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The Nerd Side Of Life

“Yakuza: Like a Dragon:” Strangest Game I Can’t Stop Playing [Review]

I am acutely aware of how late I am to the party for this one. “Yakuza: Like A Dragon” is over a year old, and has a plethora of reviews, tips, tricks, and walkthroughs across all internet platforms. There probably isn’t much that I can add to the discourse that hasn’t already been said, but that doesn’t change the fact that I can’t stop playing this game since I got it for free on my Xbox Series X Game Pass. I also can’t stop thinking about “Yakuza: Like a Dragon.” So much so that I felt compelled to share my thoughts despite many of them existing in an echo chamber of a longstanding and well documented conversation. There’s a lot to unpack, so fair warning: this is going to be a very long, in depth analysis of a very massive and complex game.

I can’t remember a time when I’ve been this obsessed with a game. And I’ve actually tried to write this review numerous times, but the farther I progress in the game, the more my opinion changes. The game is vast and immersive, and constantly adding layer upon layer of complexity, bizarreness, and outright silliness. The last two games I can remember dumping this many hours into obsessively is probably “The Witcher 3” and “Red Dead Redemption 2.

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Like a Dragon” is a strange hybrid of games, combining elements of tell tale cut scenes, JRPG open world adventure, mission based progress ala “Grand Theft Auto,” RPG leveling and party play and turn based RPG combat. It simply doesn’t make sense that all of these things exist in a single game. What makes even less sense is that all of them function together in perfect harmony. The story is compelling and complete, the characters are fascinating and fun to use, the world is vast and the tasks and side missions are seemingly endless, and the turned base combat revitalizes the longstanding franchise into a varied, continuously moving battle. Dare I say, “Yakuza Like a Dragon” is a damn near masterpiece. A wonderfully crafted game that acts as work of art and mastery for game development across the board. The game’s level and world designs are so intricate and true to form in its recreation of Japan (both real and fictional) that even when you’re not doing anything in particular, you never tire of simply existing in Ijincho. Everything is so interactive and bursting with life that even if you’re just running around the park collecting bugs for gear and missions, you never feel the grind of the game’s default nature.

Make no mistake, either. “Yakuza: Like a Dragon” is a grind. Vastness always comes at a cost of leveling, and JRPG and turn based RPGS rely heavily on the grind of achieving new levels and better gear. All of which take time, effort, battles, and resources. Battles are constant, missions are endless, and resources are scarce. But “Like a Dragon” is so damn fun you never actually feel how grinding it actually is. The sights are dazzling, the enemies are varied (there are over 250 different enemy types, something wholly unique to a game like this) and the rewards for your accomplishments make it worth it. Oh, and the combat is awesome, with the job ranking system (more on that later) providing players with a plethora of unique attacks for all of your party members. There is just so much to do and so many fun and unique ways to do it that time simply flies by without notice. I’ve dumped almost 80 hours into the game, and I’m still 2 and half chapters away from the end game. The story is compelling, but it’s just as easy to put it on the back burner and dump hours into delivering toilet paper to random stalls for people who decided to go number 2 without checking the stock first (yes, that’s really an entire side quest and it’s not even the most bizarre).

The game also sports a special balance between self importance and self awareness. These opposing ideas somehow come together beautifully in “Yakuza: Like a Dragon.” The heavy handedness of Japanese politics, disenfranchised cultures and workers, power, family, and friendship can all feel a bit much at times. There’s lot of that “Scott earned the power of friendship” going on here, but it is perfectly balanced with the outright bizarre aspects of the game that off set these messages. I don’t think I can properly capture how bizarre and strange this game actually gets. Whether it’s fighting a giant roomba robot that squirts hot coffee to burn your party members, or summoning a literal man baby in a diaper to debuff your opponents, or call upon a friend named Mr. Masochist and his dominatrix love match (again, yes, really) to boost your parties defenses, there is no end to how weird and out there the game gets. Oh, did I mention you fight a monkey who manages to operate a crane? Because that totally happens.

There is just too much to love about “Yakuza Like a Dragon,” and the revamping of the combat and leveling system makes it easy for people like me to use this 7th entry into the long running series as an intro to the games. It’s ok if you’ve never played a single “Yakuza” game until now. The departures from the original gameplay is large enough that outside of a few nods to the original games, you can jump right in to the new world without much concern for what transpired. This is largely due in part to a brand new protagonist, who is about as clueless about the current world as we are, especially if it’s your first experience with the series.

