Yakuza: Like a Dragon

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Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Yakuza like a dragon cover art.jpg
International box art
Developer(s)Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Publisher(s)Sega
Director(s)Ryosuke Horii
Producer(s)
  • Hiroyuki Sakamoto
  • Daisuke Sato
Designer(s)Takanori Naganuma
Programmer(s)Koji Tokieda
Artist(s)Nobuaki Mitake
Writer(s)Masayoshi Yokoyama
Composer(s)
SeriesYakuza
Platform(s)
Release
  • PlayStation 4
    • JP: January 16, 2020
    • WW: November 10, 2020
  • Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
    • WW: November 10, 2020
    • JP: February 25, 2021
  • PlayStation 5
    • WW: March 2, 2021
Genre(s)Role-playing
Mode(s)Single-player

Yakuza: Like a Dragon[a] is a role-playing video game developed and published by Sega. It is the eighth main release in the Yakuza series, and was released in Japan and Asia for PlayStation 4 on January 16, 2020. It had a worldwide release on November 10, 2020 for Microsoft Windows (Japan, East and Southeast Asia excluded, without an official reason given by Sega), PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S; the latter being released with the game as a launch title. A version with the subtitle International[b] was released in Japan and Asia on February 25, 2021 for the Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Windows 10, and on March 2, 2021 for the PlayStation 5; the latter releasing worldwide on the same date. Despite not being numbered for the western release, the game is numbered as "7" in other territories, being released in Japan as "Ryū ga Gotoku 7"

In contrast to the previous Yakuza games that focused on the life of Kazuma Kiryu, a man trying to lead a normal life following his retirement from the Tojo Clan, this game instead introduces a new protagonist named Ichiban Kasuga. After being imprisoned for 18 years only to then be betrayed by his former boss, Ichiban goes on a personal quest to become a hero and uncover the reason for his betrayal alongside other playable characters. The game offers both Japanese and English audio to the player.

Gameplay[edit]

A turn-based fight in the game. Here, Adachi fights an enemy while using the Enforcer Job.

Similar to previous games in the Yakuza series, side-quests (known as sub-stories in-game) can be taken up by the player to gain additional rewards and players are also able to enjoy the various side activities around the map such as karaoke. A new side-activity introduced in this game is Dragon Kart, which is similar to other kart racing games in terms of its gameplay.

A huge departure from previous Yakuza games is the battle system. Instead of the real-time beat 'em up mechanics of previous games, Yakuza: Like a Dragon features turn-based RPG (which was the result of a April Fools joke that was so well received that they retooled the combat from its former real-time beat 'em up mechanics) type combat, with a four-person battle team. However, unlike typical turn-based RPGs, characters may use nearby surrounding items such as bicycles to attack enemies (if the items are near the enemies) or may kick surrounding items to their target if there is an interactive item in the environment on the way to the enemy, an aspect that returns from the previous Yakuza games. Players can also call on various party assists to strengthen the party or defeat enemies, with more assists added as the story progresses or through the completion of sub-stories. Players can still continue exploring the world after completing the game. A new game plus mode with additional difficulty settings exclusive to this mode is scheduled to be released as paid downloadable content.[1]

Complementing the new RPG type combat system are Jobs, a form of character classes similar to other RPGs. Players can change any party member's job to better fit the party's playstyle. Currently, there are two jobs that can only be obtained via paid downloadable content.[2][3]

Synopsis[edit]

The game takes place in Yokohama

Setting and characters[edit]

For the first time in the Yakuza series, the focus shifts away from Tokyo and the game's fictional recreation of Kabukichō, called Kamurocho. Instead, most of the gameplay takes place in the Yokohama district of Isezaki Ijincho,[4][5] which is based on Yokohama's real-life Isezakichō district. However, Kamurocho and the Osaka district Sotenbori (another area from previous Yakuza games that's based on the real-life Dōtonbori district) are featured in the game.[4]

Yakuza: Like a Dragon is also the first main game not to have Kazuma Kiryu as its protagonist, introducing the new character Ichiban Kasuga instead. Sega has described Kasuga as being much more outspoken and emotive than Kiryu.[6] Ichiban was revealed in August 2017. He made his introduction in the mobile title, Yakuza Online, and will then function as a main character in future games.[7]

