Sega has produced some of the best series in video games history. That historic legacy continues through Yakuza: Like A Dragon, the seventh installment in the Yakuza series.
Though the game has all of the elements of the Yakuza series, it plays nothing like its predecessor. Sega has taken its original beat-em-up concept and doused it with a full-pledge RPG mechanic. For returning players, this means the classic action-based battles that they have been acclimated to are now a turn-based combat.
But I will say this much: It’s still a great Yakuza game with every event as frantic as its previous iteration. The new turn-based system will definitely appeal to new players (as it will provide tremendous accessibility to them). But it may not generate the same interest among veterans of the series.
Ichiban Kasuga is our current leading guy, who takes over as the new protagonist in Yakuza: Like A Dragon, replacing the series main guy Kiryu Kazuma. Compared to Kiryu, Ichiban has a more laid-back personality. He’s more cheerful and exciting to play with.
The story revolves around Ichiban who had taken the fall for another member of his gang. As a result, he was sent to prison for several years. Nobody came to see him when he was released. He confronted his former boss to see what was going on. His search for an answer led him to being shot and left to die.
He woke up in Yokohama, broke and homeless. But he was able to pick himself up and eventually discovered a big conspiracy that involves his family and a mysterious bank note.
Now comes the fun part. If you’ve been a fan of the Yakuza series, then you already know how exciting the fighting scenes go. Since the gameplay runs on the new turn-based combat system, it’s amazing how the studio is able to still preserve the fast-paced action sequence that we have come to love and enjoy.
The fight scene takes you wherever the foes are – streets, sewers, roofs – you name it! The foundation of a turn-based combat is that enemies cannot attack while you choose your action (and vice versa). These are your options: standard attacks, skills, and items.
I had the most fun performing AOE attack, which allows me to dish out as many hits as possible. I had to muscle through not just drunks and street thugs, but also Yakuza headsmen, mental patients, and chefs! Since this is now an RPG game, you need to develop a combat strategy, especially against bad guys that can inflict damage over time like poison or bleeding.
What I like best about the fight scene is that you can depend on your environment to assist you with enemy take downs. You can use garbage cans, orange cones and even bicycles nearby.
If you really want to up the ante against your foes, you can call on your “Poundmates”, which lets you perform party-based attacks that deliver insane damage in a cinematic fashion!
Beyond the scope of combat, there is a job class system, which lets you customize your party to suit your fighting style. A job can improve a character’s unique attacks, stats, equipment and skills. The higher the job level, the more solid its attacks.
With regards to graphics, Like A Dragon is an incredibly detailed game! The latest depiction of Tokyo, which is called Yokohama, is about 10 times bigger than the original Kamurocho real estate. Every time you take the streets, there is constant discovery – be it the parlors, clubs, bars, arcades – you develop a feel for the city.
From tall buildings that cast long shadows over businesses below to motion capture scenes, this is the franchise’s best visuals yet! The Dragon engine used to create the city makes it fun to explore and live in It. The animations and sounds all come together to produce the experience of being in Japan without going there.
Developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio did a fantastic job. They’ve given the Yakuza series a new lease on life, offering customizability and a satisfying combat system. Sure, it is radically different from what the fans are used to. But, the fact remains this is a gorgeous mafia masterpiece through and through!