The game is simply too vast and too detailed to cover everything I want to talk about, so I’m going to break the rest of this review down into categories: Main Story, Characters and Combat, Sub Stories and Mini Games, and Final Tips and Tricks. Each section with have their own tips and tricks section, and trust me when I tell you that you’ll want to uncover as many of them as possible. The game isn’t very clear on a lot of things, and without some guidance there’s a big chance you’ll never, ever get the full experience. If you know me, you know that I’m not above looking something up on Youtube to get through it. Hell, I looked up a ton of walkthroughs and videos and STILL sank 80 hours into the game without finishing it yet, so no I don’t think it takes anything away from the overall game by looking up how to get through and find certain things.

Main Story

Yakuza: Like a Dragon” seeks to not only revamp their combat and gameplay, but also change up their story too. Don’t get me wrong, there is a LOT of old school “Yakuza” in the main story, but the game introduces a brand new protagonist to help guide us through this new strange world. The story follows Ichiban Kasauga, a young yakuza member of the Arakawa family. He reveres his leader who saved his life many years ago, and looks to Arakawa as the father he never had. After a murder of a police officer committed in the dark by someone in the family, Arakawa asks Ichiban to take the fall for the honor of the family. Willing to do whatever it takes to repay his debt to his boss, he agrees to go to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Ichiban is released from prison 18 years later, only to discover that the world he left behind has been forever changed. For starters, his old boss has sold out his entire family and clan (the Tojo Clan) and allowed a revitalized police force to essentially run them out of town. He is also the acting captain of their rival, The Omi Alliance who used the goverment’s crackdown on the Tojo Clan to swoop in and claim the territory for themselves. To make matters worse, when Ichiban finally confronts is former boss, he is shot and left for dead in a homeless camp in Injincho.

It is here where Ichiban begins to unravel a foul plot afoot that goes all the way to the top of the political spectrum. The further down the rabbit hole he goes, the wider and wider the web becomes. It even manages to rope in a number of friends he meets along the way, all of whom have their own person reasons for joining the fight and following Ichiban on his quest for answers. Power struggles, unexpected enemies turned friends, twists, turns, betrayals, and battles all define the journey as you go through it. The main story also touches on a number of social issues that are either direct or exaggerated critiques of real issues that have or still do plague Japan. The idea of gray zones and displaced immigrants looking for a home, the swell of Bleach Japan (an NPO bent on dismantling gray zones and crime), political and police corruption, even coin locker babies all play an integral part in the story and can all be attributed to some kind of truth in the history of Japan.

They aren’t all real, of course. Bleach Japan is a completely fictionalized organization, but it represents a very real sentiment in Japan and particularly areas with high crime. The coin locker babies play a pivotal role in the main story, and even gets a little daytime soap opera tv in their twist and turns as they uncover what actually happened all those years ago. But leaving babies in lockers was a real problem for Japan at one time, so as wild and sometimes silly as the game gets in its portrayal, you can see the immense love and historical knowledge the developers have for their country. It’s both beautiful and brutal, both a critique and homage to a beloved and fascinating country. I was already planning to visit Japan in the next few years (pandemic notwithstanding of course), and “Yakuza: Like a Dragon” only elevates that desire. Case in point, “Like a Dragon” sports one of the best game stories I’ve played through in a long time. It’s addicting, heartfelt, complex, tonally imbalanced yet somehow perfectly crafted. It beautifully balances the bizarre with some truly meaningful messages and themes, something very few games have to mastery to do, especially at the same time in the same game.

Story Tips:

There’s not much to give you tips on here. What I will say is that the cut scenes are long. Like, really, really, REALLY long. Like you can set your controller down until it times out kind of long sometimes. And while the game certainly gives you plenty of opportunities to skip through it, I would recommend taking it all in. The story is interesting enough that you shouldn’t mind watching it unfold. I do think that while it is compelling and worth watching, some of the cut scenes could be shortened slightly. There’s also a strange flip flop of cut scenes with full interactions from the characters and dialogue prompts with limited speaking and interactions. When it first happened, I though it was a glitch, but it simply something that seems to be a part of the game design. Characters will go from a full on story driven cut scene, return the controls to you to fight a battle, then immediately switch to a text only style dialogue prompt while your characters given one word answers and nod slightly. It’s pretty jarring, but just know that your game is fine and it’s kind of just how it works. If the game has any design flaws, this is certainly one of them and something I’m still not use to or enjoy even after 80 hours of play time.

