Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review | PlayStation 5

Fight for what you believe and sip margaritas in Hawaii in Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth.

By AndresPlays, Posted 26 Feb 2024

There are representative franchises that have come to define generations of gamers and their attachment to endearing characters such as Mario, Kratos, and Master Chief. And they all have come and gone with varying degrees of success and their due time in the limelight. But there is one legendary icon, at least to those who follow, that is treated with one of the most deserved send-offs in gaming history in recent years in Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth.

The Like A Dragon series, originally known as Yakuza, started as a beat 'em up adventure in 2005, narrating the life and story of Kiryu Kazuma, eventually adopting the moniker of the Dragon of Dojima. Throughout the years, the overarching narrative has evolved from a young but passionate fighter to grand tussles with the government of Japan itself, with the trademark of the saga being its flashy combat moves that stretch the limits of the imagination and a tale that will require you to suspend your disbelief.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, Review, PS5, Yakuza, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed

In the series’ pursuit of evolution while maintaining its formula and building upon what was already founded upon, it controversially changed genres from action to turn-based combat. This move allowed for the game to be more flexible in its approach, mocking and adopting classic JRPG staples in its wake. It also changed Kiryu Kazuma as the protagonist -by now in more than six games- to Ichiban Kasuga, another yakuza eager to take on the world, albeit much more unprepared and immature.

Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth is a synergy of two worlds, cementing Ichiban Kasuga as the new protagonist of the series and giving an emotionally charged farewell to Kiryu Kazuma. Discussing the story in detail would be a disservice, though broad strokes can be made to give a general idea of how it all unfolds.

Working as a direct sequel to both Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name and Yakuza: Like A Dragon, this eighth entry in the saga starts with Ichiban Kasuga, introduced in the latter. Taking the fall for a murder he did not commit and spending 18 years of his life because of it, this new character is quite peculiar, to say the least. For a man working in a crime family as a yakuza, you would think he would be a hardened, untrustworthy, and suspicious fellow; luckily, he is anything but, and that is where his brilliance lies.

Blame it on his clumsy lack of social skills, unwavering faith in people, or just his silliness due to plain ignorance; Ichiban Kasuga is an incredibly likable oddball that quickly grows on you. As the new protagonist of Like A Dragon, he seems the most suited to carry the torch, as all past stories mainly relied on respect between criminals. Kasuga’s introduction as the character makes it seem like it is changing towards hope. And it is easy to see why.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, Review, PS5, Yakuza, Gameplay, Screenshots

He is down in the dumps after being named the Hero of Yokohama in a series of turbulent events that raised his profile to a local icon. Being set up by an unknown enemy and finding himself in Hawaii, a completely new location and for the first time outside of Japan for this franchise, he must struggle to overcome new challenges in a foreign land. Thankfully, with a little help from his friends, the story takes unexpected twists and turns that are a well-known part of these crime dramas.

Eventually, Ichiban is rescued by Kiryu Kazuma, and seeing the character again in this way is a rather affecting view. Aged, with gray hair, and skinnier than ever, Kazuma is not the same legendary yakuza the world is used to knowing. Still, with their combined forces, they search to find a missing person who is crucial to the underworlds of Hawaii and Japan.

The bread and butter of the Yakuza/Like A Dragon franchise has always been evenly spread among its story, gameplay, and minigames. Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth is undoubtedly the most densely packed adventure of all the games that came before it. The game mechanics, continuing the iteration that started with the seventh game, are even more approachable in their design and expanded in every way. Each ten playable character can have a different job to complement other party members.

This can benefit each combat scenario as each type of attack, used in turn-based RPGs, from fire, blade, ice, and others, gives you the advantage depending on each enemy you encounter. A quirky detail of every fight you are in is that, as Kasuga was a longtime fan of Dragon Quest and has an extremely active imagination, each enemy, usually a random punk or gangster, changes to have a sort of monster-like appearance, adding to the ridicule of Ichiban’s unique perspective.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, Review, PS5, Yakuza, Gameplay, Screenshots

All party members can be considered vital to the narrative, as evidenced in the bonding system. As you spend time with each other, your bond grows into special social events called Drink Links, where members tell you about their problems and what keeps them up at night. It is recommended to see each of these scenarios through to the results in a better performance battle-wise.

