Kazuma Kiryu is a badass and one of my favourite characters in video games, so I was really, really happy to see him come back to take a starring role in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. Sure, Ichiban Kasuga is cool, but come on… it’s Kiryu! The game also happens to be a whole lot of fun to play, and whilst it is guilty of padding out some aspects of its design, it still delivers another gripping experience that lives up to the series’ high standards.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name puts players back into the role of Kazuma Kiryu, who is currently going under the name Joryu (I’m gonna stick to calling him Kiryu in this review) after faking his own death to protect his loved ones at the Morning Glory orphanage. Working with the Daidoji organization (who hold a great deal of power behind the scenes across all avenues of Japan), he ventures through the district of Sotenbori to do their dirty work to maintain his new identity. Of course, it doesn’t take long before things take a sour turn, with an enigmatic figure looking to bring Kiryu back from hiding and out into the limelight – it also ties into the events of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, with the game’s events taking place between Yakuza 6: The Song of Life and the upcoming Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth.
Whilst that might sound like a lot to take in, Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is actually pretty straightforward with its storytelling. The game is a lot shorter than other entries in the series and is quicker paced with its story beats, with it never dragging out plot elements for too long. That’s not to say that it’s not in-depth though, with plenty going on throughout the game to keep players invested in Kiryu’s plight. Besides the many twists and turns you encounter, it also features a colourful cast of characters that bring a perfect mixture of zaniness, humour, and brutality to the experience. And, of course, it’s always a pleasure to play as Kiryu, who once again stands out as a brilliant protagonist who players never have to take TOO seriously despite his fearful demeanour. I feel like you get to see a new side of him in the game, which just makes him all the more likable.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name embraces the action-based combat of past Yakuza titles, with players mashing out combos of deadly attacks as opposed to partaking in turn-based action. Kiryu also has a couple of extra tricks up his sleeve, with his more conventional ‘Yakuza’ fighting style paired with something called ‘Agent’, which sees him using all sorts of gadgets to help out in battle. This includes the Spider which acts as a wire-like lasso to pull in enemies, the Hornet which sees him calling in drones to provide support, and the Serpent which are essentially jet-powered shoes that offer plenty of versatility when getting around. They might sound a little silly, but they’re brilliant to use and give Kiryu’s skills a spy-like vibe that he never had in previous titles. Of course, his ‘Yakuza’ style is equally effective to use, especially in one-versus-one encounters, but who wants to dish out punches and kicks when they can use jet-powered shoes?! It’s fun, and with plenty of cool battles and boss encounters to plough through in the game, combat always stands out as a highlight.
“And, of course, it’s always a pleasure to play as Kiryu, who once again stands out as a brilliant protagonist who players never have to take TOO seriously despite his fearful demeanour.”
Players are able to show off their combat skills in the colosseum, where they’ll partake in battle challenges and even call on the help of allies when taking on multiple foes at once. It’s a great place to show off your fighting skills and refine your capabilities, whilst some of the challenges can offer quite a stern test. Admittedly, there’s a bit of grinding involved and some of the challenges could feel a little uninspired, but the fact that combat is so damn good does mean that it’ll keep players coming back for more.
As expected, there are also plenty of side activities to dive into to keep yourself busy when venturing through Sotenbori. The most worthwhile of these come with the substories, though you don’t find these whilst roaming the streets like in previous titles – instead, they’re given to you in a more organised manner by a character named Akame as part of the Akame Network. They bring with them some unusual requests that certainly don’t adhere to the darker tone found in the main story, but they’re always a treat to complete and offer some worthwhile rewards. They also improve the Akame Network rank, which brings with it additional prizes to purchase.
It is worth noting that these more substantial substories are also joined by some really boring fetch quests that send you across the district, which aren’t especially fun to complete. Normally, that’d be fine and you could ignore them, but progress through Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name can be tied to the Akame Network rank, meaning you’ll have to grind some tasks in order to progress. It felt like pointless padding that dragged out some of the more tedious elements of the game. Maybe it’s done to flesh out the game’s shorter length, but in honesty, I’d have preferred if the game let me stick to its more enjoyable tasks – especially since it can get a little tiring seeing the same sights of the smaller-scaled Sotenbori over and over again on these fetch quests.
Check out some screenshots down below:
At least there are PLENTY of mini-games to dive into for fun, including the likes of darts, golf, karaoke, billiards, mahjong, poker, and a SEGA Master System that brings with it twelve different games to play (including the fan-favourite Alex Kidd in Miracle World), just to name a few. The Cabaret Club dating also brings with it live-action sequences with different hostesses, which I’m sure will appeal to certain gamers…
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name Review
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is shorter than other titles in the series, but still offers another gripping adventure that’s packed with twists and thrills. Kiryu is a real treat to play as thanks to his colourful personality and brutal combat skills (his ‘Agent’ abilities especially stand out this time around), whilst Sotenbori is packed with fun things to do across its mini-games, colosseum, and substories found in the Akame Network.
It is guilty of padding things out with some of its duller fetch quests and the smaller size of the world does get noticeable when you reach the later hours of the game, but there’s still plenty going on to ensure that Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name stands out as another impressive release in the series. It offers an appealing throwback to the series’ action-focused origins and once again proves that Kiryu really is one hell of a badass.
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed),