Review – Yakuza: Like A Dragon

For as long as mankind has existed, tales of revenge and redemption have forever been told in books, movies, songs, and games, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon is no exception. The new installment of the Yakuza from the developers at SEGA sees it being taken in a new direction with the introduction of Ichiban Kasuga as the game’s main character, a loyal junior member of the Tojo Clan’s Arakawa Yakuza Family rather then Kazuma Kiryu as the main protagonist. The player is taken on a journey of redemption, revenge, and growth as Ichiban progresses and the true meaning of family and loyalty becomes evident. Yakuza: Like a Dragon will appeal not only to those who have played the series and love this style of game, but the developers have crafted a game that will draw in those who are new to the Yakuza.

Yazuka: Like A Dragon begins with a flashback of the Arakawa family’s patriarch Masumi Arakawa as a young boy performing with his father on the stage before it leads the player to understand how he will come to be in the position he is when Ichiban is introduced into the game in modern-day Japan at the turn of the 20thcentury and early 21stcentury. Forced to go to prison for a murder which Ichiban didn’t commit to cover for the captain of the Arakawa Family to maintain standing with other Yakuza families, Ichiban spends the next 18 years locked away only to emerge in a different world that was 2019. From there, the story of revenge and redemption begins to play out across the preceding chapters.


Yakuza: Like a Dragon is an emotive story-driven game that allows players to venture through the city and explore when not completing missions that can still advance the story. As a player who has played the Yakuza series, this game captivated me and there were times whilst playing that the hours just flew by. There is so much to do in Yakuza: Like a Dragon with that it can take up over 50 plus hours to completely play through with the missions and side stories that are available for Ichiban to complete and that’s not even taking into consideration just how immersive the Yakuza world is. This is testament to just how much both Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio and SEGA invested in creating a game that will capture both the new and old players to the Yakuza series, in some aspects, it feels as if the game is the beginning of a new series for the next generation of both players and consoles.


Not only does the game have a new main protagonist, Yakuza: Like a Dragon sees a change in scenery with the game moving away from the traditional setting of Tokyo and the fictional city entertainment sector known as Kamurocho, to the new surroundings of Yokohama and a district called Isezaki Ijincho. The developers have created an immersive world that draws the player in, there are food stores to visit that allow Ichiban and his party to replenish their health and MP, as well as general stores, pharmacies, and various other stores that allow the player to buy items that will help during battles. The world of Yakuza: Like a Dragon is also interactive, when in fights or just exploring the world, Ichiban will interact with objects that are near him, such as using physical objects that he can pick up when in a fight to use as a weapon.


The gameplay of Yakuza: Like a Dragon is not like the previous Yakuza games, which is one of the biggest changes being made to the game’s battle system when Ichiban and his party go into combat with either enemy gangs on the streets or within the storyline. Rather than having the traditional method of real-time beat’em up mechanics of the previous games, Yakuza: Like a Dragon features turn-based RPG type combat, with a four-person battle team with Ichiban always being the party leader. This provides the player with the ability to either attack normally via the A button or use enhanced attack methods using the Y button with each character having different enhanced attacks which can be used whilst in combat. The X button will allow players to bring up the item list when a character may need either a replenishment of health or MP that allows characters to use special attack moves, otherwise the player may find Ichiban and his party in strife when in combat.


At the time of my review, Yakuza: Like a Dragon was started on the Xbox One X before moving onto the Xbox Series X. The changing of the generation presented the opportunity to see what differences there may be between the two consoles. Graphics-wise, the difference was amazing, playing Yakuza with 4K and 60 FPS made the difference between the consoles obvious. The Xbox Series X offered a faster load time as well as true 4K and 60 FPS, this made the game stand out even more graphically and ran so much smoother on the Series X, this leads to an enjoyable gaming experience though it is not to say that the Xbox One X is a slouch in the performance department and still worth playing Yakuza: Like a Dragon on that system.


With the launch of the next generation of gaming consoles, Yakuza Series Chief Producer from Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio Masayoshi Yokoyama was interviewed by Xbox News Wire and asked the question

What excites you most about developing and bringing Yakuza: Like a Dragon to life on next-generation hardware?”

stated in his answer that

Being able to develop Yakuza: Like a Dragon on Xbox Series X gave us an opportunity to develop the game at a much higher performance level than we’ve ever been able achieve before. Seeing the game run at a smooth 60 FPS gameplay experience or in native 4K with near-instant load times is incredible.” (Yokoyama, 2020).

This is evident when experiencing  Yakuza: Like a Dragon on the Xbox Series X, graphically the game is a stunning masterpiece that truly showcases the power of the new next-gen consoles that are now available.


Yakuza: Like A Dragon is not a game that is appropriate to be played around children, though it is a game that teenagers 15 and upwards may want to play if both parents and teenagers feel it is suitable. There is violence and sexual themes in the game hence why it is not suitable for the younger audience. The game also offers both Japanese and English audio and subtitles which offers the player the opportunity to have Japanese audio and English subtitles or to have both audio and subtitles in English, that customisation option allows the player to create the gaming experience that they want.

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J for One More Game 

9 – Amazing – as near to a 10 as you are going to get without it being a 10. It’s an amazing experience that just requires that little something else to make it a masterpiece. Your hard earned cash and time would be well spent here.

Please click the link here for a full rundown of our rating scale.

Yakuza: Like A Dragon was reviewed on the Xbox One X and Xbox Series X. It is out now and available on the Xbox and PC from retailers and via Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. It will be released on PlayStation 4 and 5 in March 2021.

Xbox ANZ provided review code for the purposes of this review. The thoughts of this title are ours and ours alone.


Yokoyama, M., 2020. Inside Xbox Series X Optimized: Yakuza: Like a Dragon [Interview] (20 October 2020). Link found here.

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