Honoring the legacy of the franchise, when taking control of Kiryu, once a bar is filled, you can activate the “Dragon’s Resurgence”, an overpowered ability in which the Dragon of Dojima basically ignores the rules of turn-based combat and can freely move across the area and attack as if it was a classic beat em up.

What excels the most in Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth is how well-engineered each gameplay mechanic is. There are dungeons for you to grind available after a certain part of the story, unique abilities unlocked after leveling your chosen job, and a robust crafting system in which every weapon can be increased in its level to hit as hard as you can. Your positioning in the combat arena matters, especially if, thanks to your attack, an enemy bounces to the wall and back, as it causes extra damage.

As Sega, the publisher, has an enduring career making games of many genres, there is a playlist that you can use to curate music on your game’s smartphone. Sonic Adventure, Phantasy Star Online, and the Persona series are some soundtracks available to buy and find across the game to make your journey all the more pleasant.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, Review, PS5, Yakuza, Gameplay, Screenshots

No Like A Dragon game would be complete without a healthy dose of minigames, and Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth goes overboard with them. Outside of the usual arcade filled with older titles such as Sega Bass Fishing, which masterfully incorporates the use of the Adaptive Triggers of the DualSense when reeling, and SpikeOut, the list is quite expansive and can add dozens of hours of gameplay to thoroughly explore every one.

Gambling, darts, karaoke with your friends, shogi, and the can-collecting activity from the last game are some of the pastimes available for both Ichiban and Kiryu. Completing each one increases your personality, and in turn, this enhances your combat capabilities, which can come in handy in the latter half of the game when the difficulty ramps up.

New minigames only seen in Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth are the side missions based on Pokémon Snap, Crazy Taxi, and a dating app. The first, called Sicko Snap, finds you on board a tram taking pictures of men acting strangely. The second, Crazy Delivery, has Ichiban doing wild stunts to deliver food as fast as possible. The last and possibly funniest sees Kasuga showing his dating inexperience by talking to random women on an app called Miss Match.

Finally, when the previous game added an addictive minigame called Ichiban Confections, in which you build a business from the ground up and are handsomely rewarded with a powerful special attack and huge sums of money, Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth strikes with Dondoko Island. If it can be called so, this minigame is a complete Animal Crossing-like side quest in which you are tasked with restoring said island to its former glory.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, Review, PS5, Yakuza, Gameplay, Screenshots

This is done by destroying the trash with your trusty bat, collecting critters with your net, catching fish with your spear, and customizing the island with buildings and decorations crafted by you. With a developing storyline, a sizable reward for completing it, and classic characters available to be invited to your island, it is most likely the most complete RGG minigame to date.

Dated game mechanics such as quick time events that, while they do feel fun at times when facing unsavory bosses that need a beating to be put back in their place, still feel like they’re carrying a burden from a bygone era. It is true Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth is the result of years of progress by its developer, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, but the result should be questioned if all of the decisions from earlier games should be carried over to new ones or if they should stay in the past.

Although Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth gives you all the necessary tools to enjoy the experience in full without having to spend a pretty penny on downloadable content, it must be said that some anti-consumer practices in place have to be mentioned. New Game Plus, a common feature in other games, two exclusive jobs, and an endgame dungeon are unavailable unless you pay extra. Sadly, this is something that the publisher has been getting away with for a while now, and it should not be so.

The developers of RGG Studio once said they were surprised by the success of the Yakuza/ Like A Dragon series, as they are based on middle-aged men working in crime syndicates that go against the norm. It questions what constitutes a classic RPG, like a young hero, has complex narratives with several degrees of corruption going to the highest rungs of government and not easy to understand. It can be argued that this is essentially what the saga does best. Humanize everyday heroes and show that anyone can transcend their means.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, Review, PS5, Yakuza, Gameplay, Screenshots

Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth is a game that asks a lot of the player even before it begins to reap the most meaningful memory out of it. Having to create an emotional resonance with its characters by playing dozens of hours of its previous entries, patience to understand every game mechanic and grind to be appropriately leveled for each chapter, and attention to properly comprehend each story beat. But, if you are willing to go through all of it to live this epic experience, one of the most impactful stories in gaming awaits.

Luis Aviles (@AndresPlays93)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): SEGA
Developer(s): Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Action, JRPG, Turn-Based Combat
Release Date: 2024-01-24

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