There are few franchises that steadiness tone in addition to Like a Dragon. Each sport within the sequence is a fragile balancing act between melodramatic cutscenes and playful minigames, a combination that’s very straightforward to get improper. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, the eighth mainline sport within the sequence, is the poster youngster of that balancing act. The whole lot about it, from its themes to its mechanics, is about steadiness.
Infinite Wealth is a direct sequel to Yakuza: Like a Dragon in each sense of the phrase. Whereas earlier Yakuza/Like a Dragon video games have been pretty standalone exterior of some callbacks right here and there, Infinite Wealth not solely references previous occasions in each single chapter but in addition expects the participant to be aware of each Ichiban and Kiryu’s adventures. This even applies to the substories, a lot of which characteristic acquainted faces from Ichiban’s earlier journey in Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
You may nonetheless comply with alongside completely advantageous if that is your first Like a Dragon sport (and there’s a useful recap for newcomers), however a lot of the story’s affect will likely be misplaced on you should you aren’t a longtime fan. From main story beats like fists flying between outdated associates to small callbacks just like the Kamurocho battle theme being a remix of the unique Yakuza’s battle theme, there are such a lot of emotional intestine punches in Infinite Wealth that simply gained’t land should you aren’t a sequence veteran.
For instance, longtime face of the franchise Kazuma Kiryu has had a number of sendoffs at this level — with Yakuza 6 supposedly being the top of Kiryu’s story though he confirmed as much as go the torch to Ichiban in Yakuza 7 after which received yet one more final hurrah in Like a Dragon Gaiden — however Infinite Wealth feels just like the true finish of an period in additional methods than one. The Dragon of Dojima’s battle with most cancers sends him down a highway of remembrance paved with nostalgia and acquainted faces.
Kiryu wrestles with the legacy he’s forsaking all through the principle story of Infinite Wealth, however it’s the facet content material that actually shines for his half of the sport. The streets of Isezaki Ijincho and Kamurocho are dotted with Memoirs of a Dragon that vary from minor flashbacks to full-on substories. Each constructing, each nook, and each darkish alley holds particular recollections for Kiryu. It’s a testomony to the endurance of the sequence, and followers will admire each one in every of Kiryu’s recollections. Whether or not he’s preventing waves of goons or sitting down for a quiet chat with an outdated good friend, Kiryu’s story is about remembering what it means to be a Dragon.
Studying the true that means of being a Dragon is central to Ichiban’s story as effectively, as Infinite Wealth marks the true passing of the torch between the 2 characters. The sport’s twin protagonist system is way more than a gimmick. Kiryu’s facet of the story is concerning the outdated era righting their wrongs and realizing that there’s a higher path for everybody, whereas Ichiban’s facet of the story is concerning the new era trying to the longer term and balancing custom and progress. It’s an all too acquainted story on this age of gaming, however Infinite Wealth delivers its message in a means that solely a Like a Dragon sport may, full with melodramatic shirtless duels and overly passionate karaoke classes.
The sequence additionally appears to the longer term with its first-ever location exterior of Japan. The story sends Ichiban and co. to Hawaii, and this tropical paradise is way more than only a backdrop. Hawaiian tradition and historical past are intrinsically linked to the story of Infinite Wealth. Amid the backstreet brawls and crime drama, the sport takes the time to discover the intricacies of Hawaii, the exploitation of its tradition and native inhabitants, and the realities of a tourism-dominated economic system. In fact, that is Like a Dragon so most of those issues find yourself mounted with a fistfight, however the way in which Ichiban and the celebration navigate the cultural panorama of Hawaii goes an extended option to develop their characters.
The streets of Hawaii are additionally filled with a ton of actions to take pleasure in exterior of the principle story. The principle facet video games in Infinite Wealth are Sujimon and Dondoko Island. Sujimon is a team-based battler that pulls heavy inspiration from Pokemon, letting you get hold of the enemies that you simply combat in regular battles by way of a gacha system or raids scattered all through the open world. Dondoko Island is an Animal Crossing-inspired island builder the place Ichiban can craft buildings and decorations to assist restore a struggling resort that’s beneath siege by a polluting gang known as the Washbucklers.
