Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name

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Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name (Xbox Series X) – Review

The Yakuza series is one of SEGA’s premiere franchises developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, which began all the way back in 2005 on PlayStation 2. Now rebranded as Like a Dragon, which is also the English translation of its Japanese name, Ryū ga Gotoku, the series has seen a slow but well-deserved rise in popularity outside of Japan thanks to its remakes and remasters of older games, allowing new fans to enjoy them on modern consoles.

The story of the main protagonist, Kazuma Kiryu, had seemingly reached its epic conclusion in 2016’s Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, with Kiryu having faked his death to keep his loved ones safe, while still watching over them from afar. He made a cameo appearance in 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon, aka Yakuza 7, under an alias, so he is still believed to be dead. He has been through hell and back in the series’ 18-year history, but his story isn’t over yet, as the Dragon of Dojima makes his triumphant return in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, available November 9th on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4|5 and PC.

The story takes place during the events of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, but from the perspective of Kazuma Kiryu. After faking his death, Kiryu now works as a secret agent with the Daidoji faction under his codename, Joryu. One night on what was believed to be a simple mission, things suddenly turn south, and one of the attackers comes face to face with Kiryu, recognising him, and the word quickly spreads that Kazuma Kiryu is still alive. After being dragged into a new conflict, Kiryu must work with the Daidoji to take down the Omi Alliance, keep his identity a secret, and most importantly, protect the lives of the children he helped raise in Okinawa.

The ending of Yakuza 6: The Song of Life would’ve been the perfect conclusion and proper send-off for the Dragon of Dojima. The latest story, focusing on the legendary Kazuma Kiryu, is full of twists and turns, highs and lows, deceit, betrayal, and more. The latest game in the franchise gives players a deep dive into the latest of Kiryu’s arc, while also introducing a whole cast of new characters, who all leave a lasting impression and won’t be forgotten anytime soon. The Like a Dragon series has always gone above and beyond with their storytelling, and the latest game is no different. Longtime fans will be on the edge of their seats on one hell of an emotional rollercoaster to see what happens next.

In the 2020 game, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, the franchise went in a whole new direction. Not only did it introduce a brand new protagonist with Ichiban Kasuga, but it also completely changed the genre, going from an action-adventure beat ‘em up, to a turn-based strategy format. The spinoff series set in the same world, Judgment, carried on the beat ‘em up genre, and fans will be happy to know that Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name goes back to its beat ‘em up roots.

Working as a secret agent, Kiryu has learnt a ton of new moves and comes equipped with some fancy gadgets, known as Agent Style. His watch can shoot out wires to entangle enemies, throw them, disarm them, and even grab items that are out of reach, very similar to Spider-Man’s web shooters. He also has exploding cigarettes to take out a group of enemies, and special shoes that can propel him forward to plough through enemies. His Agent Style is best suited for taking on hordes of enemies, but his Yakuza Style takes him back to his brawling roots, which longtime fans will appreciate, and is best suited for one-on-one battles, especially the epic boss battles the series is known for.

Many weapons are also back and available at the players’ disposal, from traffic cones, chairs, and bicycles, to swords, guns and more, all adding to the mayhem on screen, with entertaining mini-cutscenes showing Kiryu smashing them into everyone’s faces. The only drawback is that the camera still occasionally disrupts the player’s view of the action. The turn-based strategy format is definitely fun, but the beat ‘em up just feels so good giving more control over the bare-knuckle, bone-crunching, and face-smashing action.

The Sontenbori district of Osaka is the primary setting, which has been seen in various games and offers plenty to do, with a variety of restaurants, bars, various stores, and plenty of venues with different activities. Thugs, gangs, and Yakuza are always roaming the streets, so Kiryu will have plenty of opportunities to get his hands dirty, which also helps with boosting stats to help with learning new moves, getting extra health, increasing the heat meter, and other little things that will help aide you in battle. Yokohama is also featured, but only a small part of it, and unfortunately, Kamurocho in Tokyo isn’t included at all, but it makes sense for story purposes.