Alongside Kasuga, other characters that can be recruited to the player's party include Yu Nanba, Koichi Adachi, Saeko Mukoda, Tianyou Zhao, Joon-gi Han, and Eri Kamataki (the latter being an optional party member while the rest are obtained through the main story).[8] Mukoda and Kamataki are the first female fighting characters in the Yakuza series who are directly controlled by the player. Additional characters, once recruited, can be temporarily summoned to assist the party during battle, including previous Yakuza protagonists Kazuma Kiryu,[9] Goro Majima, and Taiga Saejima.[10]

Plot[edit]

In 2001, Ichiban Kasuga, a junior member of the Tojo Clan's Arakawa Family, is asked by the family's patriarch Masumi Arakawa to go to prison for a murder that he did not commit to protect the presumed killer, Jo Sawashiro, his right-hand man that Arakawa considers indispensable. Kasuga agrees, hoping that this will make him a hero in the Tojo Clan, and is eager to repay Arakawa for saving his life in his youth. 18 years later, Kasuga is released from prison only to find that nobody remembers him and no one from his family is even waiting to meet him when he gets out. Instead, he is met by ex-detective Koichi Adachi, who explains that while Kasuga was in jail, Arakawa betrayed the Tojo Clan by revealing their operations to the police, allowing the rival Omi Alliance to move in and take over Kamurocho. Kasuga himself also learns that Arakawa's son, Masato, has supposedly died due to illness, and Arakawa himself has since risen to be the de facto leader of the Omi Alliance. Adachi teams up with Kasuga, as he suspects Arakawa bribed a police commissioner that resulted in his expulsion from the force. With Adachi's help, Kasuga crashes a meeting Arakawa is holding, only to end up shot by Arakawa.

Three days later, Kasuga regains consciousness in Ijincho, having been saved and nursed back to health by Yu Nanba, a local homeless man and ex-nurse. Kasuga quickly learns that somebody deliberately dumped his body in Ijincho which is beyond the Omi Alliance's reach due to the presence of the Ijin Three, a tenuous alliance between the leaders of the Chinese Liumang, Korean Geomijul, and Japanese Seiryu Clan criminal groups. Kasuga also discovers someone smuggled a counterfeit bill in his pocket for unknown reasons. Adachi manages to reunite with Kasuga and Nanba, and they begin taking odd jobs to earn a living while helping people in need. However, one of their bosses, Nonomiya, is murdered by members of the Liumang. Kasuga and his friends investigate the Liumang to find out why they murdered Nonomiya. Saeko Mukoda, one of Nonomiya's employees, joins the group to help their investigation.

Kasuga and his friends become embroiled in a conspiracy involving a massive counterfeiting ring being run by the Ijin Three at the behest of Yutaka Ogikubo, one of Japan's most powerful politicians. They soon discover that the Tokyo Governor, Ryo Aoki is also involved, as he uses his connections with the Omi Alliance to wage war to undermine the Ijin Three's power while at the same time propping up the anti-crime activist group Bleach Japan to bolster his public image. Aoki is also indirectly responsible for Nonomiya's death, as he had traitors in the Liumang murder him to instigate a war between the Liumang and Seiryu Clan. However, Kasuga recognizes Aoki as Masato, who faked his death and assumed a new identity so he could purge his yakuza past and become a politician. It's also revealed that he is the real culprit behind the murder Kasuga took the fall for 18 years ago. Aoki exposes the Ijin Three's counterfeiting operation, ruining Ogikubo's reputation and paving the way for Aoki to take his place as the party chairman. Despite the best efforts of Kasuga and his friends, they fail to stop the Omi Alliance from crushing the Ijin Three. With their factions in tatters, the former Liumang leader Tianyou Zhao and Geomijul agent Joon-gi Han (whose actual identity is Yeonsu Kim, a body double for the real Han who died three years prior) join Kasuga's party. Afterwards, Seiryu Clan leader Ryuhei Hoshino reveals to Kasuga that the counterfeit bill smuggled in his pocket is actually a secret message from Arakawa, proving that Arakawa is still concerned about Kasuga's safety and shot him to fake his death.

