Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth PS5 Review: An Epic Yakuza Love Letter
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, the follow-up to 2020s Like a Dragon and 2023s Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, has a lot riding on it. It’s not just the sequel to a critically acclaimed game that reinvented the Yakuza namesake but also a culmination of the entire Yakuza franchise and a swansong love letter to its iconic protagonist, Kiryu. As such, one would expect it to either buckle under the weight of expectations or rise to the occasion. Fortunately, it’s the latter, as Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth truly feels like not just one of the best games in the entire franchise but a truly genre-defining experience that combines the styles of the Yakuza franchise and the Like a Dragon spin-off to culminate in a sprawling odyssey full of heart and shenanigans.
“To say there is more to Infinite Wealth’s story is an understatement.”
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth takes place after the events of Like a Dragon Gaiden, with Ichiban Kasuga beginning as the sole protagonist. Saeko and Kasuga are still not in a relationship, and you’re going to have to go through a dating simulator prologue with your friends Namba and Adachi to win Sa-chan’s heart. Ultimately, this begins the narrative and sets in motion the events of the entire story.
After the great dissolution in Like a Dragon Gaiden, the Seiryu Clan has taken over and are rising to be a worrying force of power across Japan. Jo Sawashiro, a member of the Seiryu Clan and the former caption of the Arakawa family, informs Ichiban about the story of his parents and, more specifically, that his mother is still alive and in Hawaii. The next thing you know, you’re in Hawaii, but, as always, things don’t go as planned, and Ichiban runs into some danger. Fortunately, the legendary Dragon of Dojima Kazuma Kiryu is there to bail him out, and the duo realize they share the same mission: locating Ichiban’s mother. Unfortunately, locating Ichiban’s mother isn’t the simplest of tasks, and to make matters worse, Kiryu has cancer.
To say there is more to Infinite Wealth’s story is an understatement, as the game deftly weaves between the high-octane antics of Ichiban’s storyline and the emotional rollercoaster of Kiryu’s nostalgic Bucket List. It’s a gorgeously written, oftentimes hilarious, and beautifully somber experience, one befitting of the Yakuza legacy. Unfortunately, if you haven’t played a game in the series, you’ll feel extremely left out, especially in the latter half when Kiryu reminisces on his previous escapades. There’s not much here for a newcomer, as even those who haven’t played the first Like a Dragon game will lack the emotional impact garnered from the game’s eccentric cast of characters.
“In Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, the job system makes a triumphant return.”
In terms of combat, if you have played Like a Dragon, then you’ll feel right at home with Infinite Wealth’s turn-based action. It’s built upon an incredibly solid foundation and further heightened by the flashy animations and complexity of its customization options. From the varied job system to the introduction of free-form movement during your turn, which allows for greater environment interaction, there’s a newfound layer of depth in Infinite Wealth’s combat. Hardcore Yakuza fans will likely feel more at ease with Infinite Wealth’s interpretation of turn-based combat, especially with Kiryu’s ultimate ability allowing him to return to his live-action brawler style. Plus, RPG fans will appreciate the many innovations it brings to the table.
In Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, the job system makes a triumphant return, requiring players to purchase Hawaii island tours to unlock new jobs, then build bonds with characters to increase their level so they can activate the job. While this may sound confusing, it’s a surprisingly straightforward process, and there are plenty of unique jobs for your characters to utilize. Each character possesses an exclusive job, such as a Kasuga’s Hero and Kiryu’s Dragon of Dojima, and has the ability to switch to any unlocked gender-based job, like an Aquanaught or Night Queen. Luckily, every job offers a unique experience, and as characters level up across multiple jobs, the ability to merge attacks enhances the depth of the combat system.
Much like Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Infinite Wealth boasts an impressively diverse array of enemies. You will face some seriously weird creeps and bosses, including, but not limited to, excavators, giant vacuum cleaners, and oversized sea creatures. While stereotypical tough guys remain a fixture in battles, the game offers an expansive selection of over 300 different enemies. Furthermore, defeating these enemies isn’t the end; instead, you have the unique ability to capture and incorporate enemies into your Sujimon party.