Also note that not all chapters are created equal, and the game does a really poor job in preparing you for what comes next in the story and how long you’ll have to play to find a save point. “Like a Dragon” autosaves for you, so you’ll probably be fine. But there were a number of spots in the story where i wasn’t prepared for how long I would have to play through without a break, nor how quickly the difficulty escalates. Because of this, it’s best to consistently take a break from the main story and complete other things to prepare for each chapter. With extremely long cut scenes and chapters that seem endless, it’s best to manage your time in the game by exploring other tasks and missions outside of the main story. The main story itself is over 30 hours long if you just play the game straight through, so there really aren’t any shortcuts to completion. Plus, I don’t think there’s any way to complete the main story without doing other things. The escalation of difficulty will absolutely catch you off guard and you’ll be stuck on a boss fight before you know it. Take your time. The story is wonderful and worth experiencing, but it’s best to tackle the rest of what the game has to offer prior to barreling through long chapters.

Characters and Combat

Ichiban may very well be my favorite protagonist of all time. A true hero through and through, he’s incredibly likable and easy to root for. Not only that, but you feel for him every step of the way. He’s a lovable nerd who may be too honest and too naive for his own good, but it adds to his overall charm as you make your way through the streets of Yokohoma. He really is pretty dumb sometimes, but his honestly and loyalty and wearing his heart on his sleeve all the time ends up becoming endearing. You, like many people you meet, attach yourself to Ichiban, and he really is your classic hero. And remember when we talked about balancing the self seriousness with the self aware? Well that all rests on Ichiban’s shoulders. The absurdity of your villains and turned based combat along with your costumes and fighting styles are all translated through Ichiban’s own imagination. Our hero is obsessed with “Dragon Quest,” a game he remembers quite fondly from his childhood. Upon arriving in Ijincho and gaining a few friends, it’s he himself who transforms the fights and his adventure into a video game. No one else sees what he and we see, and the other party members continuously comment as much. This not only lends itself to loving Ichiban even more, but also lets the player know that “Like a Dragon” is in on the joke, too. It’s funny, unique way to introduce a wide array of enemies and fighting styles, and seeing as how there are over 250 enemies to battle and an insane amount of jobs to choose for your party members, you never really run out of new imaginative ways to fight.

Where “Like a Dragon” really shines is in its party members and Ichiban’s growing relationship with each of them. Unlike other turned based RPGs that tack on party members as you progress in the story, the game takes it a step further and focuses on developing each and every single person you encounter. You learn as much about the characters that decide to come with you as you do about the main character they’re joining. Every single party member has an intricate back story that can be unlocked and experienced, and all of them are given legitimate personalities and motivations for joining Ichiban. There is no dead weight here, and your party is strengthened by learning more about each of them. Even members that join your party much later in the game like Joon Gi-Han and Zhao (who spoiler alert, definitely start out as enemies) are given ample opportunities to the player to learn about them. It’s such a wonderful treat that adds complexity and personality to every single person you can control, and it makes the turned based combat all the more interesting and fun. Sure, you’re using certain members for their chosen skills, but you feel a connection with them too, which adds purpose to every fight and everyone fighting.

With 250 enemies to choose from, it’s impossible to deep dive into all the people you meet. So aside from your party members, there are a handful of people you meet (and sometimes fight) that are really well written and interesting. Matsumi Arakawa, who plays a pivotal role in the Ichiban’s life is one of them. Although we get most of his interactions and exposition at the beginning and end and he disappears from the middle of the game almost entirely, he looms over the plot and motivation of the main character so much that you never really feel or notice his absence. It also helps that the English dubbing brought in George Takei to do the voice work, a move that adds immense gravitas to an already imposing and powerful figure. It’s simply astonishing how much character work is put into a character you never actually play.

