“Jacob in time!”
- System: PS5, PS4, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
- Publisher: sega
- Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
- Release Date: February 21, 2023
SEGA is known for creating some of the most successful and longest running franchises – Sonic the Hedgehog for example – but their most iconic and best loved mature series goes to the Yakuza series. This action-adventure title set on the mean streets of the red-light district Kamurocho – with the exception of few Yakuza titles – has players take on the role of Kazuma Kiryu, an ex-yakuza who must defeat former friends and foes in a quest for vengeance and stay alive The Yakuza series has spawned more than a handful of games, but not one of the spin-offs has ever graced our western shores… until now!
Enter Ryu ga Gotoku Isshin or Remake in Like a Dragon: Isshin now! Unlike the modern Yakuza series, Like a Dragon: Isshin goes back in time to the end of Japan’s Edo period and sets a new main man on a path of revenge! Daze Like a Dragon: Isshin deserves a place in our yakuza-loving gamer hearts or is this spin-off better off leaving Rusty Sword to collect dust? We find out in our review of Like a Dragon: Isshin for PS5!
Unlike the greater majority of Yakuza games, Like a Dragon: Isshin stars not Kazuma Kiryu but a samurai-like Kiryu-named Sakamoto Ryoma. Like our original series protagonist, Ryoma quickly goes from an already tough life to a tough one when he becomes involved in a massive conspiracy that we can’t spoil but is similar to most yakuza stories. Now as Ryoma, your task is to avenge a fallen friend – again no spoilers – and change the landscape of your new world to be in Kyo. It sounds ridiculous at first, but those who’ve played the long-running Yakuza series know that these movie drama stories are the reason it’s so easy to dive into the world and stick with it until the end credits.
While Like a Dragon: Isshin is a bit slow in the beginning, the story gets progressively deeper and eventually becomes a true tale worthy of samurai legends. There are even some “real” historical themes and characters inserted in Like a Dragon: Ishin, but a lot of it is fictional, so don’t use what you learn here for any college thesis.
Moving away from the more JRPG format of previous Yakuza games, Like a Dragon: Isshin is a straight-up brawler similar to many other Yakuza games. Ryoma is able to strike down with his fists in combat or use his swordsmanship and even gun-kata in combat. Players can often switch freely between the four styles and you will need to because each style has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Brawler genre is the age-old Yakuza in which Ryoma punches, grapples, and kicks his enemies. Still, the brawler genre means you need to get up close and personal and it’s a good way to get damaged easily when enemies are using guns/swords!
The Swordsman/Gunman style is pretty self-explanatory: one uses a sword and the other a gun – more on guns in a moment – but a really cool hybrid style is called Wild Dancer and it’s a style we think Most will bow down. Even we here in Honey’s anime often find ourselves moving from other styles to Wild Dancer as it allows Ryoma to dual wield both sword and gun for some “wild” moves and abilities Is! It’s fun to experiment with each style and you can never count on it like a dragon: Isshin sometimes puts our “heroes” in situations where only a particular style can be used to defeat a boss or situation. can be done for
A new system with this remade Like a Dragon: Isshin is the Trooper Card system where later in the game you can get special Trooper Cards – some themed after real-world people like Vampybitme – that can be used for special attacks and effects. can be done! These cards weren’t used in the original game, but we really love their addition as it adds some spice to the later battles!
Like a Dragon: Isshin is largely like all yakuza games. You run around different locations, talk with the locals, get into random fights, play absurd mini-games – no arcade this time because that would be bizarre – and play the story as you progress. Will carry forward! You can earn XP by helping people and fighting to get special perks/upgrades for your styles and various rewards. Like Dragon: Isshin is basically a Yakuza game and that’s why fans won’t need much explanation as to what they can expect. However, Like a Dragon: Isshin is clearly a remake of an older game and this can be seen in the various areas of the title.
Graphically, Like a Dragon: Isshin looks good and still has that amazing facial animation that the Yakuza series pulled off but the settings and some of the gameplay feel outdated. The gun style in Like a Dragon: Ishin is our biggest gripe, though it does feel… cheap. In a series known for tough battles that test your reflexes and gaming skills, the gun-focused style in Like a Dragon: Ishin finds out how to best mash a button, dodge, and hit for maximum effect. Have to continue to mash. You can easily fool some bosses with the gun and its unlimited bullets as well as fend off trickster enemies. Yeah, looking at Kiryu… we mean Ryoma with a gun is awesome and the Wild Dancer style is amazing but Like a Dragon: Isshin is a pretty simple game compared to other Yakuza titles.
After playing bizarrely all the Yakuza games—and we mean even the 3D shooter about zombies Yakuza: Dead Souls—we fell in love with the recent Yakuza: Like a Dragon which ditched the combat for a turn-based experience. . Even though we love the beat-down style of the original Yakuza game series, Like a Dragon: Isshin feels like a step back and in between these amazing titles. The combat is good and the exploration/story is unique but Yakuza: Like a Dragon had an amazing turn-based system and Yakuza 1/2 Kiwami were just stellar brawler experiences. Like the Dragon: Isshin feels like a forgotten half-brother of the franchise and while it’s a cool game…it feels weirdly out there in a franchise known for being different.
Are you buying or passing Like a Dragon: Ishin Day One? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below! Be sure to stick to our stylish hive here for even more game reviews and all things Otaku related!