Like Dragon: Ishin! preview: Yakuza’s historical samurai game

Sega’s Yakuza series, now called Like a Dragon in the West. Nothing has changed for the next game in the franchise, Like Dragon: Ishin!, despite the game’s 19th-century historical setting. If anything, Like Dragon: Ishin! is an opportunity for the franchise to get a little more silly and serious.

But back up. What is that Like a Dragon: Ishin? It’s a remake of a yakuza the original spinoff was only released in Japan in 2014 for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. This was a standalone entry; It’s not a direct sequel or prequel to the main Like A Dragon/Yakuza series, so if you’re intimidated by the sheer volume of Sega’s beat-up adventure franchise, that’s a point. good start. (Although fans of yakuza 0 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon will recognize some familiar faces here.)

the story of Like Dragon: Ishin! focuses on Sakamoto Ryoma — he happens to look a lot like the main protagonist of the Yakuza, Kiryu Kazuma — who embarks on a mission to uncover the mysterious assailant after the character and his mentor, Yoshida Toyo, are kidnapped murder. The only thing Ryoma knows about the masked attacker is his style of fencing, known as Tennen Rishin. Looking for answers, Ryoma travels from his backwater town of Tosa to the Japanese capital Kyo, where he joins the Shinsengumi, a special police force, under the alias.

I recently played the first chapter of Like Dragon: Ishin! on Xbox Series X — it will also launch on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox One in February — and found it as engaging, melodramatic, and funny as any Yakuza game to date. In some cases, the historical context of the Bakumatsu period produced only some elements of the Ishin! even more humorous.

chapter 3 of Like Dragon: Ishin!, “The Mibu Wolves,” sees Ryoma settle in Kyo’s Fushimi district. It’s a bustling urban town filled with street vendors, restaurants, bars and brothels, as well as outlaws and lowlifes roaming the streets looking for a fight. There are also mini games — gambling, cockfighting, even professional karaoke — and entertainments like bathhouses and dojos where Ryoma can practice in a variety of fighting styles.

Ryoma Sakamoto slashes a street thug named Hara with his katana, while holding a pistol in the other, on the streets of Kyo in Like A Dragon: Ishin!

Image: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio/Sega

Fighting style in Ishin! feels more different than previous games, where Kiryu can switch between various fighting methods. Ryoma combines weapons across four styles:

  • Swordsman, a pose that focuses on powerful katana attacks
  • Gunman, allows Ryoma to attack at range with a pistol
  • Wild Dancer, a “flashy” pose that combines a gun and a katana
  • Brawler, bare hands combined with environmental weapons

You can educate yourself about all of those styles in dojos all over Fushimi. There is also a blacksmith in town who will forge, enhance, and craft weapons, if given the right materials. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of swords, spears, pistols, cannons, armor, and other items to unlock and upgrade throughout the game.

Like the Yakuza games of the era when Ishin! When first released, street struggles will frequently challenge Ryoma to battle, but they are relatively easy to take down. Ryoma faces a real challenge during his audition for the Shinsengumi, as he comes face to face with a swordsman as capable as Nagakura Shinpachi, the force’s second team captain (who happens to be trained in style) way of Tennen Rishin). He also faced — but did not personally fight — a man named Okita Soji, Ishin!looks like Goro Majima.

It is in these moments, and in conversation with Shinsengumi deputy director Hijikata Toshizo, where the drama about Like Dragon: Ishin! is its most attractive. Machines go far beyond the leaderboard as Ryoma, Soji, and Shinpachi get a feel for each other’s fighting prowess, bloodlust, and true motives. A later scene, in which the deputy sheriff beats up Ryoma and the mysterious “Man in White” in a mortal battle, pushes the drama even further — with some excellent dialogue and localization. in English adds depth to Ishin!character’s.

Ryoma Sakamoto passionately sang “I'm in love, still in love, still in love with you” in the karaoke minigame from Like A Dragon: Ishin!

Image: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio/Sega

The silly stuff on display in this chapter is also great. This includes:

  • Scene of Ryoma entering the bathroom and being visited by a clothes thief. Ryoma then has to chase the perverted thief on the streets of Fushimi wearing nothing but a belt, prompting the local police to attempt an arrest. he for rudeness.
  • A group of protesters gathered after a dance, a dance so contagious that Ryoma shouted “Stop dancing with me!” just to succumb to the trend. It so cute.
  • Minigame waiting in line for delicious sushi. Where you just have to… wait in line. And then the supplier sells out.
  • A karaoke performance (flute solo) by Ryoma, singing the classic Yakuza tune “Baka Mitai”, in which a stern audience is so enchanted that it seems to develop feelings for our hero and cry sobbing uncontrollably.
  • Ryoma learned to dance buyo — a fan dance, traditionally performed by women — which shows that, like Kiryu, he’s great at tapping into his feminine side.

Ishin! also includes fishing, chopping wood, mahjong, shoji, poker, and dozens of side stories, much like previous games in Sega’s seemingly unstoppable franchise. All of that makes for a very enjoyable experience, quite varied, much like the Yakuza games of the modern era. It’s just of a different time.

Like Dragon: Ishin! will be released on consoles and PC on February 21st. The digital deluxe edition will grant early access to the game on February 17th.

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