Same goes for my new gaming crush Seong-hui, leader of Geomijul and part of the Injing Three. Though slightly underdeveloped (due more to the story only being able to include so much) she is such a compelling character that my only complaint is that we don’t get more of her and that we can’t fight with her. Sadly, she never joins your party, but she is the pinnacle of a “boss bitch” in every single way and I loved every second of interaction with her. Yet another testament to how beautiful and masterfully crafted the characters are in “Like a Dragon,” Seong-Hui is by design a beautiful women who is not defined by it. Of course it’s noticed, and half the conversations among the male party members when you first meet her are about her sex appeal, but that is quickly checked not just by Saeko (one of your female party members who I also adore) but by Seong-Hui’s own demeanor and strength. She’s flirty at first, but that’s quickly put to bed as she shows why she is a leader and why her people look to her for safety, protection, and guidance. It is so rare to find a game that doesn’t define a female character by her looks and not much else, and “Like a Dragon” succeeds at this much more than many others before. Oh, and despite a specific job type, the women aren’t wearing bikinis as armor. This doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a big deal and a refreshing and noticeable change for games. They’re also OP and crutch in battle, and I wouldn’t recommend fighting without them for most of the game.

Which leads us to combat, which is perhaps the largest departure from the rest of the series and the most divisive part of the game for gamers. “Like a Dragon” combat is a turned based RPG, fully equipped with skills, gear, MP and HP costs, bond levels, stats, and even character stats. For some, the turned based combat is a deal breaker, and I get that. It’s not for everyone. But it most certainly is for me, as I find turned based RPGs to be the most fun. What makes this particular game unique is that while everyone has to wait their turn to attack, the battles never stop moving. Nothing is stagnant and everything is interactive (yes, you can still beat someone to death with a street sign you picked up on the street, a staple of the “Yakuza” franchise), and your party and enemies move around the area regardless of who’s turn it is. This makes the turned based combat style feel alive and interactive instead of slowing the pace down. I love “Final Fantasy,” but the never ending grind of the same thing over and over again while your characters stand in a line waiting for you to select your move gets old quickly. That doesn’t happen here.

The menus of basic combat work the same as games before it, but the constant movement really helps to relieve some of that grinding feeling you get when you play these kinds of games. You have your basic attacks, an items list for recovery or useful weapons, Poundmates (the game’s version of summons which we’ll get more into when we talk about substories) and skills that can all be used during any and every battle. The skills are vast and unique to whichever job type you’ve selected for your character. Think of jobs as play style assignments. Every job works as a different designation, like support/healer, tank, damage dealer, buffs and debuffs etc. There are a ton of jobs to choose from, and each character has a wide range of options that offer an even wider range of skills. Which job you choose for each party member largely depends on you and how you want to make up your team. There are certainly some that work better than others for specific characters, which I’ll recommend in the tips section. But there’s not definitive “best” as “Like a Dragon” really lets you experiment with as many different builds and styles as you can make up.

Wanna use windmills to kick opponents across the map? Make someone a breaker. Wanna make enemies fall in love with you and become so distracted that don’t even take a turn? Make someone an Idol. Wanna play songs that heal your team, lower defenses and hurl cds at enemies for massive damage? Make someone a musician. Wanna beat someone into oblivion with a ladle and spatula? Make someone a chef. I’m not exaggerating when I say the combinations are endless, and “Like a Dragon” affords players an immense amount of freedom to play the game and use their party however they see fit. The only real flaws with the combat (aside from it not really being your thing) is that because of the constant movement, it can become difficult to land AOE attacks. There isn’t a lot of control over where your characters are at the start of your turn, and sometimes they aren’t even near the battlefield at the time of their attack. This leaves a lot of times where your character has to run across the entire map just to attack, and sometimes they get randomly stuck until the game transports them to the enemies. It’s kind of silly to watch one of your party members stand in front of a bush unable to cross it to attack, but it’s a minor flaw and doesn’t happen often enough to derail the entire system.

Character and Combat Tips:

Honestly, this could be a section all its own. The game is really informative and gives you a lot of useful information, but there is still a ton that is left out that you have to kind of figure out for yourself. For example, jobs aren’t really explained in the way that is necessary for you to have an optimal party make up, so pay attention and set your jobs as early as you can. You can switch jobs as many times as you want without any cost, but know that jobs level up the same way your actual stats do, so investing in too many jobs may keep your characters at lower levels for a large amount of gameplay. My personal suggestions for the best jobs for your party are as follows:

Ichiban: Hero, but make him a foreman for a second so he can learn the demolish skill. You will want this skill to find hidden shops and break down certain walls for gear and items in dungeons. It’s a really important thing to have and the game will not tell you about this at all.

