Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth hit the stores on January 26, 2023 and it totally blew me away. In this review, I’ll break down the things I liked and things I didn’t get behind so much.
*** SPOILER WARNING: There will be some slight story spoilers in this article. I shall try to limit said spoilers from things we already know from the official press releases of the game. ***
We’re going to Hawaii!
The game starts in Japan but will ship the player to Hawaii. From the our previous articles, this game will have you start in Japan as Ichiban Kasuga a.k.a the Hero of Yokohama. Ichiban has a new life trying to help fellow Yakuza members into the society. An online scandal costs Kasuga and his buddies their respective jobs. While all seemed lost, there arrived a very interesting twist…in the form of an opportunity.
The opportunity arrives for Kasuga to meet his birth mother who is apparently in Hawaii. Kasuga jets off to Honolulu, Hawaii to find his Mom. In a twist of fate, he meets the Dragon of Dojima, Kazuma Kiryu. The two protagonists team up in this tropical paradise in search of Kasuga’s mom and other things. During their adventure, the players will meet both new and old faces in the Yakuza/Like A Dragon Series. Strap yourselves in, because this is one huge journey of a game.
I love how they introduce us to a new map which is Honolulu. This is the first time in the game series that they take the players to this majestic location. A move that gets my approval.
The Wayback Machine
This would be my ‘first time’ seeing Ichiban in the game. Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth gives us a bit of a backstory of his character as early as chapter one. We’ll get bits and pieces of Ichiban’s history through cutscenes or in-game dialogue. But if you’re looking for more, it’s “Kiryu’s bucket list” that is a good example for the flashbacks.
Go to certain parts of the map for Kiryu-san to reminisce on memories from past games. Upon unlocking these ‘core memories’, you will get an image from a past Yakuza/Like A Dragon game. Unlocking memories will also add to the stats of Kiryu and make him more effective in battle. It’s a nice way of delving into the past Yakuza game titles. But since this is a new game, let’s talk about the new mechanics it has on hand.
How the Turn (based) Tables
One of the key differences this game has over the recent games (Like A Dragon: Ishin! and Like a Dragon Gaiden) is the revamped combat system. I heard this system was also in play for Yakuza: Like a Dragon. But it seems like this new game improved the system by leaps and bounds. Personally, the turn-based combat system is a welcomed change of pace. This system gives me more ‘breathing room’ to strategize my moves. While ‘thinking on the fly’ is fun in Like A Dragon: Gaiden, it involved me spamming the drones. Being a JRPG fan of turn-based RPG also helped me warm up to this style of gameplay.
This ‘turn-based’ system is not very ‘stationary’, by the way. You can move around your area before you do an attack/skill. Moving near an object may be used against your opponent for more damage. ‘Proximity bonus’, ‘knockbacks’, and ‘back attacks’ also add more damage.
You will unlock battle mechanics as you progress through the game. Double team (tag team) attacks and a ‘smackdown’ mechanic will be at your disposal! You can ‘lay the smack down’ on your low-leveled opponents and finish the battle in an instant. But how do you get these battle mechanics unlocked? You hang out with your party members, of course!
Stats and Bonding? Yessir!
A rather familiar dynamic for me that I saw in Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth is the stats system and ‘drink links’. The stats system for Kasuga looks similar to the stats system I see in Persona games. When you level up these stats you unlock some in-game perks. These range from status resistance, new facilities, and interactions with key NPCs. The game also has a social links portion called ‘bonds’. As you level up a ‘bond’ of a party member, you can unlock the tag team moves, follow-up attacks, and more. Quick tip: It pays to ‘talk’ to your party members in this game. However, it’s not just bonding with your partymates that’s in this game. You get to bond with these ‘creatures’ known as Sujimon.
SUJIMON (Gotta Catch ’em All!)
