When Yakuza 6 ended, I was pissed. I’ve been following Kazuma Kiryu’s exploits for years and for his story end on such a lame note…well, it infuriated me. A part of me still held out hope that he’d return though…and somebody at SEGA’s Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios seems to agree because Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name sees Kiryu back in the saddle.
So, does a return to old school Yakuza gameplay mean anything?
Is the game good?
Find out by reading on.
What is Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name?
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is a 3D action adventure game with RPG elements set in SEGA’s Yakuza (now known as Like a Dragon) universe. Developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios and published by SEGA, it’s available right now on the PC, Playstation and Xbox consoles.
Our review copies were awesomely provided by SEGA.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is pretty much an epilogue to Yakuza 6 and takes place just a during the events of Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Having faked his death at the end of Yakuza 6, Kazuma Kiryu now works for a shadowy organization called the Daijoji.
Assuming the name Joryu, Kiryu handles assignments for the organization, in exchange for room and board, and security for the orphanage he used to run. Things take a turn for the hectic when Kiryu’s found out to be alive by a Yakuza family and everything starts to spiral out of control from there.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name isn’t exactly a true sequel to Yakuza: Like a Dragon, but it does take place concurrently (and even a few days earlier) alongside Ichiban Kasuga’s hijinks. Playing Yakuza: Like a Dragon isn’t required but you do see the fallout from the events in that game in this one.
SEGA should put a huge disclaimer when you’re starting the game that knowledge of past Yakuza games (and the Judgement series spinoffs) would make Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name much more enjoyable.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name references so much from the previous titles that somebody who has zero knowledge of the games will be lost. The game doesn’t do a great job of explaining Kiryu’s motivations; it’s all glossed over and only lightly touched upon. Why is the Sunshine orphanage so important? Who is Nishikiyama or Haruka? Why is Kiryu called the Dragon of Dojima?
Not an issue for fans, but newcomers will be left wondering.
In fact, I’d say that Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is more a fanservice game than a true Yakuza title. It’s filled with callbacks to everything from Yakuza 0 to what Lost Judgement, which is to say the whole series.
At the same time, it barely adds much to the lore at all…because the game’s really short.
If you blaze through the story missions, you can finish Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name in less than a day.
Thankfully, there’s a ton of optional content, including arena fights, gambling and arcade games. Pretty much everything that’s been in past Yakuza games, with the exception of the hostess bar management.
There’s also a new game mechanic called the Akame Network in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.
The Network offers Kiryu optional missions (which lets you meet up with guest appearances from old school Yakuza characters and even a couple of guys from Judgement), a shop to redeem Akame Network points (which you get by doing the missions) and optional deliveries.
First off, the Akane Network side stories are some of the most involved in all of the Yakuza series. Some of them actually take quite a while to accomplish.
As a whole, they’re the highlight of Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. The stories are kooky, kitschy, funny and even heartwarming at times. Just what you’d expect from the series. This is RGG Studios at their best.
Unfortunately, the delivery missions are lame.
Basically, there are people on the streets of Sotenbori (a riff of Osaka’s Dotonbori) who have items they want you to bring them. All you have to do is hand over those items. Most of the time, it’s food or other stuff you can get from the game’s various stores.
It’s really boring optional content.
I just went to all the stores in the game and bought everything they sold, and then ran right up to each person and gave them what they wanted. It takes zero effort or creativity. You don’t even need to remember what they ask you for, since you pretty much have everything from the stores with you.
It’s only during the latter requests that things start to get harder to obtain. Even then though, as long as you’re diligent, you can always get what they want from the coin lockers or via the Castle.
The rewards for raising the Akame Network’s reputation level.
You do this but completing Akame missons and miscellaneous stuff but apart from the first 10 levels, the rest of the rewards suck. There are 30 levels to raise, most of them net you nothing but cash. In fact, levels 20 – 30 get you ZERO unlocks at all, just money.
Why have those 10 levels then?! What’s the damn point? Once you unlock the Coliseum battles, cash is basically useless. You can just grind the battles for millions of yen a pop if you need money.
Couldn’t the developers added in something to reward us?
Overpowered equipment perhaps? Extra clothing options? Hidden playable characters (Akira Yuki or Jacky Bryant would fit right in with the Yakuza series) for the Coliseum? This is similar to the CP system from Yazuka games past, but the CP system unlocks a whole boatload of goodies!
Apart from the content, most of the game will be spent brawling.
Fighting is back to being in real time, instead of turn-based. Kiryu now only has 2 different fighting styles (Agent and Yakuza). The Agent style relies on gadgetry (like rocket boots, drones and web-like strands) and the Yakuza style relies on brute force.
