Throughout its history, the Like a Dragon series, which was once known as Yakuza, has consistently shown a cost-effective approach to the reuse of assets and features. Even big new versions reuse previously implemented locations and minigames, in addition to including any new features that may be included. It is important to note that Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is not considered a “major” release. Specifically, it is a side story that serves to bridge the gap in the narrative of the protagonist Kiryu between Yakuza 6 and the forthcoming Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth for the game.
One consequence of this is that it is shorter and less ambitious than an item in the main series. There is virtually nothing that seems to be new in this place. The majority of the action takes place in Sotenbori, which is the series’ interpretation of Osaka’s Dōtonbori area, which has been used in a number of prior games. A collection of tried and true Yakuza classics, the minigames include mahjong, karaoke, and the return of pocket circuit racing. The minigames are a compilation of Yakuza oldies. One new place has been added, and it is called The Castle. It is an outrageous offshore hideaway for wealthy, hedonistic bastards. In actuality, however, it is little more than a central location for the fighting arena and a few gambling minigames that are constantly being added.
Unfortunately, it is still effective. Damn it. Every game in the series is something more than the sum of its own diversions because of the nature of the series, which places an emphasis on narrative and character, as well as on dramatic storylines and ludicrous substories. When you go back to a place, you have the opportunity to observe how the world has evolved since the last time you were there. As the stress in the plot continues to rise, a minigame that has been played before is a pleasant source of relief. It is all extremely comfortable, particularly considering that the primary series has just transitioned to a new lead protagonist and a new turn-based combat system.
As a result of Kiryu’s reappearance, we are once again able to engage in the traditional fighting that was once a mainstay of the series. To add insult to injury, there are some brand new toys to play with right here. The Yakuza and the Agent are the two fighting techniques that Kiryu is able to switch between. The former is your usual powerhouse moveset, complete with the Tiger Drop and other techniques, and it utilises the series’ regular combinations of punches, kicks, and street objects being transformed into weapons. While the latter is more agile, it is also packed with a variety of devices. For example, if you hold down the grapple button, you will be able to unleash Spider, a rope that is attached to your wrist and can be used to lasso adversaries so that they may be thrown about or pulled in for a subsequent assault.
Not all of the devices are really helpful in their own right. Simply put, Firefly, which is a cigarette that also functions as a bomb, is not very successful. Your vulnerability to assault is increased when you deploy it, and the explosion itself is weak, even after it has been enhanced. Serpent, often known as the rocket shoes, is the most impressive of the four. Simply by holding down the run button, you will be able to glide through street combat and eliminate any foes that are in your way. Not only does it have a bizarre appearance, but it is also comically powerful since it is able to eliminate a large number of weaker adversaries. During the last tasks, when the game threw an increasing number of grunts at you, I caused a lot of damage by skating back and forth through the pack. I only switched to the Yakuza style of combat after I was down to a more manageable number of opponents who were more powerful.
What is the reason why Kiryu now has a collection of weapons that even James Bond would consider excessive? This is due to the fact that he is now essentially a secret spy, a man who is bonded to a dark political organisation as a result of the agreement that he signed at the conclusion of Yakuza 6. A similarity may be drawn between the narratives of Like a Dragon Gaiden and Yakuza: It is an accomplishment, for the most part, that he is able to describe what he has been doing ever since he faked his own death. Like a dragon.
The fact that Gaiden was able to convince me that Yakuza 6’s frustrating lack of a conclusive ending was really the correct choice is the game’s greatest strength.
The narrative is shorter than typical, consisting of just five chapters, yet it accomplishes a great deal in that span of time owing to a supporting cast that maintains its subtlety and intrigue for the whole of the plot. Kiryu’s responsibility to the Daidoji Faction is a particularly intriguing wrinkle that puts his sense of honour and the vow he made to the test. It also puts his sense of honour and the ties he still holds dear to the test. In addition to this, it compels him to adopt a new pseudonym, “Joryu,” and to fool others into believing that he is no longer alive, even if they are aware of his true identity.
The fact that Gaiden was able to convince me that Yakuza 6’s frustrating lack of a conclusive ending was really the correct choice is the game’s greatest strength. As a character, Kiryu still has more to contribute than merely a cameo in the tale of another person can adequately convey. I’m interested to see what the old dog and his new tricks have in store for me for the first time in a while since the finale of the show delivered a gut punch of emotions that was both upsetting and emotional.
Away from the narrative, Gaiden provides a framework for exploration via the Akame Network, which is named after the Sotenbori fixer you encounter after arriving in the city. This is the manner in which Gaiden deals with substories, which are referred to as requests, and how it pays you for exploring. You will earn points by completing requests or by checking off items on the list of things that need to be completed. For you to be able to enhance your talents, you will need both points and cash. Additionally, any extra points that you have accumulated may be used at Akame’s store. It is an excellent structure, particularly for a tiny game like this one, since it gives the impression that everything you do is directly related to your growth. Nevertheless, I do wish that there had been more work done with the substories. The number of requests is only around twenty-four, and only a few of them seem as memorable as the side tasks that Kiryu encountered in previous games.
Additional improvements have been made to the fighting arena, including the inclusion of Hell Team Rumble, a mode that is centred on teams and requires players to acquire friends. As was the case in earlier clan-building games, you have the ability to recruit a diverse group of new and familiar names, like Gary Buster Holmes. Although it is a humorous take on a traditional Yakuza game, the natural rhythm of fighting and levelling is so compelling that it is easy to get lost in it. I’ve said it before, but everything is incredibly pleasant.
The fact that Gaiden’s scope has resulted in objectives that seem to be more doable is something that I enjoy, even if it might be argued that I am praising with weak praise. Despite the fact that I have spent between fifty and one hundred hours playing each and every Yakuza game, I am not a series completionist. At this point, I will discuss the main tale as well as the substories and the major side activities. For the sake of unwinding, I will even spend an hour or ten minutes playing mahjong or koi-koi. However, I will not be able to complete the combat arena or any of the other significant time suckers in the series until a very long time from now.
Gaiden has the sense of a sampling platter of series classics for the most part. After twenty-five hours of play, I have already completed the main tale, the majority of the substories, and a significant portion of the arena bouts. A side plot that matches you against the very finest of the arena’s combatants is now taking place, and I am currently building up my squad in preparation for taking out the four kings. Working through pocket circuit races is something I’m doing nearly against my will. Although it is condensed, there is plenty of material here to keep me occupied until the publication of Infinite Wealth in January.
It should be brought to your attention that this is a $50 release that, in the end, provides a far lower level of content than any previous game in the series. In isolation, it is a good price for a game that I will probably invest well over thirty hours into, but if you are considering purchasing it for the first time, there are other options that provide greater value. A Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) that I played for more than one hundred hours, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, is available for an additional ten dollars. For twenty dollars, you may get Yakuza 0, which is widely considered to be the pinnacle of the series and serves as an ideal starting point for novice gamers.
However, as a fan, I do not really feel any resentment against Gaiden’s pricing or the concessions it makes. It continues to provide tens of hours of amusement, and most importantly, it is a captivating new chapter for the protagonist, who was introduced in the first installment of the series. It is absolutely necessary if you have even the slightest enthusiasm for Kitryu’s narrative.