“Dondoko Island stands as an expansive feature and could easily qualify as a standalone game.”
Sujimon draws undeniable parallels with Pokemon but with a distinctive emphasis on dark humor. This concept involves defeating enemies in battle, which might provide you the opportunity to present them with a gift to essentially “catch” them. However, dismissing this as a small minigame would be a misconception, as it serves as a key pillar in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. You can engage in a lengthy sub-quest, battle “wild” trainers, collect 150 different Sujimon, and earn 5 badges to achieve the coveted title of Sujimon Master. The entire quest is highly enjoyable and is enhanced by providing an exclusive job for Ichiban that leverages his Sujimon in combat. In terms of overall content, only Dondoko Island matches the level of depth available.
Dondoko Island stands as an expansive feature and could easily qualify as a standalone game. It introduces a distinct control scheme reminiscent of the brawler style seen in previous Yakuza games and utilizes gameplay akin to Animal Crossing. Serving as a tropical paradise off the coast of Hawaii, you must engage in activities, such as fishing and critter-catching, to return a dying resort to its former glory. You can invite iconic guests from previous games to the island and complete daily quests to enhance its reputation.
While this mode is intricately woven into the narrative with a short tutorial, Dondoko Island remains entirely optional. Fans of cozy games are likely to get caught up in its highly addictive nature, and it might even be an entire reason to purchase the game. There is an incredible amount of content available in Dondoko Island, in a game that’s almost already bursting at the seams.
“The late-game grind in Infinite Wealth can be tedious.”
Of course, no Yakuza game is complete without a plethora of side content and a jam-packed environment, and Infinite Wealth has this in spades. Yokohama and Kamarucho continue as highlights, with the incredulously detailed streets providing an abundance of engrossing mini-games, including Karaoke (as no Yakuza game can be complete without Karaoke). Hawaii is a welcome addition to the slate of picturesque locations and feels just as detailed and lifelike as Yakuza’s well-trodden haunts. There’s a good amount of content to get through in all three locations, especially as there are over 50 extravagant, over-the-top side quests to complete, which will lock you down for hours on end.
For some, the entire experience won’t be perfect. The late-game grind in Infinite Wealth can be tedious, especially for players who are looking to streamline the game as much as possible. However, to stand a chance against the final bosses, as there are minor healing opportunities and enhanced difficulty, you may find yourself compelled to complete the majority of the side content to stand any chance.
Furthermore, as previously mentioned, the emotional depth of the narrative is set at a high bar, especially in the latter half of the game. Infinite Wealth effectively introduces particular characters that have had a significant impact on Kazuma’s life, and if you don’t know who these characters are, you are missing some crucial context. Therefore, to fully grasp the emotional reach, playing the previous games is almost a prerequisite.
“It is a love letter to everything Yakuza.”
Nevertheless, it’s staggeringly impressive just how much has been packed into one game, with each mode, mini-game, and quest feeling fleshed out and worthwhile. You could get Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth for just the rather excellent Dondoko Island mode or even the returning Sujimon and feel as if you’d had a genuinely enjoyable experience. It is incredible, then, that all of this comes packaged with complex combat and a suitably mature narrative that ties together the Yakuza storyline in a satisfying way.
It is clear that Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth has been made with such reverence for the series, the characters, and the fans, and it feels like the ultimate culmination of everything you’ve come to know and love about the franchise. This is a love letter to everything Yakuza, an undeniably unforgettable experience, and a must-play for diehard fans.
Disclosure: Game Crater was provided the game for this review.Some links provided in this article are affiliate links. Game Crater will be paid a commission if you use these links to make a purchase.
Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth successfully rises to the challenge of being the magnum opus of the Yakuza franchise. Its engaging narrative, complex combat system, and abundance of content, including optional options like Dondoko Island and Sujimon, contribute to a rich and varied gaming experience. However, the potential for a tedious late-game grind and the reliance on prior Yakuza knowledge may pose challenges for some players. Despite these drawbacks, the game stands as a love letter to the Yakuza series, offering an undeniably unforgettable experience that is a must-play for diehard fans.