Saeko: Idol. As soon as you can, give her this job. It’s one of the best supports in the entire game. She does MASSIVE healing, has a high MP base stat, and you will abuse the Lovedrunk Typhoon skill that charms enemies for what seems like infinity.

Adachi: Musician. This may seem counter intuitive seeing as how he’s suppose to be a tank and enforcer seems like the perfect fit, but he’s not nearly as tanky as you’d think and ends up not being your main damage dealer. He works much better as an offensive support, and this job is the best for that.

Nanba: Host or Fortune Teller. Nanba is a tough on because you lose him for a large part of a lot of chapters, so when he returns he hasn’t been leveled up as much as the rest of your party. He also unlocks these best jobs very late in the game, but I ran him as a Host for his cold and fire damage + self healing.

Eri: Dealer. We’ll learn a bit more about her in the mini game section, but she’s a secret character that you should absolutely unlock and make her this job. By the time you get her leveled, the dealer job becomes one of hardest hitting jobs in the entire game. She’s the best fit for it too, and you’ll want that extra damage boost when you’re down a party member for a long while.

Joon Gi-Han: Hitman. This is his default job and I don’t know that there’s a better one out there for him. This job is just ridiculous, with hard hitting skills that do massive damage and make him one of the best offensive party members from the moment he joins you.

Zhao: Gangster or Chef. It seems weird to suggest that a former crime boss should have a job as a chef (and the costume to boot) but it works really well and he deals a ton of damage with countless attacks. He’s probably the only party member that doesn’t have a strong AOE attack, so keeping his jobs to these two will help him be much more viable.

Another tip is to invest in raising the bond levels for every single party member. This can be done through battles, but it can only be truly leveled up through conversations at the Survive Bar (your home base, so to speak). Bond levels with your party not only raise your stats, but also unlock jobs and skills. Whenever a blue conversation box pops up, play it through immediately. Don’t skip it, don’t do anything else until the conversation completes. Trust me, bond levels make the world of difference for your effectiveness. Plus, it’s the only way to really get to know your characters, and all of them have rich backstories that are worth exploring through raising it.

If you’ve played an JRPG before, I shouldn’t have to tell you this: stock up on as many items as you can whenever you can, and visit the Romance Workshop often. This is your gear crafting center, and it’s the best way to level up your character’s weapons. You’re gonna need all the MP you can get since all of your skills cost, so the more items you have that restore it the better off you’ll be. Also, visit a recovery station every single chance you get. Because of how long the chapters can be, you never know when you’ll be thrown into an endless sea of difficult enemies, so it’s best to not only be stocked up, but head into as many battles with full health as possible. You can also use all healing skills out of combat, too. Lastly, the level of the enemy doesn’t matter as much as the enemy type. Lastly, the rarer the enemy, the harder they are regardless of what level they are said to be at. Not all level 30 enemies are created equal, like the Pier Reviewer tanks (giant, muscle bound pirates if you were wondering what that play on words meant) who are always hard to take down no matter how many levels above them you are. It’s good to know and the game won’t tell you, but it’ll stop you from thinking you got this when you accidentally fuck around and find out.

Substories and Mini Games

It wouldn’t be a JRPG without sidequests, named substories in “Like a Dragon.” These are pretty straight forward, and function exactly like any other side quests you find in these kinds of games. A few things make the ones here a bit more fun. For one, Ichiban is such a likable, good natured character that you believe him when he agrees to rescue a bunch of cats or help facilitate a love match between a homeless man and the woman working the soup kitchen. In many other games, these kinds of quest feel dumb and out of place for the character. Geralt of Rivia saving a goat for an old woman in the woods never really fits with who he is and what the character is actually suppose to be doing. You do it for the completion and/or the XP, but you never really feel like it’s something your character wants to do. Ichiban is so good natured and kind that all of these things feel like he would really do them. This particular protagonist has a soft spot for the underdog, and genuinely wants to be a hero and help others. So when a homeless man asks you to track down his beloved crawfish Nancy-chan, it doesn’t feel as dumb as it sounds. There are so many substories and all of them feel different, unique, and fun not just for the player but for the protagonist, too.

