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Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review

A vacation not to be missed

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The Yakuza games have become a well-beloved franchise with fans for many reasons, from engaging gameplay mechanics to ludicrous comedy and karaoke mini-games. But perhaps the series' most standout characteristic is how it explores the dark syndicate side of Japan and how hierarchical orders and internal struggles of power vacuums trickle down into society's fabrics in unexpected ways. Even if you're not the biggest fan of gangster politics, the way it delivers its violet melodrama-esque plots will hook you in. So when it was announced that Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth's primary setting would not take place in Japan for the first time, but in the exotic state of Hawaii, I was highly cynical if it would be able to capture the magic of the series in an overseas setting. However, I'm happy to say that developers Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio have proven that the franchise can work outside of Japan as it delivers the best instalment since Yakuza 0.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

First, it's important to understand that Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is a sequel to Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and just like its predecessor, the gameplay deviates from beat 'em up style combat and embraces an RPG format. Infinite Wealth continues to follow Ichiban, so it is quintessential to have played the prior game before remotely jumping into this one, or you won't understand anything. Kiryu also takes a centre-stage role in the overarching story, and in specific chapters, you will assume control of Kiryu, so a good knowledge of his background is also highly recommended. There are flashbacks to previous events in the story, but they act more as a reminder than informing newcomers of what's currently happening. Infinite Wealth could have been more digestible to new audiences if they had an optional intro video to recap key moments from the series.

In the first few hours of the game, you follow Ichiban several years after the events of Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Everything is going well; he now has an apartment in Isezaki Ijincho, has scored himself a job at Hello Work, and even meets up with Adachi, Nanba, and Saeko for drinks on a semi-regular basis. But things go sideways, and he soon encounters an important figure from the previous game, who requests him to go to Hawaii to find someone. Whilst there, he runs into Kiryu, who is also searching for the same person. The pair then decide to team up, and as you can imagine, the mayhem ranks up from there. It's hard to go further into the plot without ruining some major developments but rest assured, it explores the criminal underworld of Hawaii and how political issues like the homelessness epidemic are impacting the state. There are also some violent altercations, edge-of-your-seat twists and tear-jerker moments that devoted fans of the series won't want to miss out on.

One of my favourite aspects of Yakuza: Like a Dragon was the strong cast, as they were a bunch of misfits with enduring flaws that made them feel like almost real people. You could tell there was a lot of thought behind each character's history and personality. These traits still feel true, with Ichiban being the show's star, always wanting to see the best in others, sometimes to his detriment. This time around, we also have two brand-new characters: Eric, a taxi driver and Chitose, who has her own ulterior motives for joining the crew. These two are less well-rounded when compared to the main cast, but they still felt true to the world, and I could believe that Ichiban would befriend these people. A pleasant surprise I wasn't expecting is that Seonhee is a playable character that you can add to your party mid-way through the game. This was great to see, as honestly, she was one of my favourite characters in Yakuza: Like a Dragon. I even remember thinking it was a shame you couldn't add her to the team, so this was an excellent rendition.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

The Yakuza titles have always had some fantastic sandbox environments, but Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios have outdone themselves here, as travelling through Hawaii is absolutely gorgeous and instantly made me forget about the cold weather outside. Everything feels so atmospheric, from the glaring sun, the hustling shopping centre, to the stunning beachside. Honestly, you could spend ages walking around just exploring and soaking up everything the world has to offer because there is always something you can engage with waiting at every corner. It's so envious looking that it will make you want to look at Trip Advisor to see if your finances permit you a last-minute holiday. It really is that good!

You may spend a good portion of the campaign in a new country, but Hawaii's local residents are not opposed to getting their hands dirty. Walking in the streets or progressing through the story, you will regularly get into confrontations. However, due to Ichiban being fond of video games like Dragon Quest growing up, whenever he enters battles, he maladaptive daydreams of being a hero with his trusted crew and conjures up imagery of villains looking very different than they actually are. For instance, instead of seeing a low-life thug, he might see a towering clown or someone wearing a sleeping bag like a caterpillar. This adds an element of ridiculousness, which absolutely fits the Yakuza identity brand.

When you start the combat itself, it's very much like its predecessor, as it uses a turn-based system with a few tweaks. Ichiban and three other party members are present in the battle, and each character can make one move on their turn, from performing a standard attack, skills, guarding, or using an item. The first new improvement you will notice is a ring in which your character can move around before you perform your action. Attacking from up-close or from behind deals extra damage. After you've attacked an enemy, they will usually be knocked back, and if they fall into an environmental object or one of your party members, even more damage will be imposed. This encourages you to play a ring around the rosie with the movement ring, as you will often try to find the best position to get maximum damage, making you think a bit more about your next action rather than pressing buttons invariably.

