Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Top Critic Average
Like A Dragon pulls off an impressive JRPG makeover while simultaneously taking on all the flaws of the genre.
A fun, charming, and occasionally brilliant Yakuza game, let down by an overabundance of repetitive turn-based battles.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon takes some bold steps in a new direction for the series but neglects to maintain its balance.
The turn-based battles don't fully convince but the new protagonist and bizarre mini-games still feel distinctively and entertainingly Yakuza.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon impressively pulls off the switch to an RPG in style, providing an excellent combat system supported by loveable characters, and a tantalising main storyline with meaningful side quests.
It's a new direction for the series, but Like a Dragon captures the essence of what came before while setting out on its own journey.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon's cast of misfits makes the wild RPG combat, absurd humor, and dramatic storytelling soar.
Like a Dragon's story attempts to touch on certain social issues that are relevant in present-day Japan, such as classism, social status, sex work, and government corruption on a prefectural level. However, the writing often lacks the nuance or range to address the topics at hand, and doesn't give any of them adequate room to breathe. The second half of the game gains some measure of focus as plot threads tie together and result in genuinely surprising twists, but when Like a Dragon drops the ball, it drops it hard. Despite this, the Japanese cast's performances sell the story with evocative deliveries that breathe life into the characters. The finale is an emotional one that brought me to tears and moved me, just as most previous Yakuza games have.
I absolutely loved my time with Like a Dragon. Ichiban was just too charming, Isezaki Ijincho too interesting and its story too irresistible (in its own pulpy way), proving once again that the strength of Yakuza’s heart can easily overcome any of its gameplay shortcomings. Every time I got mad at its RPG failings, I couldn’t stay mad, because every time I got frustrated at the grind Ichiban would do something beautiful, or I’d fight a man holding a giant smoked turkey leg.