Every game in the series has always included a wide selection of mini-games and activities to play around with, and Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name brings back a lot of old favourites, as well as some new ones. Visiting arcades, players can try their luck on the claw machines to win plushies, or they can play any of the game systems, including Virtua Fighter 2, Sonic the Fighters, and Fighting Vipers 2.

In one of the hideouts, there’s even a SEGA Master System to play various classics that are lying about, with even more that can collected. There’s also pool, darts, golf, boardgames, gambling, and even Pocket Circuit is finally back for players to customise and race their RC cars on a small track and compete in competitions. Sadly, there is no batting cage this time, but Karaoke is also back with various songs, including everyone’s favourite, ‘Baka Mitai’.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Like a Dragon game without the cabaret clubs, picking a hostess, buying them drinks, and flirting with them. There are a few to choose from, and each comes with a different selection of gorgeous ladies to keep you company. This time though, instead of a 3D in-game model sitting next to the protagonist, real-life actresses now portray the hostesses in pre-recorded cutscenes, depending on which actions you choose. It’s a big change and a whole new experience seeing and interacting with them from a first-person perspective and seeing their reactions. It’s very entertaining and a nice way to wind down from the hectic main story, but it’s probably best played privately.

One of the new characters introduced is Akame, best described as a jack of all trades. She has her own hideout and helps Kiryu in his missions. This also introduces the Akame Network, which provides a long list of optional side quests to complete, but all help build up the network’s reputation, which, in turn, provides Kiryu with more things to help boost his stats. The side missions include completing various tasks for people, beating up thugs who are causing trouble, and some investigations, among other things. As the Akame Network levels up, Akame will celebrate with Kiryu, getting drinks together as she opens up about her past.

Purgatory was a fan-favourite feature in past games, but it hasn’t been seen in a long time. However, it has a very worthy successor, known as The Castle. It’s a small Vegas-like city built in a large shipping container, floating in the ocean with its own gambling halls, clothing stores, swimming pools, bars, and lounges, and a building similar to Osaka Castle overlooks everything. The most unique feature is the new Coliseum, a brutal fight club with various fighters aiming to become number one. Entering and winning these tournaments will allow Kiryu to rise through the ranks and unlock other unique features.

The fights can be one-on-one, one-versus-many, or even a team rumble. The team rumble is the newest addition to the Coliseum, where players lead a team of up to ten fighters, including many familiar faces from past games, and those who pre-ordered this game will get the Legendary Fighter Pack DLC for free. They include fan-favourite characters such as Goro Majima, Taiga Saejima, and Daigo Dojima, all ready to knuckle up and join you for the team rumbles.

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name was originally intended to be a DLC, but Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio felt it would be better off as its own game. It’s much shorter than other Like a Dragon games, in that it can be completed in about 10-20 hours, but it’s also at the discounted price of 80AUD. Even for a shorter game, it still packs in so much content. The story is one to be remembered for years to come, and will likely leave fans shedding a few tears at the end. Takaya Kuroda puts in another brilliant performance as the Dragon of Dojima, as does the rest of the voice cast, and the cutscenes are cinema quality – a marvel to behold, especially with its lifelike graphics thanks to the Dragon Engine. A full English dub is due to be included in a future update, so it will be interesting to hear Yong Yea’s performance as the English voice of Kazuma Kiryu.

The story is long from over, as Kiryu is set to return in the upcoming Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, due out in January, with Ichiban Kasuga back as the main protagonist. Completing this game will unlock a demo for Infinite Wealth, so be sure to read our preview article of that too. Until then, Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is an emotional, action-packed rollercoaster that continues the legendary story of Kazuma Kiryu, the Dragon of Dojima.

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The Good

  • The return of Kazuma Kiryu
  • Brings the series back to it beat ‘em up roots
  • Epic emotional, action packed rollercoaster story
  • Plenty of side missions and activities
  • Gorgeous lifelike graphics

The Bad

  • No Kamurocho to explore
  • Occasional camera issue during combat
9.5
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10

Written by: Sammy Hanson

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