The announcement of a new chapter in the Like a Dragon series (the now ex Yakuza) already in itself would have had the power to literally leave me breathless. If you add to this that Like a Dragon Gaiden The Man Who Eresed His Name will once again have the good as its protagonist Kazuma KiryuI let you imagine the result. And, if the ad in question comes from Summer Games Fest 2023 who has already been able to give the great joy of the demo of Lies of P and the release date of Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, the final result is similar to the sound of shattered glass inside a Buddhist monastery. Like a Dragon Gaiden (I’ll call it that from now on because the full title is way too long) is a bit of a predestined. The title acts as a conjunction to the events of Yakuza 6 The Song of Life and Yakuza: Like a Dragon (the seventh chapter, to be clear), thus covering an important narrative hole, but which can also be fundamental for the future of the brand in general. On the other hand, and it cannot really be denied, as much as Ichiban Kasuga has proved to be worthy of the handover, Kazuma Kiryu’s allure is too still all too evidentAnd. Is his presence enough to make this new chapter of the highly anticipated series a bit unseen? Absolutely yes, because the work of the Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio by now we know it well and this is enough to make me already start counting the days that separate me and us from next November 9, the day when the game will arrive on the market.
Like a Dragon Gaiden The Man Who Eresed His Name: the song of the Dragon
Five years have now passed since the western release of Yakuza 6: Song of Life and the many tears shed echo in my mind, convinced like many other players, I imagine, that I must say goodbye in a definitive way to one of the most iconic protagonists in recent videogame history. And, in the end, in some ways it was like this, because Kazuma Kiryu is dead, at least apparently. To safeguard the future of all the people closest to him, including Haruko, Haruto and the other children of the orphanage, the now ex Dragon of Dojima had to agree to become a real ghost and pretend to be dead in the eyes of everyone. It wasn’t easy for Kiryu, it wouldn’t have been easy for anyone, and his face is a clear confirmation of this, to say the least. Let me be clear, the protagonist of the Yakuza series (now Like a Dragon) has never been a funny guy and his expressions have rarely sketched smiles and truly happy expressions, but the Kiryu that I glimpsed in the game’s presentation trailer is even more “broken ” than it ever was until then. In short, Kazuma Kiryu would seem to be truly dead by now, or at least his past. The man would seem to have definitively closed in on himself and dusted off that lone wolf vein of his that was somewhat – inevitably – set aside over the last few years, but the events surrounding him are destined to make him change his perspective again.
After all, Kazuma Kiryu is a warrior, a fighter, a battle strategist, and his self-confinement to an invisible person could not have a long life. In the trailer, in fact, we see Kiryu busy meditating in a temple, where he probably took up residence under a false identity to somehow resume his life, but the moment is abruptly interrupted by the arrival of a figure with whom Kiryu seems to have a fair amount of confidence. The man, for his part, does not seem surprised too much to find the former Dragon of Dojima in that place and does not hesitate to get right to the point. Indeed, for Kiryu it is time to return to action. The mysterious figure asks Kiryu to do what he does best: protect someone. Our hero, who is called by the code name Joryu, whose meaning of the kanji is that of “Reborn” Dragon or something similar, accepts the new mission without too much fuss, also because, let’s face it, knowing him, it’s really complicated to keep hold your hands and stay aloof. Kiryu is back then, he looks like a full-fledged bodyguard, and he is escorting a young and attractive woman, who also seems very rich and powerful, before being surrounded in a whirlwind of opponents who clearly want to make an attempt on the young woman’s life, even if we still know why, and honestly, we can’t wait to find out.
The Return of the Dragon
The narrative device is perfect for reviewing and re-admiring in action what, without many doubts, is one of the strongest and most complete warriors in the Like a Dragon narrative universe. The guys at Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio have decided for this new chapter in the series to take a “step back” and dust off the old action combat system, abandoning the role-playing vein, at least for the moment which accompanied the debut on the scene (among other things with excellent results) of Ichiban Kasuga. In Like a Dragon Gaiden the players will once again take on the role of Kazuma Kiryue and, indeed, time would seem to have stopped, at least by observing the feedback and style of the man’s fights and movements. In fact, in the trailer I saw a very charged Kiryu, almost even more unstoppable, which is perhaps also due to the fact that he is more free from constraints and, consequently, more inclined to unleash his overflowing offensive arsenal. Observing the clashes and based on the little information released so far, I understood that the nature of the combat system seems very traditional but with some innovations that seem to have great playful and structural potential. Kiryu can use two different fighting styles: Yakuza and Agent, both with apparently very different characteristics.
If in the first case we are faced with a more classic and if we want traditional approach to battles, it is certainly the new fighting style that offers the juiciest news. Thanks to his new role, in fact, Kazuma Kiryu seems to be able to make use of new tools, to compensate for the continuous battles in which he is forced to fight in strong numerical inferiority, among which I noticed a sort of electrified fruit that seems to have an important attack range, capable of guaranteeing the protagonist offensive power even from a considerable distance. In addition to this, of course, there are more classic solutions. Kiryu seems to have the classic blue aura surrounding him, a symbol of recharging Heat Actions. I noticed Kiryu’s usual desire to rage with special shots to reset the offensive spirit of the opponents, as well as the need to rely on props (bikes, vending machines, etc.) in order to somehow make life easier in situations, such as also said before, of continuous numerical disadvantage. In short, from a playful point of view, Like a Dragon Gaiden seems in all respects the apotheosis of the return to the origins of the series. Kiryu moves in a traditional way, he seems to be the same as always, but his new life could (and has already done so, in some way) open up new possibilities also on a playful level, perhaps in ways that we do not yet know. Waiting for new information, however, I can be very satisfied with what I have seen and I can’t wait to find out everything else.
Welcome back to Kamurocho… actually, no
One of the most interesting aspects of this trailer is certainly the one related to the location and the nature of Kiryu life in the game world. In fact, we do not know the location where the guys from Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio have decided to set the new adventure del Drago di Dojima, but I am convinced that, in any case, the feedback offered by the new location will be very traditional and hospitable. After all, the final part of the trailer shows Kiryu engaged with the classic secondary activities that have always been present in the titles of the series and which return with great arrogance also in this new episode. In addition to these, the sort of leveled combat arena that we also saw in the adventure of Ichiban Kasuga could also return to the game. The castle that you see in the final phase of the trailer should be the theater of the extra activities most devoted to the attack and training of our alter ego and I can’t wait to find out how and if it will be connected to Kiryu’s growth, perhaps in terms of character growth and development. Even though I don’t know the identity of the city, I still have the impression that once again it seems to be really full of things to do, to discover and to see. Between contracts, side missions and various challenges, the game seems to be able to offer the usual long-lasting and rewarding gaming experience, but for the moment we don’t have more specific information about it yet. What I can, however, put my hand on fire is the technical and graphic aspect of the game. At first glance, the game seems in fact very much in line with the recent productions of the studio, and if we think that SEGA will also distribute the game on PS4 and Xbox One it is clear that we are still faced with a cross-generational production and, therefore, unable to make particular qualitative leaps to the series.
Piattaforme: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One
Sviluppatore: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Release Date: November 9, 2023
Like a Dragon Gaiden The Man Who Eresed His Name seems to have all the credentials to best seal the return to the scene of one of the most beloved characters in videogame history. Kazuma Kiryu is different, he has suffered and is suffering, but he seems very ready to take back the scene, in what promises to be a chapter of the more traditional series and at the same time full of interesting points, to be discovered, clearly, over the next few months.