Mini Games are the biggest point of contention I have with the entire game. For starters, I hate most of them. And I hate the fact that “Like a Dragon” not only forces you to play them in the story when they are unlocked and introduced, but you absolutely HAVE to play them over and over again to achieve a plethora of things in the game. Here’s the thing: I don’t mind mini games that I can play at my leisure. What I do mind is when they’re forced upon me to progress in the story. Things like the Can Quest is relatively easy, but I don’t particularly enjoy that kind of gameplay. So it becomes incredibly frustrating when, in order to complete a number of tasks or build specific gear and/or weapons, you have to play the game countless times. “Like a Dragon” puts an enormous amount of game progression behind the gates of Mini Games, and it is easily the game’s biggest flaw.

There’s also the Business Management game, a game so intricate it’s overwhelming the first few times you play through it. it is also incredibly time consuming, requiring hours of play through to achieve certain things. Things like unlocking the only optional character in the game, Eri. You really need her for a large part of the story, but she is only unlocked after you reach a certain point in the mini game, and the only way to raise her bond level to unlock skills is through completing the game all the way to the end. This is also the only way to earn the kind of yen you’ll need to get through the game. You can sell stuff to pawn shops and fight as many battles as you want, but you will never earn the amount of currency needed to really enhance your party without playing this game. Now I will say that Business Management is really easy once you figure it out, but I can’t get over the forced time investment.

Substory and Mini Games Tips:

Complete as many substories as possible. These quests not only level up your stats and grant rare items, but they are also the best way to fill out your Poundmates roster. Poundmates acts the in game summons, and is originally misinterpreted as a sex worker ad by Adachi but turns out to be a sort of “heroes for hire” service for the city. The roster can be vast, and includes hilarious action scenes for each one as you call them from your smartphone (yes, really). Summon Nancy-chan to inflict poison on enemies. Call your Patriarch Man Baby to silence your opponents so they can’t use any skills. Call Omlette the chicken to lay an egg, make a quick rice bowl and restore your party’s health. There are so many of these options, but they can only be unlocked through completing the substories. It’s worth it, I promise.

In addition to Poundmates summons, you’ll also unlock the Part Time Hero quest, which nets rewards for all sorts of achievements. The most important PTH mission to complete as quickly as you can is the Kappa quest. It’s pretty simple, you just run around taking pictures of hidden Kappas throughout the city. There are 10 of them, 8 of which you can find right after you unlock the quest, and the other two you have to wait until you complete chapter 6 and a majority of chapter 7. I recommend capturing as many you can as early as you can, because it’ll be the first time you can earn 2 million yen. This will come at a time in the game when currency is incredibly scarce, and it’s the fastest and easiest way to get ahead and stack some much needed resources.

Mini Games are essential to your party, so it’s best to complete as many of them as you can as well. I mentioned the top two that probably net you the best rewards for your time, but you’re going to have to really invest in them to get what you need. The Can Quest provides rare items you need to complete Part Time Hero quests, and I already mentioned how important the Business Management game is. You really NEED Eri, because you lose Nanba right as the game gets tough and you don’t get him back for a good 3 or 4 chapters. During that time, you’ll be forced to play through the game with only 3 members instead of a full 4, and that fourth member is crucial to making it through these chapters smoothly. Completing this mini game will give you Eri, Omlette, over 20 million yen plus an additional 3 million yen every time you return to the shareholders meeting. Trust me when I tell you, you desperately need this yen. For example, you’re going to want to upgrade the crafting shop for better weapons, but that will run you close to 40 million yen in total to max it out. You don’t have to do this all at once, but you won’t be able to do it all without completing the Business Management game.

There are a ton of tutorials on how to do this and speed up the process, and I highly recommend you watch some of them because the game does a really poor job in explaining the things you actually need to know. Quickly, the two things that are most important are memorizing the color order and pausing during the shareholder meetings. These meetings work as quick time battles that feel insanely complicated if you don’t know what you’re doing. Knowing the colors helps a lot, but pausing is a lifesaver and has 0 effect on the success of each meeting. I can’t tell you how much easier the entire thing got once I learned that I could pause at any time, check the colors and resume accordingly. This little trick will shave off a ton of time playing through the game, and also help you to never lose a meeting battle.

