Yakuza: Like A Dragon Review – The Power Of Friendship

After the conclusion of the series’ previous anthology with Yakuza 6, there were big Kiryu-sized shoes to fill. As our new protagonist Kasuga Ichiban steps into the spotlight for Yakuza: Like a Dragon, developer RGG Studio proves it can still capture its signature blend of gripping melodrama and absurdist humor while creating something genuinely fresh for the long-running franchise. The reinvention isn’t just in the transition from action-brawler to turn-based combat, which is a great take on traditional RPG battles. It’s that the party dynamic in Like a Dragon enables a new kind of storytelling that the series hasn’t explored before, one that focuses on the power of embracing friendship and fighting together every step of the way.

Like a Dragon starts anew, providing an entry point for those who have never played a Yakuza game before. But it wouldn’t be a proper series entry without the core tenets that define Yakuza–things like captivating exposition-heavy cutscenes, exciting over-the-top fights, and a wealth of side activities that flood the streets of a lifelike Japanese city. In true Yakuza fashion, the tangled web of alliances, betrayals, secrets, and shifts in power across different organizations serve as the foundation for much of its character-driven story. And it’s as sweet as ever here.

Kasuga, Number One

Ichiban has a familiar background: born from nothing, scraping by in Kamurocho until a father figure with yakuza ties digs him out of serious trouble. Ichiban’s life revolves around that man, Masumi Arakawa, and he eventually follows in his footsteps by pledging himself to the Tojo Clan. Much of what propels Like a Dragon is the connection these two share–from Ichiban taking the fall for a family crime to uncovering why he’d been left for dead in another city after his 18-year prison sentence. Things change in time, and that good-natured kid who grew up loving Dragon Quest (literally in-lore) and doing harmless errands for the gang now has a lot to learn about the criminal underworld as he re-enters society.

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