With the Omi Alliance set to take over Ijincho's underworld, Aoki sets his sights on taking over Ijincho's politics by putting one of his Bleach Japan loyalists, Souta Kume, in the running for regional representative. With few other avenues of resisting Aoki, Kasuga comes up with the idea of running their own candidate to defeat Kume in the election, denying Aoki his victory. During their preparations, Kasuga hears of an important Omi Alliance meeting in Osaka that Arakawa will attend. He infiltrates the meeting and finds Arakawa with Tojo Clan's sixth chairman Daigo Dojima, alongside his officers Goro Majima and Taiga Saejima. Both Arakawa and Dojima reveal that Arakawa is a double agent who had been weakening the Omi Alliance from within. Arakawa also reveals that when the true Omi leader, Masaru Watase, is released from prison, they will make a joint announcement to formally disband both the Omi Alliance and Tojo Clan to prevent them from being used as tools of the government. The announcement goes as planned, which enrages most of the Omi Alliance members and a brawl begins as Kasuga and his allies protect Watase and Dojima. Amidst the chaos, the legendary yakuza Kazuma Kiryu reveals himself as Watase's bodyguard and assists Kasuga.

After the successful yakuza dissolution, Kasuga meets with Arakawa, and the two reconcile. However, Arakawa ends up being murdered later that night, with the main suspect being Aoki. Kasuga runs against Kume in the election in an effort to draw out Aoki, but Aoki instead orders Sawashiro to assassinate Hoshino as retaliation. Kasuga is unable to prevent Hoshino's death, but Sawashiro turns himself in to the police and reveals that Aoki is actually his son, and Kasuga is Arakawa's legitimate son, but both children were switched at birth due to an unlikely coincidence. Kiryu then meets Kasuga personally and battles him in order to test his resolve. Though Kasuga is defeated, Kiryu decides that Kasuga is a worthy successor to his legacy and gives him vital information about Aoki's plans. In order to stop Aoki permanently, Kasuga and his friends raid the Arakawa headquarters to find evidence they can use to incriminate him. They trick Aoki into ordering a hit on Kasuga and leak the recording online, exposing his true nature. Kasuga pleads with Aoki to give up, as he let his reckless ambition destroy everybody close to him. Aoki is about to come around but is fatally stabbed by his former acolyte, Kume.

Some time later, the evidence found in Arakawa's headquarters leads to the arrest of all of the corrupt officials that he conspired with. Kasuga attends Arakawa and Aoki's funeral, and rather than take Watase and Dojima's offer to join him in Osaka in a new legitimate security firm consisting of both former Omi and Tojo men, decides to remain in Ijincho to stay with his friends and keep watch over the city.

Development[edit]

The game was initially announced on August 26, 2017, alongside Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise and Yakuza Online. During development, the project was code-named Shin Ryu ga Gotoku, meaning "New Like a Dragon" or "Like a New Dragon,"[11] or "Shin-Yakuza" in English.[6] Sega announced that the game's story was completed at the end of May 2019.[11] The gameplay style has changed from the traditional real-time combat into a turn-based RPG following an April Fools joke in 2019. Sega allowed permission from Dragon Quest series creator Yuji Horii to mention Dragon Quest in the game, which was Ichiban's favorite game. Yakuza series creator Toshihiro Nagoshi said that the new style of logo was done to reflect Ichiban Kasuga's differing personality compared to Kazuma Kiryu.[12] Sega have said that they wanted to try a different style of gameplay, but that if it is badly received, they will return to real-time combat for future games.[13] The game is also the first mainline Yakuza title to receive an English dub since the original Yakuza in 2005.[14]

The game's main theme, "Ichibanka", was performed by Shonan no Kaze, who previously performed the main theme of Yakuza 0 and Kurohyō 2: Ryū ga Gotoku Ashura hen, and Yasutaka Nakata. Alongside the English dub, as in Judgment, it would also feature dual English subtitle sets: one with the Japanese audio with English subtitles matching the Japanese translation, and the other matching the English dub, localizations in French, German, Italian, and Spanish, along with 2 new subtitle languages, Portuguese, and Russian, all of which, besides English, are localized, focusing on the Japanese audio. The International release in Japan and Asia, as well as the Western release via an update, will also feature dual audio and 5 localized languages, plus the 2 additional localized languages, along with 3 additional subtitle languages that are originally separate subtitle languages, Japanese, Traditional Chinese, and Korean, plus a new Asian language, Simplified Chinese, for a total of 11 subtitle languages (all non-Asian languages, besides English, are only exclusive to the Western release in the PS5 version). For the first time in the series, karaoke songs in the English dub are sung in English by the English voice cast, with the English versions displaying the English lyrics and the Japanese versions displaying the Japanese romaji lyrics (only when the language set to English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or Russian; Japanese kanji lyrics when set to Japanese; Simplified Chinese lyrics when set to Simplified Chinese; Traditional Chinese lyrics when set to Traditional Chinese; Korean lyrics when set to Korean), unlike the Yakuza Remastered Collection, in which lyrics between the Japanese kanji and romaji and English translation can be toggled.[15] Darryl Kurylo and Bill Farmer reprise their roles from the original Yakuza as Kazuma Kiryu and Makoto Date, respectively. Matthew Mercer replaces Mark Hamill as Goro Majima, David Hayter replaces John DiMaggio as Osamu Kashiwagi, and Isaac C. Singleton Jr. replaces Gary Anthony Williams as Gary Buster Holmes.

The game was released in Japan on January 16, 2020 for PlayStation 4, with the Traditional Chinese and Korean versions being released on the same day.[8][16] It was released worldwide for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the Xbox Series X/S on November 10, 2020.[17][18][19] It was released for Microsoft Windows on the same day, but purchase of the Windows version of the game was blocked in various countries and territories in East Asia and Southeast Asia.[20] A PlayStation 5 version was released on March 2, 2021.[21] In November 2020, it was announced that the release date of the game for the Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC was postponed indefinitely in Japan.[22]

The game was released for the Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Windows in Japan and Asia on February 25, 2021. This version of the game was titled International, as it will contain some features introduced with the worldwide release, such as the English audio track option, the additional costume sets, and the New Game Plus downloadable content included.[23] This version was also released in the region for the PlayStation 5 on March 2, 2021, the same day as its worldwide release.[24] Anyone who makes the purchase of the PS5 version can unlock the "Legends Costume Set" for free.[25]

RGG Studios reported that they're working on making the necessary changes to correct errors for buyers who purchased the free PS4 to PS5 upgrade.[26]

Reception[edit]

Yakuza: Like a Dragon received positive reviews from critics, ending up with "generally favorable reviews" according to Metacritic.[27][28][29][30][31] Critics praised the game's new take on the Yakuza series alongside the characters, but criticized the turn-based battles as being repetitive towards the end of the game.[39][40][41]

Sales[edit]

Yakuza: Like a Dragon was the best selling print game during its first 4 days on sale in Japan, with 300,000 copies sold.[42] By March 2020, a total of 450,000 digital and physical copies had been sold in Japan and Asia.[43]

Awards[edit]

Yakuza: Like a Dragon was awarded a Japan Game Awards Award for Excellence in the Future Division at the Tokyo Game Show 2019.[44]

Yakuza: Like a Dragon was also nominated in The Game Awards 2020 for Best RPG category, but lost to Final Fantasy VII Remake,[45] and received a nomination for Ultimate Game of the Year at the Golden Joystick Awards.[46], along with Role-Playing Game of the Year at the 24th Annual Dice Awards.[47]

Yakuza: Like a Dragon was also awarded with a PlayStation Partner Awards Partner Award for achieving "particularly noteworthy results".[48] Other awards included Hilarious Humor at the Dreamies,[49] and OUTSTANDING Game, Franchise Role Playing at the 2020 NAVGTR Awards where it was also nominated in seven other categories.[50]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Known in Japan as Ryū ga Gotoku 7: Hikari to Yami no Yukue (Japanese: 龍が如く7 光と闇の行方, Like a Dragon 7: Whereabouts of Light and Darkness)
  2. ^ Known in Japan as Ryū ga Gotoku 7: Hikari to Yami no Yukue Intānashonaru (Japanese: 龍が如く7 光と闇の行方 インターナショナル, "Like a Dragon 7: Whereabouts of Light and Darkness International")

References[edit]

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External links[edit]