Second 'Like A Dragon' game I've played.
I feel, so far, these games aren't extremely polished on the gameplay side of things. If we're only discussing combat, that is. For context, I played this start to end on "Legend" difficulty, the highest feasible difficulty ('Ishin' mode explicitly states that it should only be attempted on new game plus). I did 90% of substories, all the dungeons, and did a looot of crafting. I didn't do much of the arena, why? Well, one fight had a foe shoot me with incidenary bullets that literally stunned-lock me to death. Sadly that wasn't the only time I loss more then half of my health from being trapped in a inescapable combo. I'm fine being punished for not dodging the initial hit of a combo, but the amount of total combined damage doesn't really feel fair with how quickly some of these enemies swing their swords. Am I saying this game is too hard on Legend mode? Not really. If anything, this game goes repeatedly back and forth with it being too punishing, and yourself being utterly unstoppable. You can craft and buy some seriously disgusting weapons, like a cannon that will literally infinite combo most foes and some bosses, or the Vortex pistol which shoots so fast that it shreds health pools in seconds. Then there's the trooper system that are special attacks, and if you have the tiger trooper (as in a literal tiger) then that's near-guranteed instakill on a single enemy. Did I mention that some troopers are real content creators (which are free DLC)? One of which is a Vtuber. No, I'm not going to spoil who.
Of course there's a lot to do beyond shoving swords up a ronin's ass. You got karaoke, dancing, fishing, gambling, farming, pet managing, cards, shogi, cooking, and the bane of my existence, chicken races. What's wrong with that last one? It's easily the best way to make money in the entire game, but its of course luck-based. And every attempt takes an agonizingly long time. And sometimes you get those ""fun"" moments where ten times in a row the chicken with the highest possible chances of winning just never wins. Literally gone for half an hour before winning once, but the payout is honestly worth it.
Substories are very frequent compared to 7, which my first Like A Dragon game. Wasn't a fan how a ton of them required coming and leaving so many times. You'd visit a friend, give them a item, walk away, then come back. This happens an absurd amount of times. They do provide a lot of cute, and funny side stories so they're at least worth it.
It's funny how many issues I have with this game, but it's hard to hate. It has some great set-pieces, a roller-coaster of a plot, excellent sound design with stellar choreography in cutscenes and combat, a ton of stuff to do beyond the main story, and honestly quite a lot of heart. You know you've done good when I've invested so much time in your RPG system to want to grind for rare materials, namely to see the great weapon designs. Not necessarily for stat ups. And while not my favorite, the music did its job very well across the board.
That aside, you can spin around like a madman with your katana and your rapid-fire pistol as you carve a path of death, then summon a bear for good measure. That should be enough to convince you one way or another.

Reviewed on Mar 01, 2023