Yakuza: Like a Dragon is among this month’s Humble Choice selections. And without any preamble — I’m just going to jump in and say that did I not already own it, I would’ve jumped in this month to pick it up, no question.

But I should also tell you, that my immediate inclination to jump on the opportunity has far more to do with what I know — or think I know — of the series, as opposed to any direct experience with the game firsthand. I have about five hours in Yakuza: Like A Dragon now, and a further eight or so hours in Yakuza Zero.

When each game in the series can span a hundred hours or more — this is barely the lightest of scratches across the surface.

As to what the series is, if you’re unfamiliar… I’m unsure I can do it justice. But if you imagine a Grand Theft Auto set (mostly) in Japan, albeit focusing less on the random chaos and more interested in telling the story of a Soprano-like crime drama, with the ups and downs of trust, loyalty and betrayal.

… But then off the side of all that, is an insane degree of whimsy. Side games and content galore; from karaoke to running entertainment establishments or resorts (depending on the entry in question). Sometimes chickens feature.

Each game can be quite long (at least if you’re going for even a semi-completionist run), and, uh, there are something like nine mainline entries into the series now. Yakuza: Like A Dragon is the seventh numbered game… But they start at Zero. All to say — it’s a daunting series to consider starting. It has long sat in a position of, ‘I would like to, but… so… much… content!’ for me.

What potentially helps with this though?

While games Zero through Six focus on a character named Kiryu, Seven introduces a new protagonist — Ichiban Kasuga. And so, happens to be the second somewhat accepted entry point to the series as a whole.

And you know what?

So far, with the limited hours I’ve spent at both possible entry points, I prefer this one. The opening is stronger, with a less meandering start. I haven’t been made to feel lost — although I do know Kiryu does become a recurring character in, if not this game, then certainly the next — and I think I prefer the shift in combat style, too.

Oh yeah- in addition to the protagonist change; the combat shifted from being a brawler in the first games to a full-on JRPG with turn-based combat.

It doesn’t throw all of its action roots away though. You can — optionally — perfectly guard for a very small damage reduction, or hit button prompts correctly to enhance certain of your skills for a little more damage.

But as I gained different party members, levelled up our starting Jobs (classes) a bit, and gained access to more abilities and more challenging fights the game really started to spread its wings. All set to a backdrop of a well-told story with solid emotional beats and, perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, something real to actually say.

For the first couple of hours, I was worried that perhaps the combat was a little too simple. Nothing really posed a challenge, I had limited skills, and generally, a basic attack was all that was needed anyway.

The time spent in the homeless camp was affecting and gave a perspective I’d not given that much thought to.

I will be playing more Yakuza: Like A Dragon; and despite how early into the experience I am — I think I’d go so far as to say I’m excited to keep going with the series from here out. Like A Dragon makes this month’s Humble Choice an easy one to recommend.

Categories: Other Games

Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

1 Comment

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