You may also participate within the typical pastimes like karaoke along with new minigames like Loopy Supply and Miss Match, however Sujimon and Dondoko Island are the principle points of interest. They’re so expansive that calling them “side content” feels disrespectful. The actual spotlight of those actions, nevertheless, is how effectively they’re built-in into the principle sport. For instance, Sujimon raids are throughout Hawaii and it’s arduous to stroll a couple of blocks with out operating right into a Sujimon gacha machine. On prime of that, substory characters and associates that you simply make throughout Hawaii may be invited to Dondoko Island as visitors.
As a matter of reality, Infinite Wealth’s biggest power is how effectively all of its methods feed again into one another. Sujimon that you simply seize can be utilized in regular battles by way of Ichiban’s Sujimancer Job. Conversations and minigames together with your celebration members improve your bond ranges, unlocking new tag crew assaults and combo skills for fight. You would possibly discover Dondoko Island recipes when looking for therapeutic gadgets. Even one thing so simple as greeting NPCs all through town will improve Ichiban’s persona ranges, granting him new skills in fight and unlocking new Jobs.
This isn’t something new for Like a Dragon video games or RPGs generally, however the true victory is how little friction there may be between all the methods. Elevating bond ranges is easy since conversations occur naturally when you’re strolling across the metropolis and you may even rating some bond factors from actions like karaoke. Plus, the sport incentivizes constructing bonds with an addictive friendship bingo system. Sujimon stations offer you free gadgets simply by strolling close to them, engaging you to make a couple of pulls and construct out your crew. Leveling Jobs is simple since all characters get expertise, even ones not in your lively celebration.
Even substories and facet missions have been redesigned to deal with shorter encounters with multi-stage tales. They’ll by no means take up various minutes of your time they usually’re so nice that you simply’ll need to head straight to the subsequent half as quickly as you’ll be able to. You’ll very hardly ever end up pondering “I don’t have time for this” when taking part in Infinite Wealth, and that’s an immense achievement.
It helps that the core mechanics are a blast, too. Whereas Yakuza: Like a Dragon caught the touchdown when the sequence transitioned from motion to turn-based fight, Infinite Wealth refines that system into among the best turn-based battle methods in any RPG. It locations an enormous emphasis on positioning and environmental assaults. Social gathering members can now freely transfer across the battlefield throughout their flip, which provides a number of layers of technique to fights. Enemies take additional injury when attacked from behind, some assaults knock enemies again which damages every other enemies that they hit, allies can carry out combo assaults in the event that they stand close to one another, gadgets may be picked up and used as weapons, and extra.
It’s simply an distinctive battle system in all regards, particularly with the customization of the Job system, which has been expanded with a brand new Talent Inheritance system. With this mechanic, you’ll be able to carry over expertise from any Job for each character. If you need the therapeutic skills of an Idol however the injury output of a Kunoichi, that’s potential. You may inherit much more expertise as you degree up your celebration bonds, and you may create some actually distinctive builds due to this.
Implementing so many new methods and putting such an enormous deal with its facet content material was a danger, however Infinite Wealth so confidently asserts itself that it’s arduous to not fall in love with every part that it has to supply. Like its protagonist, it’s a sport that overtly wears its coronary heart on its sleeve. Even if you’re on the last word Hawaiian trip, there’s nonetheless time to reunite feuding associates or assist a crawfish discover love.
Sequels are inclined to iterate upon their predecessors, however Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio crammed so many enhancements into Infinite Wealth that it simply enters the sequel corridor of fame. For the studio’s second crack on the turn-based RPG format, Infinite Wealth knocks it out of the park. With a refined battle system, a stellar supporting solid, and the most effective facet content material the sequence has ever seen, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is without doubt one of the greatest RPGs of the trendy period.