Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name PS5 Review
Yakuza is a popular franchise that has been running for almost twenty years, with Kazuma Kiryu at the heart of it. While Yakuza: Like A Dragon strayed away from him as a protagonist, Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name shines a light on the former legendary yakuza, bringing him front and center one final time.
After the end of Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, Kiryu faked his death to protect those closest to him, and Like a Dragon Gaiden bridges the gap between these events and Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Kiryu, under the codename of Joryu to protect his identity, takes a job as a bodyguard before being targeted by an attack from mysterious individuals who caught wind of a rumor that he was still alive. Naturally, this transcends into the typical Yakuza storyline with twists and turns and many situations being solved with a good old-fashioned brawl. As expected, the narrative is great and pitches Kiryu as charming and badass as ever, with the supporting cast being equally impressive.
“Agent style does make the gameplay loop relatively repetitive.”
The combat in Like a Dragon Gaiden is a blast, and with it being a central focus of the game, it needs to be. Kiryu has a wide range of moves at his disposal, and you can switch styles between Yakuza and Agent. The combat feels fluid and responsive, with the Yakuza style feeling as emphatic as ever.
On the other hand, Agent Style trades muscle for gadgets and allows you to use explosive cigarettes, drones, a wire, and rocket shoes to take on the enemy. Both styles have their strengths and weaknesses, and switching between them mid-fight provides you with plenty of coverage against any foe.
Unfortunately, the agent style does make the gameplay loop relatively repetitive due to how powerful it is. The rocket shoes, known as the Serpent, allow you to essentially bowl through multiple enemies, which, while incredibly satisfying, does remove any elements of difficulty from combat. This is amplified when you increase your skills as you only become more powerful, dealing increasing amounts of damage to everyone who gets in your way.
“There are no real unorthodox opponents in Like A Dragon Gaiden compared to previous titles, which is a letdown.”
There are heaps of Abilities to unlock in Like A Dragon Gaiden, and these are split into four categories: Stats, Shared Abilities, Agent, and Yakuza. Each category is pretty self-explanatory, with Stats Skills focusing on increasing Health, Damage, and Heat (Special Bar) and Shared Abilities affecting both styles: Agent and Yakuza. Naturally, there are better or more beneficial skills to learn than others, but every upgrade in Like A Dragon feels substantial and well-balanced, so there’s no need to overthink what Abilities must be purchased before others.
Enemy variety in Like a Dragon Gaiden is pretty straightforward. There are no real unorthodox opponents in the game compared to previous titles, which is a letdown. It is mainly made up of street thugs and yakuza, with the occasional special boss fight here or there, but none feel quite as iconic as the battles in previous games.
“The Coliseum is arguably one of the most enjoyable experiences about Like A Dragon Gaiden.”
In addition to the main story, Like a Dragon Gaiden is jam-packed with side content to explore. The game is set in Sotonbori, an almost lifelike replica of the Dotonbori area in Osaka. While this map does feel quite small, and I would have preferred to explore a slightly larger map, there is a decent amount of additional content to keep players busy.
The Akame Network is the system that essentially tracks side quests or substories as they are known in the game. This Network is run by Akame, and completing her requests or the requests of others in the town of Sotonbori earns you Akame Points which are needed to level up skills, alongside money or Yen.
Some of these requests range from helping a teenager out with dating advice and stopping him from jumping into the river to fetching a ball in a tree. While some of these quests are unique, others are just tedious fetch quests, so you’re likely to get bored quite quickly.
Fortunately, there is a saving grace as completing quests and earning Akame Points will level you up in the Network, which unlocks exclusive content. One of the main benefits is a substory plot where you get to know Akame better, and she confides in you over drinks. Of course, the other advantage is improving your rank in the Coliseum.
“There isn’t much on offer that hasn’t already been provided in other games.”
The Coliseum is arguably one of the most enjoyable experiences about Like A Dragon Gaiden. Essentially, it’s just different brawls with tough enemies across various game modes, such as Tournament and Hell Team Rumble. The former puts you in tense situations where you must defeat consecutive opponents without healing. These matches are always fun, and sometimes, you can compete in special matches with unique weapons that are made solely for you to dominate the match. However, this doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
Hell Team Rumble is the most satisfying mode as it puts you in a battle royale, where you must eliminate the other team within the time limit. You manage your own team, which you must recruit and level up members in order to compete. There are a few interesting characters here or there, but nowhere near the levels of what you can expect in Like A Dragon. The Coliseum also involves its own substory where you must defeat the Four Kings, a fitting name for those running The Castle.
“There is something for everyone to enjoy in Like a Dragon Gaiden.”
If you get bored of completing requests for Akame or competing at the Coliseum, you can try out heaps of traditional mini-games like Mahjong, Shoji, Koi-koi, Oicho-Kabu, Poker, and Blackjack. Furthermore, if you want to play something a bit more exhilarating, you switch to arcade games, like Sonic the Fighters or UFO Catcher, or build your own car in Pocket Circuit and try to win against the other racers in a frustrating yet satisfying auto racer. While these are all great games that certainly provide hours of entertainment, there isn’t much on offer that hasn’t already been provided in other games, except, of course, the FMV Cabaret Club.
The “Immersive” Cabaret Club is one of the elements that turned many heads when the trailer was originally released. It essentially puts players in a position where they must build relationships with a full-motion video of a woman. As you talk more with the women and select the correct answers, you grow a relationship and earn yourself an exclusive video at the end. It doesn’t offer anything too wild, and there is no nudity or anything too NSFW. It’s an interesting novelty game, but, ultimately, it doesn’t replace the experience of running a Cabaret Club from the previous titles.
All in all, outside of the main narrative, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Like a Dragon Gaiden. However, there has been better side content in previous titles, with batting cages seemingly missing from this game.
“It provides the iconic Kiryu Kazuma with a fitting conclusion to his story.”
Accessibility is also at the forefront, with multiple options to customize the game, from audio and visual enhancements to helpful messages prompting dropping difficulty when you die. Like a Dragon Gaiden’s accommodating settings allow everyone to enjoy themselves without jeopardising the gameplay or storyline.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is priced lower than the standard price we have come to expect from games, so it’s definitely worth checking out. There is enough content here to satisfy most gamers, but it’s nowhere near most of the previous games in the series.
Ultimately, Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is a good game that offers a satisfying experience for both veterans and newcomers to the series. It provides the iconic Kiryu Kazuma with a fitting conclusion to his story and sets the foundation for the next game.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PS5; code was provided by publisher.
Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name Review
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name brings Kiryu back as the protagonist for one final show and offers engaging combat with two different styles for players to choose from. It features a variety of skills, a smaller enemy pool, heaps of side content, and an engaging Coliseum mode. While the game has many mini-games, it doesn't introduce much new content besides the "Immersive" Cabaret Club experience, which isn’t anything too exciting. Ultimately, Like A Dragon Gaiden is a satisfying conclusion to Kiryu Kazuma and sets the foundation for the next game.