Yakuza: Like a Dragon was one of my favorite games of 2020, and ever since the announcement of its sequel back in June, I couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come. Little did I know that finishing Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name unlocked a special trial demo of Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth.
The demo includes two modes: Adventure and Hawaii, with the former focusing on the opening narrative segments of the full game and the latter focusing on mini-games and side activities. The beginning of Infinite Wealth starts off right after the conclusion of The Man Who Erased His Name, and has an aged Kiryu visiting Hawaii. The reason as to why he’s there I will leave for you to find out yourself! He soon meets up candidly with Yakuza: Like A Dragon (Yakuza 7) protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga, and the two set out for another adventure in search of Ichiban’s birth mother, Akane. Things obviously go awry and our heroes find themselves in another bizarre journey.
Infinite Wealth’s turn-based combat has evolved and improved on the system introduced in Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Characters can now move freely within a certain radius, which increases as they level up, allowing for a more strategic and tactical approach to fighting. For example, I do more damage the closer I am to an enemy, or I can even execute a tag-team combo attack with an ally if I move close enough to them. The job system also makes a welcome return, and having Kiryu in my party this time really ups the ante. He upholds his signature Dragon of Dojima fighting style which actually turns combat into a real-time affair that’s reminiscent of older Yakuza titles.
Having the game be set in Hawaii is uncharted territory for the franchise, as it’s the first time the series has strayed away from the bustling neon-lit alleyways of Tokyo or Yokohama. RGG Studio has always excelled at visuals and the Aloha State looks absolutely beautiful, with sunny beaches and immaculate tropical vibes. We also get to meet a few new characters along the way, mainly a taxi driver named Eric Tomizawa, whom we recruit into our party. Don’t worry, many characters from the previous game are slated to make a return as well, along with more brand new faces.
The narrative takes a backseat here, for obvious reasons, with the Adventure portion lasting less than 30 minutes, but gives just enough to get you hyped for the full release. On the other hand, the Hawaii mode drops you on the beach and gives you an array of side activities to try out. The series’ staple substory side quests, gambling, and karaoke mini-game make a welcome return, but the game also introduces a refreshing take on Pokemon Go by spotting sickos along with a Crazy Taxi-like mini-game. Though not in the demo, we got a tease of other wacky side content to indulge in, including the Animal Crossing-esque Dondoko Island!
I can’t wait for the release of the next mainline entry in the Yakuza franchise, as it’s only a mere two and a half months away. The brief demo was the perfect cherry on top of finishing Like a Dragon Gaiden, as Infinite Wealth is shaping up to be Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s next big masterpiece. With the refreshing take on turn-based combat, the over the top quirkiness of the mini-games, and a story I know will have me shedding tears, this game can’t come soon enough.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth will be released on PC via Steam, Xbox One, Xbox Series consoles, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5 on January 26, 2024. The game will be priced at $69.99 for the Standard edition, $84.99 for the Deluxe edition, and $104.99 for the Ultimate edition. Preorders score the Hero’s Booster & Special Job Bundle.