Which Yakuza/Like a Dragon game to choose on Playstation, Xbox and PC?

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The Yakuza franchise began in 2005, giving life to about twenty episodes in this 18-year period and becoming one of Sega’s flagship franchises.

Usually putting us in the shoes of a character who evolves in the dark recesses of Japanese society, the franchise offers a mix of thrilling crime dramas, dynamic fights and completely exploded mini-games, ranging from fishing to running courtesan bars, to the essential karaoke.

But between 7 games in the main series, a host of spin-offs, games that use the same characters but tell real historical episodes and Remakes in abundance, not to mention a change of name of the franchise while in 2022, we decided to abandon the name Yakuza in the West to rather use Like A Dragon as in Japan, there is enough to get lost for a neophyte who wants to learn about the series.

We suggest some games where it is possible to start.

Yakuza 0

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Even if it is not the first game released chronologically in the franchise, Yakuza 0, as a prequel, is nevertheless the starting point of the entire franchise.

It follows the story of Kazuma Kiryu, a very young recruit of the Yakuza (the Japanese mafia) as we try to attribute to him a murder he did not commit. He must then leave the Yakuza to save the honor of his adoptive father, and uncover a vast conspiracy around a small plot of land in the heart of Tokyo that is worth a fortune.

We also play Goro Majima, a recurring antihero of the franchise, and the favorite character of a good number of fans of the series.

Set in the 80s, Yakuza 0 presents us with a flashy Japan, then at the top of a financial bubble that would burst a few years later. Money literally rains down the streets, and that money attracts characters with vile intentions.

Originally released in 2015 in Japan on Playstation 3 and 4 (and in 2017 in the West), we will not lie; The title has taken some wrinkles, especially in terms of its cinematics. But the counterpart of that is that you can regularly get this title for a real bite of bread.

And it’s a title not to be missed. Yakuza 0 exploded the popularity of the franchise in the West, and with good reason; It’s a great title that showcases the best the franchise has to offer, with its uplifting story, charismatic characters, and burst sense of humor.

30 hours to finish the story. 141 hours to complete everything

Available on PC, Playstation 4 (Playstation 5 compatible) and Xbox One (Xbox Series S/X compatible)

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

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At the end of Yakuza 6, Kazuma Kiryu, the protagonist of the franchise until then, bowed out as the flagship character of the franchise (how, we let you find out).

Yakuza: Like a Dragon was meant to be a revival for the franchise. We follow a new protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga, in a city previously unexplored by the series, Yokohama.

Upon his release from prison, Ichiban, a soft-hearted Yakuza, is abandoned by his criminal family. By trying to understand the reasons for this abandonment, Ichiban will discover a vast criminal conspiracy that also involves powerful political figures…

Yakuza: Like a Dragon not only offers us a new protagonist, but a completely new game system. The usual combat system is replaced by a turn-based role-playing system. Ichiban has a fertile imagination, and as a die-hard fan of the Dragon Quest franchise, he likes to imagine that he is some kind of knight who takes on villains.

There are of course references to previous episodes, with characters from the franchise making their return, but newcomers will not be too left behind by this episode which is a renewal of the franchise.

To learn more, read our review.

45 hours to finish the story. 108 hours to complete everything

Available on Playstation 4 and 5, PC and Xbox One and Series S/X


Judgment Image 3 Share Screen

You want to try the franchise, but not necessarily embark on an epic in 8 episodes (and that still continues!)?

Judgment is the answer to your prayers.

In this spin-off, you play as Takayuki Yagami (Tak for the intimates), a former lawyer who has recycled himself as a private detective after a painful episode. You’re hired to investigate a serial killer who murders yakuza, and obviously, you’re exposing a conspiracy (there are always conspiracies in this franchise).

Judgment largely takes over the game system of the first episodes of the franchise, but adds phases of stealth and espionage. After all, you are a private investigator.

Extremely well received, Judgment was entitled to a sequel, Lost Judgment, while Tak must go to Yokohama to investigate and reveal, you guessed it, a vast conspiracy.

The story of Judgment and its sequel is rather independent of the main franchise, so you can settle for playing both episodes of the subseries if you are not yet ready to fully invest in the Yakuza series.

27 hours to complete the story of Judgment. 100 hours to complete everything.

A similar lifespan for Lost Judgment.

Available on Playstation 4 and 5, Xbox Series S/X and PC

Like A Dragon Ishin!

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Like A Dragon Ishin! is a special case; It is a spin-off of the franchise, where the characters of the franchise embody the role of real historical characters.

Thus, Kazuma Kiryu “plays the role” of Sakamoto Ryōma, a famous samurai in Japan who played an important role in the creation of modern government following the encounter with the West while Goro Majima “plays” Okita Soji, a member of the Shogunate’s police force.

As this is a fictionalized version of a true historical episode, it is not essential to have played the other episodes of the series to understand Like A Dragon Ishin! But one of the pleasures of this spin-off is precisely to discover which roles embody our favorite characters, pleasure that will be lost if this is the first episode we try.

To learn more, read our review.

23 hours to finish the story. 132 hours to complete everything

Available on Xbox One and Series S/X, Playstation 4 and 5, PC

And what about Kiwami?

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Two titles in the franchise bear the subtitle of Kiwami, namely Yakuza Kiwami 1 and 2.

These are Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC remakes of the first two episodes of the series originally released on Playstation 2. These remakes, in addition to improving the visuals, added a lot of content from the games that came later, such as the famous karaoke mini-game, in addition to an improved combat system.

Kiwami 1 is a good starting point for those who would like to learn about the franchise, since it is a remake of the very first game, but we would still suggest you start with Yakuza 0 to get to know the characters better.

Each game lasts 18 hours to complete the story.

Available on Xbox One and Series S/X, Playstation 4 and 5, PC

Yakuza 1,2,3,4,5,6

The 6 games follow the continuation of Kiryu’s adventure after Yakuza 0.

They all contain the same structure, the same type of environments and the same types of play phases:

  • exploring in cities, dojos in Japan
  • Fighting mainly in the streets and in buildings
  • dialogues, cinematic scenes
  • Optional mini-games to change the pace of the game a bit.

Each of these games lasts about 18 hours to complete their story.

Yakuza 1 and 2 are only available in their improved version now: Yakuza Kiwami 1 and Yakuza Kiwami 2.

Available on Xbox One and Series S/X, Playstation 4 and 5, PC

Featured image credits: Montage made by Split Screen from the characters and logo of the Yakuza series belonging to SEGA.

Other image credits: promotional material from SEGA-owned games in the Yakuza series.