Kiryu has a distinct fighting style known as the Dragon of Doijma, which is different from everyone else, allowing him to switch between three fighting modes before selecting an attack. Those familiar with the series will know these forms are nods to the fighting styles in the Yakuza series. The Brawler stance will allow Kiryu to perform a powerful attack. Rush will permit Kiryu to attack an opponent twice on that turn, while the Beast stance can grapple a foe and break their guard.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

In the previous game, when you went to perform an action, sometimes your character would get stuck on an environmental object, and this would stop the animation momentarily, whereas this did not happen once to me in Infinite Wealth. Another change I liked was how you use environmental objects in battle. In the last instalment, if an object like a bicycle or chair could be used, your character would automatically pick it up and start whacking the opponent. This was more annoying than helpful, especially in the late-game portions, as your regular attacks would usually deal more damage. However, in Infinite Wealth, you can choose to use an object, as it will be highlighted in the movement ring. These small changes have greatly improved the turn-based fighting system and made the combat so much more engaging.

Levelling up different job classes is how you unlock new skills for your character and get additional base stats points. Some returning job classes make an appearance, but there are also new classes in Hawaii, ranging from the Aquanaut class that allows you to wield a surfboard in battle to a Pyromancer class where you will utilise fire attacks, that obviously complements the ludicrousness of Ichiban's daydreams.

There are quite a few difficulty spikes in Infinite Wealth, so investing your time into the class system is important so you're not caught out. Although it is worth mentioning, there is not as much emphasis on the job class system as last time. In Yakuza: Like a Dragon, you would gain more base stats points for your character by levelling up your job class rather than your actual character. This always stood out as an odd choice, so I'm glad they reversed it. Overall, the combat is far less repetitive than other instalments in the series, and the job class system jazzes things up just enough that it should hold most players' attention.

Outside the main story, there are plenty of activities to interact with, from the old faithful karaoke mini-games to playing classic SEGA games SpikeOut and Virtua Fighter 3tb at arcade machines (you can also play these games from Infinite Wealth's title-screen, and have the option of local-co-op). But there is also a plethora of side missions to partake in. Some are heartfelt, like helping a young lad run a lemonade stand by giving out free samples, or helping a local business owner run his restaurant. In contrast, others are absolutely bonkers and take inspiration from other video game franchises.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

One massive side-mission takes inspiration from the traditional mainline Pokemon games as a professor asks you to capture Sujimon (the enemies you fight), train them, and take on gyms. It's actually rather elaborate, as there is even a type system you need to learn for the battles. Other side missions include a Crazy Taxi mini-game, where you basically become an Uber Eats cyclist, and another is inspired by Pokemon Snap, where you take pictures of degenerate sickos doing questionable acts. All these crazy side missions can sometimes drag you away from the main campaign, but after you've done the initial introduction, it's up to the player if they want to carry on. That said, you will probably find yourself continuing to progress through the side missions because they're so damn entertaining and guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is the most fun I've had with an RPG in a long time, and I actually found it hard to put down the controller. I've spent around 80+ hours with the game so far and have just finished the main campaign, but I'm still nowhere near completing all the side missions. I can't recommend Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth enough to long-term fans of the Yakuza games, as this truly showcases the series at its best, and hopefully, this won't be the last time we see Ichiban and the rest of the crew.

Our ratings for Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth on Xbox Series X out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
Hawaii looks beyond gorgeous and will make you melancholic for the sunny weather to return. There are also great locations to visit, like a shopping mall and a beachside.
The turn-based combat has a few new features, including a movement ring, making the battles feel more seamless and interactive.
Single Player
The narrative is superb and harbours a lot of political drama with many comedic moments.
Predominately a single-player game, but you can play SEGA classics SpikeOut and Virtua Fighter 3tb in local-co-op from the title screen.
No performance issues were observed on the Xbox Series X.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth encaptures everything great about the franchise, from its political melodrama-esque plot, decent gameplay mechanics and bonkers side missions. This is one of the best Yakuza games yet and one that returning fans should not miss.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth box art Platform:
Xbox Series X
Our Review of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is ranked #150 out of 1971 total reviewed games. It is currently our top ranked game released in 2024! (25 in total)
149. Street Fighter 6
PlayStation 5
150. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth
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