Like a Dragon Ishin! Review
Like a Dragon (formerly known as Yakuza) can be a tough series to get into, with many installments in the series it can be confusing on where the best place is to jump in. It also can be a little too off the wall for some people, with the random karaoke breaks and off the wall narratives.
Like a Dragon Ishin! However, is a very different kind of game, while yes it has the same characters known throughout the series, they are more presented like actors playing a role in a historical tale as the same voice actors and visuals are used but they are calling them different names.
Like a Dragon: Ishin! is set in the 1860s Japan during the Bakumatsu Era at the end of the Edo Period. Japan is thrown into turmoil after the arrival of Western ships, galvanizing the imperialist ideals of the Shishi, who wish to rebuild the nation around the emperor by overthrowing the Bakufu and expelling foreigners.
The game features an open world focusing on a powerful feudal domain and castle town in east Japan, Tosa, and Japan’s capital city at the time, Kyo. Kyo is divided into several key areas: the hospitality district Fushimi, the red light district Gion, the bustling Rakunai, the deserted Rakugai, and the perilous Mukurogai. The Shinsengumi (a notorious police force organized by the Bakufu) are headquartered in Kyo, where the majority of the game takes place.
Gameplay is (not surprisingly) similar to other Yakuza/Like a Dragon games, exploration in a semi-open world in which you fight your way through the story beats and then are treated to well done cut scenes to fill in the story beats in between.
Similar to the last couple entries you have four different fighting styles to utilize. In this game we get bare hands, katana, gun, and then the fourth is a blend of katana and gun in a dancer style combat. Each have their own leveling tree and you gain experience for them the more you utilize them.
While the Katana/Gun style may be the hardest to become efficient with, it’s hands down the most satisfying once you get the hang of it. Second to that I enjoyed pure katana battle which is satisfying to play with and authentic to the time period and culture in place.
The story in typical fashion can be wacky to an extent but it more grounded than other Yakuza/Like a Dragon games. While the narrative ends a little lackluster for my taste, the journey was pleasant enough to not make me regret my time spent with the game.
Just like the other games in the series there are still wacky mini games however they are more appropriate for the time period of the game, we are treated to rhythm bases games or do some cooking in your downtime.
At its core it’s definitely a Yakuza game, for better or worse. If you’ve played others and not enjoyed your time, I don’t think this one will do anything to sway your opinion, however if you are looking for an entry point without having to find lore from the other series this is a great jumping in point. All in all, it’s once again a very solid entry in a series with a long-standing tradition of making good games.