Two larger-than-life heroes, Ichiban Kasuga and Kazuma Kiryu are brought together by the hand of fate, or perhaps something more sinister… Live it up in Japan and explore all that Hawaii has to offer in an RPG adventure so big it spans the Pacific. Like a Dragon 8 is the next installment in the Yakuza series that will feature Ichiban and Kiryu as dual protagonists.
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TLDR; My first playthrough was overall great, as the JRPG combat was fun and the main story was generally great. However, the main story's slow introduction and the paywall of basic game features keep me from ever touching this again as well as prevent me from calling this my favourite Like a Dragon game (Lost Judgement is still my favourite).
First, the JRPG combat has been massively improved from what it was in Yakuza 7, to the point where I do not think I could go back to that game. Grinding in this game is also good, as there are 2 dedicated dungeons for grinding and levelling up jobs.
Next, I liked the story, but I am conflicted for two reasons: (1) it takes too long to start and (2) the game takes you out of the main story to explain the main minigames. Concerning the latter, I was referring to how the Dondoko Island mini game gets introduced by literally removing you from the main story and forces you to play the game for like 30 minutes to an hour. This, along with the long introduction at the beginning of the main story, just make the pacing of it feel slow and disjointed, which makes me hesitant on replaying the game, despite the combat and general plot being STRONG highlights for me. Focusing on what I liked, I loved how Kiryu's storyline expanded on his character after like 7 main games and a spin-off. I love how the game reflects on Kiryu's experiences and the direction he plans to take for his life moving forward. Ichiban's storyline wasn't as interesting, but moreso showcased how kind and forgiving he is towards others.
My last thought is that I don't like how difficulties and NG+, which are basic game features, are paywalled. I cannot justify paying 26.99 (CAD) to access what I normally don't pay extra for other games. SEGA has lost some respect from me after this.
This review contains spoilers
Like A Dragon continues its turn-based RPG approach with its current primary protagonist Ichiban and proceeds to evolve it in every way. The improvements of the job system, changing up some exclusive jobs to make them more aligned with the combat changes, such as showing markers for AOE attacks that show what area they cover, allowing you to move around in the field to align these attacks to make them pull in as many enemies at once. This allows characters like Nanba's exclusive job to be reworked to be more directly AOE focused because you don't have to sit there waiting for the enemies to bundle up to try pull them into 1 big fireball and instead can utilise the movement circle to try position him yourself and know how much coverage you have. This change alone could have been fine as an improvement but they proceeded to go the extra mile by adding new mechanics to the battles that really enhanced the experience such as knock back attacks, grapple attacks to break guards, combo attacks with your allies. This is perfect because it supports the use of normal attacks further because you can knockback lighter enemies into allies while also restoring MP a new feature that appears in this game. But what I was mostly incredibly impressed about this title is how they took the character of kiryu and translated him into an turned-based RPG setting smoothly, the mechanic of being able to break the turned based nature for a short time and it become a watered down brawler game was incredible to see but the thing I found the most exciting was how they allowed him to switch between 3 styles, rush, brawler and beast. Each with their own strengths and unique interactions that the player can utilise whenever its kiryu's turn in battle, it fits into the gameplay system perfectly with beast being able to combat the guard system and rush including more attacks, it was really sweet to see.
That's enough about the combat because in typical RGG fashion they create an abundance of side content that is incredibly charming and hooks you into its world once more and many of them including their own little bits of fun gameplay to go with it, whether that's running across the street dodging oncoming traffic as a stunt double or once again facing off with a giant roomba this game delivers in its wackiness while also bringing Hawaii, a brand new never before seen area in the franchise to life. Farming dungeons becomes more enjoyable because of the precedurely generated rooms making random layouts every time you enter with different enemies in each room makes it less samey as you grind for exp.
Personally I really loved this story, especially near the end of it, they continue to write Ichiban as an incredible protagonist and I continue to be excited to see where his next story will take him and the characters he will take into the fold, because Tomizawa and Chitose were incredible new party members that I would love to see more of.
Kiryu's story I was very worried about going into this title but all those doubts quickly faded away the further the game went on, the way he has to learn to find balance within himself by becoming more open to live for himself was incredible. I also think his own personal set of side content in particular was really touching the soul and was sweet to experience as a fan of this series.
Overall I think Infinite Wealth is a fantastic step forward for the franchise and a huge one as well, the fact they were able to improve the previous game not slightly but majorly gives me hope the next title will do the same.