Arrived for the moment only in Japan, Yakuza: Like a Dragon represents a fundamental hub for the famous series created by SEGA. In fact, it is not only the eighth chapter of the franchise (also considering Yakuza 0), but a real new beginning, which will certainly bring a breath of fresh air in its gameplay. In fact, the news will be many, from the main character to the game mechanics, however the typical atmosphere of the saga does not seem to have been lost, thanks to a basic setting that has been preserved together with various other game elements. So let's analyze what we know about the title and find out if because there are high chances that this balance will be maintained.
The debut of Ichiban Kasuga
The news of the last episode of Yakuza certainly starts from the figure that we find in the foreground. The new protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga, is a character with an outgoing character and therefore very different from the silent Kazuma Kiryu. However, the two share a fairly similar background as well as a strong personality and, although Kiryu is gifted with much more strength, good fighting skills.
The initial events of the plot, shown in the announcement trailer, bring Kasuga to the district of Isezaki Ijincho in Yokohama, the main setting of the game. This is also good news for the series, as in previous chapters the primary location was usually the city of Kamurocho. The landing in the new location is an opportunity for the protagonist to form some relationship, and here we see perhaps the biggest difference between him and Kiryu.
During his adventure, Kasuga will in fact be accompanied by three other characters, who will form a complete "party" within the fights. We come here to the most radical change made by Yakuza: Like a Dragon, or the component JRPG.
An original and grotesque RPG
- turn-based battles that characterize the title represent a real change of direction for the franchise which, if well exploited, can certainly guarantee many benefits. In this sense, the various gameplay excerpts that we have analyzed are promising, in particular thanks to that beautiful sense of grotesque that emerges from the union of a city setting and Dragon Quest game mechanics. Series, the latter, loved by Ichiban Kasuga himself. Unlike the epic contained in the episodes of the Square Enix saga, here the tones are much more light-hearted, if not parody. Just think of the system of jobs (or "classes"), among which we find, for example, the Idol, the Fortuneteller or the dancer, but also the "evocations" of assistants that can be unlocked through secondary missions.
In any case, depth does not seem to be lacking, thanks to quite interesting dynamics. Among these we find interactivity with the environment surrounding, thanks to which it is possible to see our characters kick bicycles or other objects at enemies. Also important is the positioning of the opponents, who do not remain immobile during the battle and therefore open the way to different strategies. For example, you can decide to wait for one of the targets to approach another and then unleash an area attack at the right time.
To give more dynamism to the fights there are also small quick time events, which require, in case of special attacks, to press a key at the right time to increase the damage dealt or to reduce the damage taken. Those who do not particularly appreciate the slowness of the classic turn-based battles can therefore breathe a sigh of relief, as Like a Dragon seems to present a fairly active system, as well as over the top. There is also a practical auto battle command, which allows you to speed up battles in case you come across enemies from a rather low level.
The role-playing philosophy obviously also pervades everything around pure action, with stats to take into account, equipment to manage, and more. Not even one of the classic elements of the genre is missing: i dungeon. These are real underground places of the city where it is possible to meet various enemies and, above all, useful resources that change with each visit of the labyrinth, prompting the player to explore one several times to get more and more experience and objects.
At the moment we have only talked about what are the great news of this title, however it must be said that Yakuza: Like a Dragon still seems to maintain its bond with the previous chapters. This is mainly noticeable in the exploration, which now takes place in what appears to be a much larger map than the previous ones and in which the fast travel option will be available. Where the touch of the series is evident is in the quests and side activities which, already from the trailers, seem extremely crazy and singular. In this case we cannot fail to mention the Dragon Kart, or a kart race through the streets of Yokohama that recalls those of a famous mustachioed plumber.
In short, we are faced with a title that protects the roots of the franchise to which it belongs and which at the same time distorts part of the gameplay. For this reason the work appears very promising, as it is potentially able to give a new, fresh and particular experience without having to distort its origins. We just have to wait for the release in the West to draw conclusions, even if at the moment the release date on PlayStation 4 is set to a generic 2020.