, or participating in a dance battle, the game offers a plethora of activities that add depth and variety to the gameplay experience.

Furthermore, the game seamlessly transitions between serious and light-hearted moments, incorporating humor and charm into its gameplay mechanics. From engaging in amusing conversations with NPCs to participating in quirky mini-games like managing a business or collecting cans, Yakuza: Like A Dragon strikes a perfect balance between the serious and the absurd.

Aside from the main questline, players can also delve into a variety of side activities such as arcade games, karaoke, darts, and even a new management minigame called “The Dragon Kart,” which adds a delightful extra layer of gameplay to the experience.

Overall, Yakuza: Like A Dragon offers a diverse range of gameplay mechanics that keep players engaged and entertained throughout their journey. The turn-based combat system, the job system, and the open-world exploration contribute to the depth and enjoyment of the game, ensuring that players are constantly immersed in its captivating gameplay experience.

Turn-Based Combat System

Yakuza: Like A Dragon introduces a fresh spin to the series’ combat mechanics by adopting a turn-based system. This departure from the traditional beat-em-up style combat brings a new layer of strategy and depth to the gameplay, giving players a unique and engaging experience.

The turn-based combat in Yakuza: Like A Dragon allows players to strategically plan their actions, choosing from a variety of attacks, skills, and item usage. Each character in the party has their own distinct abilities and playstyle, creating a diverse and dynamic team dynamic.

During battles, players are not only tasked with dealing damage to enemies but also with exploiting their weaknesses. By identifying and targeting enemy vulnerabilities, players can deliver devastating attacks and gain a tactical advantage in combat. This adds an extra layer of strategic thinking and decision-making to every encounter.

In addition to traditional attacks, Yakuza: Like A Dragon incorporates the use of “Jobs” that allow characters to take on specific roles with unique abilities. These jobs range from classic roles like the strong melee-focused “Hero” or the supportive “Cleric,” to unique and quirky roles like the healing-focused “Idol” or the damage-dealing “Musician.”

The job system provides a wealth of customization options and encourages players to experiment with different combinations of jobs for their characters. This not only allows players to tailor their party to their preferred playstyle but also adds depth and replayability to the game as they can further explore the different strategies and synergies between jobs.

As players progress through the game, they can unlock new skills and abilities for their characters by investing in the character’s job-specific skill tree. This skill development system adds a sense of progression and growth, rewarding players for their dedication and allowing them to further strengthen their party’s prowess in combat.

Overall, the turn-based combat system in Yakuza: Like A Dragon is a refreshing departure from the series’ traditional brawling mechanics. It introduces a strategic element that challenges players to think tactically, exploit enemy weaknesses, and experiment with different jobs and abilities. This new combat system adds depth and longevity to the gameplay, ensuring an enjoyable and satisfying experience for fans of the series and newcomers alike.

Job System and Skill Development

Yakuza: Like A Dragon features a robust job system that allows players to assign specific roles to their characters, each with its own unique abilities and skill trees. This system adds a layer of customization and depth to the gameplay, providing players with a diverse range of playstyles and strategies to explore.

At the start of the game, characters have access to basic jobs such as “Bodyguard” or “Detective,” each with its own set of skills and abilities. As players progress through the story and complete side quests, they unlock more jobs, broadening the options for character customization.

By assigning characters to different jobs, players can tailor their party to suit their preferred playstyle. For example, they can choose to focus on heavy physical damage by assigning a character to the “Thug” job, or opt for a more supportive role by assigning them to the “Fortuneteller” job.

As characters gain experience in their jobs, they earn job points that can be used to unlock new skills and abilities in their respective skill trees. This skill development system allows players to further specialize their characters, focusing on specific strengths or rounding out their capabilities with a well-rounded skill set.

The skill trees in Yakuza: Like A Dragon offer a wide range of abilities, including offensive attacks, defensive buffs, healing spells, and utility skills. Players can strategically choose which skills to unlock based on their party composition and the challenges they anticipate in the game.

Furthermore, the skill development system encourages players to experiment with different combinations of jobs and skill setups, as characters can change jobs at any time outside of battle. This flexibility allows for dynamic party compositions and encourages players to adapt their strategies to different encounters.

Moreover, the job system and skill development add a sense of progression and growth to the gameplay. Players can see their characters evolve from inexperienced rookies to powerful warriors as they unlock new jobs, skills, and abilities.

Overall, the job system and skill development in Yakuza: Like A Dragon provide a deep and rewarding gameplay experience. The ability to customize and specialize characters, along with the strategic decision-making involved in skill allocations, ensures that players have a wide array of options and strategies at their disposal. Whether players prefer a balanced party or a specialized team, the job system and skill development mechanics offer ample opportunities for customization and personalization in the game.

Exploring Yokohama’s Open World

Yakuza: Like A Dragon takes place in the sprawling city of Yokohama, presenting players with a vibrant and immersive open world to explore. From bustling streets to hidden alleyways, the game offers a richly detailed environment that invites players to discover its many secrets and engage in a variety of activities.

The open-world setting of Yokohama in Yakuza: Like A Dragon is meticulously crafted, with attention to detail that brings the city to life. From the towering skyscrapers to the authentic recreation of street markets and landmarks, the world feels like a living and breathing metropolis.

Exploration in Yokohama allows players to uncover numerous sub-stories and side quests, each with its own unique characters and narratives. These side activities add depth and richness to the overall gameplay experience, providing additional opportunities to explore the city and interact with its inhabitants.

Throughout Yokohama, players will encounter a variety of districts, each showcasing a different aspect of the city’s culture and lifestyle. Whether it’s the glitzy entertainment district of “Isezaki Ijincho” or the bustling commercial hub of “Chinatown,” each area has its own distinct atmosphere and charm.

In addition to the main story and side quests, players can engage in various minigames and recreational activities scattered throughout the city. From participating in a high-stakes game of poker to belting out popular tunes at a karaoke bar, these diversions add a layer of fun and variety to the open-world experience.

Furthermore, Yokohama is filled with scenic spots and hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. From breathtaking viewpoints where players can take in the city’s skyline to hidden alleyways that lead to secret shops and collectibles, there is always something new and exciting to uncover.

The open world of Yokohama is also teeming with a diverse cast of NPCs, each with their own stories and quirks. Interacting with these characters not only adds depth to the world but also provides valuable insights and rewards.

Overall, exploring Yokohama’s open world in Yakuza: Like A Dragon is a rewarding experience. The meticulously crafted environment, the abundance of side activities and minigames, and the diverse cast of characters offer a sense of immersion and discovery that keeps players engaged in the game’s world.

Side Activities and Mini-Games

In addition to its main storyline, Yakuza: Like A Dragon offers a plethora of side activities and mini-games that provide hours of entertainment and diversify the gameplay experience. From arcade games to unique recreational pursuits, these side activities add depth and immersion to the world of Yokohama.

One prominent aspect of Yakuza: Like A Dragon’s side content is its wide range of mini-games. Players can indulge in nostalgic arcade classics such as “Space Harrier” and “Out Run,” or test their skills in batting cages and dart competitions. These mini-games not only offer a fun diversion from the main gameplay but also provide rewards and progression opportunities.

Karaoke is another beloved activity in Yakuza: Like A Dragon, allowing players to showcase their vocal talents by singing along to popular tunes. The karaoke segments feature lively animations and are a highlight in the game, providing both challenge and amusement.

Aside from traditional games, Yakuza: Like A Dragon introduces unique mini-games that showcase the game’s humor and creativity. Players can manage and grow a business empire in the management simulation game, engage in underground street racing, or even try their hand at becoming a professional clown in the “Poundmates” service.

Additionally, the city of Yokohama offers an array of side activities that reflect its vibrant culture and lifestyle. Players can explore street markets, sampling local delicacies and engaging in deals with vendors, or step into the world of underground fight clubs, testing their combat skills against formidable opponents.

The game also features a variety of collectibles scattered throughout the city, such as unique equipment and rare items. Hunting for these collectibles adds an extra layer of exploration and reward for players who enjoy completing their collection.

Engaging in side activities and mini-games not only provides a break from the main storyline but also contributes to character development and progression. Players can earn experience points, unlock new abilities, and obtain valuable items by participating in these optional activities.

Overall, the side activities and mini-games in Yakuza: Like A Dragon offer a diverse range of experiences that cater to different player preferences. Whether players seek competition, relaxation, or simply want to immerse themselves in the vibrant world of Yokohama, these side activities provide a wealth of enjoyment and rewards.

Sound and Visual Design

Yakuza: Like A Dragon impresses with its exceptional sound and visual design, creating a captivating atmosphere that enhances the overall gaming experience.

The visual design of the game is stunning, with meticulous attention to detail in every aspect of Yokohama’s environment. The city is brought to life with vibrant colors, realistic lighting, and intricate character models. From the bustling streets and towering buildings to the smaller details like storefronts and signage, the visuals of Yakuza: Like A Dragon are a feast for the eyes.

Notably, the characterization is visually striking, with each character having their own unique appearance and distinct personality. The detailed facial expressions and fluid animations deepen the immersion, making the characters feel lifelike and relatable.

The sound design in Yakuza: Like A Dragon is equally impressive. The game features a dynamic and atmospheric soundtrack that enhances the mood and emotions of each scene. From poignant piano arrangements to adrenaline-pumping battle themes, the music elevates the overall experience, drawing players further into the game’s world.

