What’s it? A Yakuza side-story, set throughout the occasions of Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
Launch date November 8, 2023
Count on to pay $50/£45
Developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Reviewed on Ryzen 7 3700X, 32GB RAM, RTX 3080Ti
Steam Deck TBA
Hyperlink Official web site
The Like a Dragon sequence—Yakuza, because it was beforehand identified—has all the time been economical with its reuse of belongings and options. Even main new releases recycle outdated areas and minigames alongside no matter new options in addition they add. Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Title, although, isn’t a ‘main’ launch. It is a sidestory—one which bridges the hole in protagonist Kiryu’s story between Yakuza 6 and the upcoming Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth.
In consequence, it is shorter and fewer formidable than a foremost sequence entry. There’s little or no right here that feels new. The motion is predominantly in Sotenbori—the sequence’ tackle Osaka’s Dōtonbori district, used steadily in earlier video games. The minigames are a tried and true assortment of Yakuza classics, from mahjong to karaoke to the return of pocket circuit racing. There may be one new location, The Fortress—an absurd offshore getaway for wealthy hedonistic assholes. In apply, although, it is only a hub for the battle area and a returning handful of playing minigames.
Rattling it, although, it nonetheless works. The character of the sequence—its deal with story and character; on dramatic plot and absurd substories—makes each sport one thing greater than the sum of its distractions. A returning location is an opportunity to see how the world has modified since your final go to. A reused minigame proves a welcome break because the story’s rigidity continues to construct. All of it feels very snug, particularly now that the mainline sequence has moved onto a brand new lead protagonist and a brand new turn-based fight system.
Kiryu’s return means we’re again to the basic brawling that was as soon as a staple of the sequence. And right here, a minimum of, there are some new toys to play with. Kiryu can change between two fight kinds: Yakuza and Agent. The previous is your conventional powerhouse moveset—Tiger Drop and all—utilizing the sequence customary combos of punches, kicks, and avenue props turned weapons. The latter is extra nimble, but additionally loaded with devices. Maintain the grapple button, as an example, and you will hearth out Spider, a wrist-mounted rope that may lasso enemies to be flung round or reeled in for a follow-up assault.
Not all the devices are significantly helpful. Firefly—a cigarette that can be a bomb—simply is not very efficient. Deploying it leaves you weak to assault, and the explosion itself is weak, even upgraded. The most effective of the bunch is Serpent, aka the rocket sneakers. By holding the run button, you’ll be able to glide throughout a avenue combat pulling down enemies in your path. It appears ridiculous and it is also hilariously overpowered, able to clearing out scores of weaker enemies. Within the closing missions, as the sport throws more and more absurd numbers of grunts at you, I did a variety of injury by skating forwards and backwards via the pack, solely switching to Yakuza fashion as soon as I used to be all the way down to a extra manageable variety of beefier opponents.
Why is Kiryu now the proprietor of an arsenal that even James Bond would assume is a bit a lot? It is as a result of he is successfully a undercover agent now—a person indentured to a shadowy political faction as a part of the deal he struck on the finish of Yakuza 6. The story of Like a Dragon Gaiden runs parallel with Yakuza: Like a Dragon, explaining what he is been doing since he faked his personal dying, and—for probably the most half—it is a triumph.
It is a shorter story than common—simply 5 chapters—however it achieves rather a lot in that point because of a supporting solid that continues to be nuanced and intriguing all through. Kiryu’s obligation to the Daidoji Faction is a very fascinating wrinkle, testing his sense of honour and the promise he made in opposition to his sense of honour and the bonds he nonetheless holds pricey. It additionally forces him to go by a brand new codename, “Joryu”, pretending he is useless even to individuals who very clearly know precisely who he’s.
Gaiden’s best energy is that it persuaded me that Yakuza 6’s unsatisfying lack of a definitive conclusion was really the precise transfer. That, as a personality, Kiryu nonetheless has extra to supply than only a cameo in another person’s story. The heartbreaking emotional intestine punch of its conclusion signifies that, for the primary time shortly, I am excited to see what’s subsequent for the outdated canine and his new tips.
Away from the story, Gaiden provides construction to exploration via the Akame Community—named after the Sotenbori fixer you meet after arriving within the metropolis. That is how Gaiden handles substories—known as requests—and the way it rewards you for exploration. Finishing requests, or ticking off objects from the completion checklist, provides you factors. You want each factors and money to improve your abilities, and any spare factors you’ve gotten will also be spent in Akame’s store. It is a good construction, particularly for a smaller sport corresponding to this—making all the pieces you do really feel prefer it ties on to your development. I do want there was extra performed with the substories, although. There’s solely round 24 requests, and of them solely a handful really feel as memorable as Kiryu’s sidequests in previous video games.
The battle area has additionally been upgraded with the addition of Hell Staff Rumble, a team-based mode that requires you to achieve allies. As in earlier clan builder modes, you’ll be able to recruit a combination of recent and outdated faces—sure, even Gary Buster Holmes. It is a gentle twist on a Yakuza basic, however the pure rhythm of combating and levelling is straightforward to lose your self in. As I stated earlier than, it is all very snug.
Arguably I am damning with faint reward, however I do respect that Gaiden’s scope has led to what seems like extra manageable targets. Regardless of having performed each Yakuza sport between 50 and 100 hours, I’m not a sequence completionist. I am going to undergo the story, the substories, and the large aspect actions. I am going to even spend an hour or ten taking part in mahjong or koi-koi to unwind. However I am performed lengthy earlier than I am going to end the battle area or any of the sequence’ different main timesinks.
Gaiden seems like a pattern platter of sequence classics. 25 hours in, I’ve already cleared the story, a lot of the substories, and a great chunk of the world battles. I am levelling up my group in preparation to take out the 4 kings—a sidestory that pits you in opposition to the perfect of the world’s fighters. I am working via pocket circuit races virtually regardless of myself. Even condensed, there’s sufficient right here to maintain me busy till Infinite Wealth releases in January.
It does need to be famous that this can be a $50 launch that, finally, presents a lot lower than another sport within the sequence. In isolation, it is a cheap value for a sport that I’ll in all probability put properly over 30 hours into, however if you happen to’re a newcomer, there’s higher worth elsewhere. For $10 extra you may get Yakuza: Like a Dragon, an absurdly expansive JRPG that I performed for over 100 hours. For $20, you may get Yakuza 0, arguably nonetheless the highpoint of the sequence and the right entrypoint for brand new gamers.
As a fan, although, I do not actually begrudge Gaiden’s value or its compromises. It nonetheless presents tens of hours of leisure, and, most significantly, it is a compelling new chapter for the sequence’ unique protagonist. In case you’re in any respect invested in Kitryu’s story, it is rattling close to important.