Final Tips and Tricks

I know this was a lot to unpack, but that’s because there is simply so much to do in “Like a Dragon.” You’ve made it this far into my review, and I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the things you can do in the game. It really is that massive and intricate, and you can spend hours upon hours doing practically nothing and not ever realize the day has escaped you. So, here are some final tips and tricks that will help you as you play through “Like a Dragon.” These won’t be in any particular order, just random things I’ve discovered along the way.

  1. Beware of Chapter 7. The game launches you into one of the main dungeons in the game without telling you, and it is harder and longer that you are ever prepared for. And its inescapable the first time through, so just know that once you start, you will not be able to stop for quite a while. Oh, and the enemies scale drastically, too, so just be prepared for it when it happens.
  2. Talk to everyone you can. If you see an NPC that can be interacted with, do it. This not only boosts your character traits but can also unlock a number of secrets throughout the game. Not all of them are helpful, but outside of the substories the game won’t really tell you what these NPCs can do for you
  3. Take your time to unlock the secret shops. There are at least 4 secret shops and vendors that you can find throughout the game, all of which are extremely well hidden and can’t be found by accident. You’ll need that foreman skill to unlock some of them, but they’re more than worth it.
  4. Don’t ignore Ichiban’s character traits. I made the mistake of thinking they weren’t that important, only to find out there were a number of things I couldn’t do until they were higher. For instance, there’s a secret casino in Chinatown that can only be unlocked with a Style level of 4 or higher. Boost these stats but reading books you collect along the way, interacting with everyone, and if you’re feeling spendy and want to test your knowledge, you can literally take tests at the Vocational School.
  5. Collect bugs and Tojo Clan Crests. Bugs are essential to crafting for some reason (as well completing delivery missions) and the crests unlock a special vendor that has some pretty great items. I recommend waiting until you have about 50 before seeking him out.
  6. Use skills in battle as often as you can. I know you’ll want to hang on to your MP because no one can replenish it without items, but there are so many ways to restore it that it’s best to use it up as often as you want. Plus, they look cool as hell and do a ton of damage.
  7. Spend your yen. I know that most JRPGS are about resource management, but once you’ve completed the Business Management game, currency no longer becomes a bottleneck. So ya, upgrade those weapons, buy things from the shops, give 1 million yen to fight a giant roomba robot. The great thing about “Like a Dragon” is that you don’t have an item limit, so you can stock up on as much as you want as often as you want without any kind of penalty.
  8. Interact with every single taxi you see. You don’t have to take a ride in all of them, but taxis are the “Like a Dragon” fast travel method and is only unlocked by story progression or you interacting with them. You’re going to want to have as many travel options as possible, as the map is huge and without taxis, it will take you far to long to travel to certain areas.
  9. Do as much as you can before you have to progress in the story. I’ve already told you the importance of substories, but completing them before you move on will help level your characters, earn summons, and clear the map before launching into a new portion. Each chapter will unlock more and more stories, and it’s easier to clear them out as the appear rather than wait for an overwhelming amount of them to clutter your map.
  10. If you can, play this game on a next gen console. I played it first on my Xbox Series X and not only does the game clearly look better, it also loads noticeably quicker and has almost no lag whatsoever. I also put the game on my Xbox One S in bedroom, and while it works just fine, it is clearly meant to be played on an X. I don’t know if that’s a helpful tip or not, but its important to note and changes the experience quite a bit.

There’s probably a lot more, but I think this is a good guide for someone who may be starting “Like a Dragon.” I can’t recommend this game enough. It is easily one of the best games I’ve played in a very long time, and I’ve had so much fun playing it I’ve actively refused to progress through the last two chapters because I don’t want it to end. If you’re a fan of JRPGs and turned based RPGs, this is THE game for you. Even if you’re not familiar with the “Yakuza” series, the game makes sure that you don’t have to be to enjoy everything that happens. The story is wonderfully crafted, the characters are interesting and well written, the gameplay is fun and varied, and the game is both masterfully intelligent and wildly stupid. It is hands down the most bizarre games I’ve ever played, and I can’t stop playing it.

I hope you get to play “Yakuza: Like a Dragon” and enjoy it as much as I have.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

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