I don’t think I’ve seen any other video game series that has managed to get so much better with each new entry as successfully as Like a Dragon (formerly known as Yakuza) has, but Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth really feels like a culmination of everything that Ryu ga Gotoku Studios has achieved so far. It’s bigger than anything that has come before it, the narrative has more emotional stakes, there are more activities to complete than ever, and the combat is more dynamic and strategic than before. And the best part of all? It’s simply brilliant to play.
Check out some screenshots down below:
As you’d probably expect, you’re going to get a LOT more out of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth’s narrative if you’re a veteran of the series, or at least played through the last few entries. With that in mind, I’ll put things into a bit of a nutshell here, if only to avoid spoilers for previous games. The story focuses on Ichiban Kasuga and his plight to find his mother, who was assumed to be deceased but is actually living in Hawaii. This means that you’re going to get a change of scenery with the bulk of the game taking place within Honolulu, but there’s a catch: it turns out that Kasuga’s mother has a LOT of interest in her from not only an array of criminal organisations, but also Kazuma Kiryu (who is working on behalf of the Daidoji Faction). Fortunately, Kiryu is on your side, but both will face a battle as they look to protect Kasuga’s mother and get to the bottom of the mystery that she is involved in.
Of course, there’s a lot more going on along the way, with players wrapping themselves up in a plot that grows bigger in scale as you progress. It isn’t just Kasuga who’s facing an emotional plight either, with Kiryu suffering from terminal cancer and dealing with the fact that his time is slowly coming to an end – this is fully embraced with flashback sequences that emphasise just how wonderful of a character he really is. And, of course, there’s plenty of wacky stuff to get into too, with Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth not bucking the trend of its predecessors with its silliness. Most importantly, though? The narrative is excellent, with the brilliant writing keeping players invested in each character, the engaging pacing keeping the story pushing forward, and constant surprises ensuring you’ll be hooked in right from the very start.
What complements the narrative is the enthralling world that’s absolutely packed with things to do and discover. Not only does Honolulu look gorgeous with its vivid imagery and cheery sights, but it also brings with it some wonderful activities to complete that really flesh out the world. I mean, come on, it couldn’t be a Like a Dragon game without fun minigames to dive into, right? Well, you’ve got the likes of Karaoke, Darts, Arcades with classic SEGA titles (including Virtua Fighter 3tb which is one of my favourite fighters), Fishing, and more, which are the sort of things players might’ve done in previous titles in the series. There are also all-new inclusions this time around, with the likes of Crazy Delivery adding a Crazy Taxi-style spin to food deliveries, DonDoko Island which sees players restoring an island into a marvellous resort, and Miss Match which tests just how suave Kasuga is at chatting up some ladies. Each adds a brilliant (and often outrageous) new way to experience the wild world of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, and honestly, you’ll probably find yourself spending more time simply having fun with its side activities that you do progressing through the story. I haven’t listed everything you’ll come across because it’s best to keep some as surprises, but believe me, the depth of the activities you complete is outrageous – especially if you enjoyed the Sujimon from the previous game…
“It is long though, so expect to EASILY break through the sixty-hour mark and more if you want to see everything it has to offer – but hey, when a game is THIS good, you won’t want it to end.”
Outside of the activities, you’ll spend a whole lot of time fighting in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. Again, it embraces a turn-based combat system, with an emphasis placed on giving the different members of your party jobs to fine-tune their skillset. Some of these jobs are exclusive to specific characters and some have to be unlocked as you progress, but they each offer an element of strategy to combat that’ll see you focusing on utilising the diverse skills that span across them to overcome your foe. They develop as you progress too, so you’re always expanding your repertoire of abilities to deal with the growing threats that the game sends your way. And, as expected, some are really silly to see in battle, whilst new jobs like the Desperado, Geodancer, Samurai, and Aquanut give returning players something fresh to play around with.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth also refines the turn-based action in a variety of ways, with an emphasis placed on character position. Players can now move their characters around during turns, allowing them to get an advantage by attacking from behind, lining up attacks to utilise the environment to their advantage, or even better position area-of-effect attacks. Have an ally with a strong connection to the current character nearby? Move towards them and use a co-op attack, which gives your action an extra boost of damage in one turn. The freedom of movement makes combat more dynamic and adds an additional layer of strategy to each encounter, with enemies that are technically stronger than you able to be defeated by simply using your position and surroundings to your advantage. And if the enemy is significantly weaker? You can use the Smackdown ability to automatically defeat them at the expense of some of the experience points you would have earned.
Whilst the core of combat remains the same, the refinements go a long way in ensuring it feels more engrossing and gives players plenty to think about in each showdown. Every encounter is exciting and strategic, whilst your actions outside of combat can genuinely affect how a battle plays out – especially when building relationships up between your party. This is prominent in the Drink Links, which see members of your party confiding in Kiryu or Kasuga to form a bond, which then makes them more effective with team attacks in combat. It took me a while to get sold on the change to turn-based battling in the series initially, but everything has been so refined to perfection now that I’d find it hard to go back.
Check out some screenshots down below:
The problem with reviewing Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is that it’s so damn big that it’s hard to cover everything – at the same time, I don’t want to say too much, because a lot of it is better to simply come across yourself. There’s so much I haven’t touched upon in this review, whether it’s the extent of the activities you complete, the locales you get to visit (things take an interesting turn later in the game), or the secrets you encounter across the world, whilst I haven’t even mentioned the sub-stories which, once again, are absolutely wonderful to unravel. New ideas are constantly being introduced even as you hit thirty-hour plus mark, with the game full of surprises that’ll keep a big smile on your face. It has fine-tuned almost every aspect that players would’ve seen in the series so far to perfection, but STILL manages to introduce surprises that ensure it hasn’t lost that special spark.
It’s just a really phenomenal experience that takes everything that has kept players enthralled with the series over the last few years and really upped the ante. The only real flaw is that it can be a little bit guilty of getting a grindy in places, but again, it’s so expertly executed that it doesn’t feel like problem. It is long though, so expect to EASILY break through the sixty-hour mark and more if you want to see everything it has to offer – but hey, when a game is THIS good, you won’t want it to end.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is the best entry in the series, with it fine-tuning the formula of the previous games to perfection. Combat is more dynamic and strategic than before, the narrative will hook you in with its effective pacing and emotional beats, the world is beautiful and packed with surprises, whilst the side-tasks and sub-quests are more engaging than ever thanks to their fun (and often wacky) tasks. It’s simply phenomenal and should DEFINITELY be kept in mind when Game of the Year conversations start later this year.
Developer: Ryu ga Gotoku Studios
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One