What parents need to know
In this seventh episode of the Yakuza franchise, Yakuza – Like A Dragon, you play as a new protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga, an ex-yakuza who comes out of prison to realize that he has been abandoned by the clan to which he had sworn loyalty.
Unlike the episodes in the series, Yakuza: Like A Dragon is a role-playing game inspired by classic series like Dragon Quest. The hero, Ichiban, is obsessed with these fantasy games, which explains why he sees each of the confrontations he takes part in as a fight from a fantasy role-playing game.
Accompanied by the characters you meet during your adventures (a homeless man, a retired policeman, a member of the Korean mafia), you will have to face the members of organized crime in Yokohama as well as the members of a conspiracy that threatens the survival of the poorest of the Japanese city.
If the game system differs from previous installments, the rest of the DNA of the Yakuza series is present: the city is full of memorable locals, quirky mini-games to distract you (you’ll have to listen to movies without falling asleep, go shopping to collect empty cans and of course, sing karaoke). And of course, the title is full of typical Japanese humor.
Release date: 16 January 2020
Developed by: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Published by : Sega
Platforms: PC (Windows), Xbox One, Xbox Series, Playstation 4 and Playstation 5
Type of game: Role-playing
Themes: Organized crime
Average duration of a game: 1 hour
Total game lifespan: 45 hours to complete the main story, 100 hours to complete everything
Business model: You have to pay to buy the base game. Several downloadable contents (additional trades, optional costumes) are also sold.
Available languages: French (interface and subtitles only) and English in particular
Number of players:
1 player on the premises
- in digital format (download to console or computer)
- in physical format
Yakuza: Like A Dragon is a game designed to be accessible to everyone. The title offers several levels of difficulty depending on the experience level of the players.
Plus, Yakuza Like A Dragon is a turn-based role-playing game, so you have plenty of time to think about your next action. It’s also possible to train your characters by fighting random enemies if a boss gives you too much trouble, for example.
Violence, fear, nudity?
The game takes place in the world of organized crime, so it is not surprising to see a lot of violence. Throughout the game, you fight in the streets against other criminals and we do not hesitate to show a lot of blood.
If there is no nudity per se, some female characters are presented in a rather sexualized way, and we also deal with topics such as prostitution.
Language level used
As the game takes place in Japan, it is not uncommon for us to be presented with Japanese terms that have no equivalent in English or French.
Characters also sometimes speak with a level of popular language, and some expressions might be harder to recognize.
There is also the use of vulgar words.
Basically, even though he is a fallen member of organized crime, our hero, Ichiban, is a noble person. But the fact remains that the means he uses to achieve his ends are rather violent.
The game also tackles organized crime and politicians with a certain amount of cynicism. The game presents us with a conflict between our group of heroes, mostly from the shadows of Japanese society (Ichiban was raised in a brothel, one of our companions is homeless, another a fairly corrupt policeman) and Bleach Japan, a group that wants to purify Japanese mores but is actually instrumentalized by politicians with dark designs.
In particular, there is a lot of talk about prostitution, but without condemning it. This is an important debate, but one that does not suit the youngest.
Minimum reading level required
You will need to read a lot of text to progress in Yakuza: Like A Dragon, even more so if you do not speak English (or Japanese), since the audio is not available in French.
Not only is the story and dialogue a big part of the appeal of the Yakuza series, but since this episode is a turn-based role-playing game, you’ll also need to read to understand the different attacks that are part of your arsenal.
Additional costs ?
One could forgive the sale of costumes that are after all purely aesthetic, but it is a shame that some additional trades, which add a lot to the game, are sold separately.
That being said, Yakuza: Like A Dragon offers a lot of content in the base game.
Minimum level of execution on the controller required
Yakuza: Like A Dragon is a turn-based role-playing game, so you have plenty of time to choose your actions, which are accomplished at the touch of a button.
That being said, some attacks require you to press buttons quickly or with a particular timing to do more damage, which can be an additional challenge.
Optional mini-games, on the other hand, require a higher level of controller execution, but they can be largely ignored, with a few exceptions.
Local game mode
The main mode is the story mode, which offers you to live the adventure of Ichiban and his companions. You can also play the mini-games directly, as well as play games of Pachinko, a Japanese game that resembles slot machines.
Online game mode
Yakuza: Like A Dragon is a game full of humor, creativity and heart. The particular tone and motley mini-games of the title will not reach everyone; But generally, those who become fans of the series become very, very fans of the series (at least this is the case of the author of these lines).
The turn-based game system, surprising for a franchise like Yakuza, is successful, and we can see the developers’ love for role-playing games of the 80s and 90s. We particularly like the job system, which allows us to unlock new abilities in combat depending on the job our companions have managed to get at the employment office. It is a very literal transposition of the “job” system found in Final Fantasy.
That being said, the themes of Yakuza: Like A Dragon are not suitable for all audiences. It talks about organized crime, drugs, prostitution and other sex work. These themes are approached with nuance, but they are still not suitable for a young audience.
But for an informed audience, Yakuza: Like A Dragon is worth checking out, especially since you can find quite affordable copies these days.
More information about the game: Official game page