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Yakuza: Like a Dragon: Everything We Know

December 26, 2019
5 min read

You’ve never played a game quite like the ‘Yakuza’ series. The long-running series tries to do a lot of things at the same time and succeeds at most of them. Time and time again, the franchise has thrived because of rejecting so many of the established game design formulas prevalent in games today. While so many games focus on realism today, ‘Yakuza’ revels in its outlandishness. While most games focus on a streamlined, targeted experience, ‘Yakuza’ opts for gameplay that is a mish-mash of several genres seemingly unrelated to one another.

Despite boasting a loyal fanbase since the series’ inception in 2005, the popularity of the ‘Yakuza’ games has exploded in recent years owing to high profile remakes ‘Yakuza Kiwami’ and ‘Yakuza Kiwami 2’, as well as ports to other platforms including PC and soon to Xbox One as well. The series is known for its proclivity to take risks and off-kilter approach to game and story design. This is especially apparent in the upcoming eight main release in the franchise, ‘Yakuza: Like a Dragon’. Read on to find out everything we know about the newest chapter in the ‘Yakuza’ series.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon Gameplay: What to Expect?

The ‘Yakuza’ games are a series of action-adventure RPG (Role Playing Game) beat ‘em up games that primarily focus on Kazuma Kiryu, a yakuza from the Tojo Clan. The franchise has seen seven major entries so far, starting with the original ‘Yakuza’ in 2005, followed by ‘Yakuza 2’ in 2006, ‘Yakuza 3’ in 2009, ‘Yakuza 4’ in 2010, ‘Yakuza 5’ in 2012, the prequel ‘Yakuza 0’ in 2015 and ‘Yakuza 6: The Song of Life’ in 2016. The first ‘Yakuza’ also got a remake in 2016 titled ‘Yakuza: Kiwami’, followed by ‘Yakuza 2’ remake ‘Yakuza Kiwami 2’ in 2017.

The main character of the series is the legendary yakuza Kazuma Kiryu. He is a playable protagonist is every single ‘Yakuza’ game, sometimes sharing the designation with other characters. Kiryu was raised in the 1970s as an orphan in the Sunflower Orphanage along with his friend Akira ‘Nishiki’ Nishikiyama and Nishiki’s sister Yuko Nishikiyama.

The founder of the orphanage is yakuza boss Shintaro Kazama, who is like a surrogate father to Kiryu and Nishiki. When they become teenagers, the two eager boys are introduced to the Dojima Family, an affiliate family of the Tojo Clan. The series explores Kiryu’s journey through the ranks of the Yakuza, and eventually his ascension beyond them.

The upcoming game in the series ‘Yakuza: Like a Dragon’ is something of a soft reboot for the series. The previous game ‘Yakuza 6: The Song of Life’ wrapped up long-running series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu’s story, and the new game focuses on an entirely new protagonist in an entirely new city.

Our new protagonist is a man named Ichiban Kasuga, a 24-year-old junior member of the Arakawa Family. Kasuga takes the fall for a murder committed by someone else at the behest of his patriarch Masumi Arakawa, spending 18 years in prison in the name of honor and duty. However, when Kasuga is finally released in 2019, he finds that his friends have turned their backs on him. He seeks out his old boss Arakawa only to be betrayed and shot by him.

Kasuga wakes up days later in a garbage dump with stitches in his chest and a man wearing glasses hovering over him. Thus begins our new hero’s journey as he seeks to restore his honor and exact revenge from those who wronged him.

‘Yakuza: Like a Dragon’ also opts for an entirely new setting, leaving behind Kamurocho and traveling all the way over to Isezaki Ijincho, Yokohama. The new city is a port town with a lot more wide and open areas with less congestion.

However, the biggest change in the new game is the one made to the combat system. The ‘Yakuza’ series is famed for its ridiculously over the top beat em’ up combat with unique fighting styles, environmental interactions, and extravagant combos. ‘Yakuza: Like a Dragon’ is set to shake things up significantly with a turn-based RPG party combat system.

You will encounter enemies on the street, upon which the game switches over to a turn-based battle system with character Health Points, Mana Points, unique attacks with elemental damage, AOE damage or knockbacks. This is definitely a drastic departure for the franchise, even for one as adventurous as ‘Yakuza’.

Of course, no ‘Yakuza’ game is complete without a laundry list of absolutely bonkers mini games littered throughout the densely packed and immersive open world. The biggest new addition in this regard is the new Yakuza Kart minigame, which has you race ‘Mario Kart’ style with fun powerups and weapons. Of course, classic ‘Yakuza’ mini-games such as Karaoke, Darts, Golfing, PachiSlot machines, Movie Theater and more all make a return in ‘Yakuza: Like a Dragon’.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon Developers: Who Are the People Behind It?

‘Yakuza: Like a Dragon’ is developed by Japanese video game developers Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. They are a subsidiary of Sega, who are also the publishers of the game. Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio is best known for games such as ‘Yakuza 0’, ‘Yakuza 6: The Song of Life’ and ‘Binary Domain’.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon Release Date: When And Where Can I Play It?

‘Yakuza: Like a Dragon’ is set to release very soon on January 16, 2020 in Japan, with a Western release expected to follow very soon. At launch, the game will be a PlayStation 4 exclusive. However, I expect we will see the game ported to PC and Xbox One as well sometime later.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon Trailer:

You can watch the trailer for ‘Yakuza: Like a Dragon’ right here.

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