One of my favorite portions of this game is the Sujimon sidestory. It is one of the MANY side games or quests you’ll find in Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth. Professor Morikasa, a.k.a Sujimon Sensei, is back to ask Kasuga’s help. He wants Kasuga to fill up his Sujidex, a registry for these strange Sujimon. What are Sujimon? They’re Kasuga’s weird opponents you fight in this game. They range from normal to odd-looking, thanks to his wild imagination.
Sujimon Sensei will also invite Kasuga to form a team of Sujimon for a Sujimon Battle. A Sujimon Battle consists of two trainers in a 3 vs. 3 setup where you can have a team of up to 6. The winner is the one with the last Sujimon standing.
I didn’t expect to be roped into this mini-game/sidestory but I was mistaken. Let’s just say I fell into a deep rabbit hole scouring the map for new ‘enemies’ to fight and add to my sujidex. Eventually, I would even try to get them to be part of my sujimon team if the chance allowed it. And then I’m now in the middle of trying to fight the ‘discreet four’ (a parody of the Elite Four in Pokemon). Basically, I spent a lotta time on this Sujimon thing and forgot about the main game for a good few days.
While it’s the game’s funny tribute to Pokemon, I love how it also has a ‘gacha’ aspect to it. The best part is, you don’t need microtransactions in this ‘gacha’. Also, I have to confess that this was one of the two time sinks that delayed me in some writing tasks. Said tasks include this game review. The second time sink that you may get into Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth is Dondoko Island.
Chill Island Living
As you progress in your game, you will meet the cooky yet lovable denizens of Dondoko Island. In this mini-game you will help the people of the Island restore the former glory of their resort. It might be a long wall of text if I want to fully describe this mini-game, so will try to shorten it a bit. The minigame’s main objective is to get the ‘five-star resort rating’. To get that rating, the player should do certain tasks. These tasks range from clearing out an area of rubbish to construction of buildings.
Like Sujimon, I invested a lot of time and effort into this part of the game. I heard it’s similar to Animal Crossing and all, but I never played that game. Dondoko Island reminds me of some aspects of Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley. Those were two games that I really enjoyed playing. Speaking of Sujimon, they will be helping you in Dondoko Island eventually. They shall be assisting you in a couple of ways but I won’t spoil how. You, dear reader, need to find out how the Sujimon will integrate into Dondoko Island.
– The Turn Based System is Infinitely Enjoyable – I have to say this system works for a videogame player like me who’s into the turn-based RPG style. Also, it does give breathing room to strategize as highlighted above. The JRPG fan in me is very happy with this battle mechanics.
– So many side games to choose from – You will NOT have a dull moment in this game. Side games like Sujimon or Dondoko Island, or even the dating app (Miss Match) will have you drowning in hours of gameplay. It might be a problem, but it’s a good problem.
– Welcome the new school – The new characters like Tomizawa/Tomi and Chitose are fun additions to the Yakuza series. My favorite ‘drink links’ would be between Tomi and Kasuga. I do hope to at least see more of Tomi and/or Chitose in the next Like A Dragon game installments.
- Long-ass intro – Compared to the last entry, Like a Dragon Gaiden, it didn’t get me straight into the action. It was a good ten-fifteen minute of cut scenes that I felt could have been more succinct. But again, that’s a personal take on things. Speaking of personal takes or preferences we got to the next point.
– Turn-based is Not for everyone– It seems like the turn-based system is tailor fit for players like myself. But I have to admit that some longtime fans of the series are still not sold on it. There might be ‘stalwarts’ longing for the old battle system. It may still take some time for some fans to get used to this system, let alone accept it.
OVERALL: 4.75 of 5 Stars
Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth is a pretty packed game. It will keep you occupied from the main storyline to its addictive side games. This game made me wish I had an infinite amount of free time so i can get all the in-game achievements. I highly recommend this game to fans new and old to the series. This game is ‘beginner friendly’ to those who want to get into the Yakuza/Like A Dragon video game series. Dive head-on into this game and have a blast!
We hope you enjoyed reading our short Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is out now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows, and Steam.