The Agent style is cool, but even when beefed up, rather underwhelming. It doesn’t have a lot of power, which is the biggest issue. Scratch that, the biggest issue are the people you fight.
While the brawling is fun, the enemy AI is, simply put, cheap.
Bosses and elite enemies in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name barely react to your hits, can shrug off even your most powerful blows and have invincibility frames up the wazoo. It can make fights very frustrating…and repetitive.
You’ll soon find the best way to fight is just to throw out a few normal punches to bait out an attack, then dodge and punch a couple more times. Repeat. It’s boringly effective and I took out bosses from the regular game and in the optional Coliseum battles the same way.
Forget about using the Agent’s fancy gadgets, because they either don’t work (or take too much effort to use) on the elite baddies or bosses. Even when they do work, the gadgets just get in the way because they take too long too activate and aren’t really fun (other than the energy webs) to use.
To that end, the Agent fighting style is pretty much useless, even when you’ve powered up the skills.
It’s a shame because Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name offers the best fights in the series yet. Fights in the game can involve a TON of enemies and allies and can get insane! The whole screen can be filled with people fighting! I’ve played all the Yakuza games (please remake Yakuza: Dead Souls SEGA!) and this game has hands down, the biggest brawls of them all!
Oh yeah, enemies are now able to do ultimate attacks, which make them glow red. The only way to avoid that is to dodge with RB + A. If timed right, you’ll parry the attack and allow Kiryu to counter if you hit B immediately.
It’s a shallow mechanic honestly, as there’s no timing required for the dodge. All I do is mash RB + A and as long as I’m in range, Kiryu will deflect and counter no problem.
In the Coliseum, you can even participate in these massive team fights called the Hell Team Rumble.
You can recruit up to 10 other members for the Joryu Clan and then take part in team fights. Your members level up and get stronger, have their own special moves and you can even use control them if you prefer.
The best part is the fighters are mostly from past Yakuza games, so the fanservice here is top tier!
Visually, Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is a looker.
As always, I tested the PC version with our gaming rig.
The specs are as listed below:
– MSI B550M Mortar WIFI
– AMD Ryzen 9 5900X with NZXT Kraken X73 RGB Liquid Cooler
– MSI GeForce RTX 3080Ti Suprim X 12GB
– Teamgroup T-Force Dark Z DDR4 RAM (16GB x 4 @ 3600MHz)
– Samsung 980 PRO 2TB SSD
– Corsair RM850x PSU
– Lian Li LANCOOL III RGB case
On the PC, Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name supports DLSS, XESS or AMD FSR which is great no matter how you cut it.
I tried playing the game without any form of DLSS (4K, 60FPS and everything at max settings) and while it’s smooth 90% of the time, there are instances where the framerate noticeably drops.
With DLSS, the drops are pretty much eliminated and with no discernible visual hit.
On consoles, there aren’t any graphical options though the game looks and runs great. The console versions seems to run much smoother than the PC version on my 4K display so you’re not really missing out if you don’t play on the PC.
The PC and PS5 versions of Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name play without any issues otherwise…though the same can’t be said for the the Xbox Series X version. It is the flakiest of the bunch.
I had zero issues with all other versions of the game, but I had 3 different crashes (all back to the Xbox dashboard) on the Xbox Series X version whenever I muddled around with the HDR settings. I don’t know why it’s an issue but it is.
Will it be patched?
Probably, but it’s an issue now that HDR display users should know about it.
The Bottom Line.
As much as I’m thankful to RGG Studios for giving Kiryu a last solo hurrah (for now at least), the series deserves better. While Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is fun, it’s a mere shadow of a full release Yakuza title.
Two fighting styles for Kiryu doesn’t really cut it, especially when the Agent style is pretty useless. The Akame Network rewards are horrifyingly crap and the lack of a proper minigame (like the hostess management one) makes the game have very little replay value. That’s before you even consider the short plot length.
There’s a ton Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name does right (the fights are still insanely fun) and the Castle’s Coliseum is great but I just wish there’s more actual meat to the game. The game also has the best ending in the series and I bet there’s no fan At least we do find out why Kiryu is in Hawaii for Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth.
Thankfully, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is coming in just two short months so Yakuza fans won’t have long to wait to forget Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. In the meantime, if you really want to play a good Like a Dragon spinoff, might I suggest Like a Dragon: Ishin! instead?
A decent Like a Dragon game for series fans but lacking in length and content.
- Fights can have a massive amount of people.
- Fanservice galore for hardcore fans.
- Smooth performance on PC and consoles.
- Kazuma Kiryu is the manliest man you’ll ever find.
- Story is too short and unsatisfying.
- Combat could be much better.
- Akame Network rewards are crap.
- Plot and references will be confusing to newcomers.