Moreover, the sound effects in the game are highly realistic and intricately designed. From the sounds of footsteps echoing in different environments to the satisfying impact of punches during combat, the attention to detail immerses players in the game’s world and adds depth to the gameplay.

The voice acting in Yakuza: Like A Dragon is top-notch, with a talented cast bringing the characters to life with their performances. The actors brilliantly portray the emotions and nuances of each character, adding a layer of authenticity and emotional depth to the narrative.

Furthermore, the game’s cutscenes are masterfully directed and beautifully animated. The combination of expressive visuals, skillful camera work, and well-executed voice acting makes for captivating storytelling moments that keep players engaged throughout the game.

The overall sound and visual design of Yakuza: Like A Dragon work harmoniously together, creating a cohesive and immersive experience. The attention to detail in the visuals, the quality of the character design, the evocative soundtrack, and the stellar voice acting all contribute to the game’s high production value and make it a visually and audibly striking experience.

Themes and Social Commentary

Yakuza: Like A Dragon delves beyond its gripping story and engaging gameplay to explore deeper themes and provide social commentary, elevating the game from a mere crime drama to a thought-provoking experience.

One of the prominent themes in the game is the exploration of loyalty and camaraderie. The bonds formed between the characters, their unwavering support for one another, and their shared struggles highlight the power of friendship in the face of adversity. This theme resonates throughout the game, underscoring the importance of trust and unity.

Yakuza: Like A Dragon also shines a spotlight on social issues, such as class inequality and corporate corruption. The game exposes the disparity in wealth and opportunities, emphasizing the struggles faced by those on the margins of society. It raises awareness of the challenges faced by the underprivileged and prompts players to reflect on the importance of social justice.

Furthermore, the game tackles the concept of personal growth and redemption. The protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga, starts as a low-ranking yakuza member and embarks on a journey of self-discovery and transformation. His quest for redemption serves as a beacon of hope, showcasing the possibility of change and personal growth even in the face of adversity.

Yakuza: Like A Dragon’s narrative also addresses the consequences of one’s actions and the complexities of morality. It challenges players to navigate moral dilemmas and make choices that have far-reaching consequences, forcing them to confront the consequences of their decisions. This exploration of moral ambiguity adds depth to the storytelling and prompts players to question their own principles and values.

Moreover, the game incorporates a strong sense of cultural identity and tradition, with its Japanese setting and exploration of Japanese society. It offers players a glimpse into the rich and diverse culture of Japan, highlighting the customs, traditions, and values that shape the lives of the characters.

Yakuza: Like A Dragon’s themes and social commentary add layers of depth and complexity to the game’s narrative, sparking introspection and encouraging players to think critically about the issues presented. By addressing profound themes and exploring social issues, the game raises the bar for storytelling in the genre and delivers a truly thought-provoking experience.

Final Verdict: Should You Play Yakuza: Like A Dragon?

Yakuza: Like A Dragon is a must-play JRPG that offers a captivating and immersive experience from start to finish. With its engaging storyline, well-developed characters, and strategic turn-based combat system, the game delivers an excellent blend of narrative-driven gameplay and addictive mechanics.

The game’s storyline is gripping, filled with twists and turns that keep players invested in the fates of the characters. The journey of protagonist Ichiban Kasuga, coupled with the complex relationships and personal growth of the supporting cast, adds emotional depth and drive to the narrative.

The turn-based combat system introduces a refreshing twist to the series’ gameplay, offering a strategic element that keeps battles engaging and challenging. The job system and skill development further enhance customization options, allowing players to tailor their party’s abilities to suit their preferred playstyle.

Exploring the open world of Yokohama is a delight, with its stunning visual design, attention to detail, and diverse range of side activities and mini-games. From arcade classics to unique and quirky pursuits, there is always something fun and rewarding to discover in the city streets.

In addition to its gameplay mechanics, Yakuza: Like A Dragon offers insightful social commentary on themes such as loyalty, personal growth, and social justice. This elevates the game beyond a typical crime drama, prompting players to think critically about the issues presented and resonate with the characters and their struggles.

Ultimately, Yakuza: Like A Dragon is a standout title in the Yakuza series, offering a compelling narrative, immersive gameplay, and thought-provoking themes. Whether you are a long-time fan of the franchise or new to the series, this JRPG is a must-play for anyone seeking an unforgettable gaming experience.

So, if you’re ready to embark on an emotional and action-packed journey through the streets of Yokohama, with a diverse cast of characters, strategic combat, and a richly detailed open world, then Yakuza: Like A Dragon is definitely a game you should not miss.