Now I have done it. In fact, I just wanted to take a quick look at Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name (is there a subline missing or why does the name seem so short to me?) – it’s been too many hours. How did that happen? Well, because the series, with its slightly different open world, still exudes a fascination that I can’t resist.
The fact that it is now called Like a Dragon and no longer Yakuza does not matter, because the principle is always the same: in manageable, but fun and densely populated urban districts, you fight with organized crime criminals, live strange short stories and spend Al at the same time numerous mini-games, including slot machines with some well-known classics, as well as golf, mah-jongg, billiards and many others. You have much more of a feeling of being in a really small world than in Grand Theft Auto, for example. That’s what’s so attractive.
Not to mention, the backgrounds mainly capture the nightlife of the city’s iconic districts with dazzling colors, even if this time you’re only in Sotenbori, a fictional variant of the real Dötonbori in Osaka. Simply compare real snapshots with game screenshots. A match can hardly be closer!
Although… and this is one of the points that really drives me crazy about Like a Dragon Gaiden: Unfortunately, Sotenbori is basically the only place you’re going this time. And if you ask me, that’s also the least interesting place the series has gone. Apart from the fact that the current version of the district is far beyond the technical capabilities of the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series or even PC and basically still looks like the eight and a half year old Yakuza 0.
Exactly: you’ve been there several times, at least five times since 2006. Okay, three times if you skip the Yakuza 2 remake and the second PSP version that (by mistake) never came out. At some point you just got tired. Even the most beautiful view becomes a habit if you pass it every day.
And for me that’s the main reason why Yakuza or Like a Dragon Gaiden loses a little shine with each subsequent infusion. It’s Sega’s FIF… Sorry: EA Sports FC, which gets an update annually, but rarely changes enough to be surprising. Yakuza 3 achieved this when it made the jump to PlayStation 3, Yakuza 6 with its revised engine and the new combat system in Yakuza: Like a Dragon (Sega changed its name with this title) were great.
For the rest, the series unfolds its same formula with such coherence that this vehemence is something remarkable. Unfortunately, playing the exact same minigames for the umpteenth time, celebrating such dirty humor again, or following an extremely wrong thread doesn’t help me much in terms of gameplay. This isn’t the first time I’ve complained about this and it probably won’t be the last. But anyone who complained even a little bit about previous editions of Assassin’s Creed should revisit the nearly 20 years of Ryu Ga Gotoku.
I couldn’t care less, right? Why don’t I try another game that gives me less headache? Well, like I said: because the short game always turns into a long adventure that, despite your unyielding perseverance, simply has no alternative. Where else can you stroll so calmly through the pedestrian zone, eat at Smile Burger and then end up at a karaoke bar a few meters away before having a whiskey on the same street?
The fact that I occasionally kick, punch, hammer, kick dozens of troublemakers on the asphalt or otherwise beat them up doesn’t hurt the entertainment value, especially since I really like the combat system here. It’s the old familiar beatdown from Yakuza and the Judgment spin-offs, which this time has some particularly interesting moves up its sleeve.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is distributed exclusively in digital format and costs just under 50 euros on all platforms. It is part of the Game Pass offer on both Xbox and PC.
- PlayStation Store
- Several optional activities…
- Switch between classic and new fighting styles at any time to control larger groups of enemies.
- Constantly upgrade a group of wrestlers for special Rumble matches.
- …which this time, however, are less organically integrated into the world and are largely known
- It breeds almost exclusively in a familiar location and almost unchanged.
- Lots of boring pickup and delivery services and less interesting short stories than usual.
- The highest difficulty level, especially when putting on the equipment is too easy.
The star is the electronic lasso, which you can use to grab multiple enemies and spin them around or pull them towards you. The advantage of this: if you land some quick hits in time, you can juggle in the air for a few seconds. At the same time, the often necessary evasive step can no longer be performed while running, but only when slowly locking onto an attacker. As a result, both of these things mean that you can take on larger groups better than before without having to wade through them relatively thoughtlessly.
This, at the latest, pays off in a new hobby in which you not only compete alone in special exhibition fights, but also form a team of fighters so that up to eleven people can enter the ring. These fighters can be found on the street, received as a reward after some missions, or purchased from informants, and they all have individual strengths that are further developed through victories.
In essence, this is as mundane as it is surprisingly motivating, but I don’t really care as long as it’s fun! You can even buy them gifts and give them expensive champagne to boost their development.
Well, of course it’s not really new. Anyone who has played Yakuza 6 knows this mix of Pokémon. Except here you fight yourself instead of just tactically moving hired goons from a bird’s eye view.
In fact, that’s the crux of this particular part of the series: you haven’t just seen it all before. This time it is almost exclusively an exact copy of the previous content. The slot race with self-made car models? It already existed in Yakuza 0. A Master System emulated with Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Fantasy Zone, Alien Syndrome and some more? Lost Judgment sends greetings.
Of course, some of the emulated games are new. And for the first time in the arcade, Daytona USA is available, or as it is called due to the expired license: Sega Racing Classic 2. In return, it bothers me that the small stories outside the main thread are much shorter and usually less entertaining than usual.
You won’t trip over many of them while walking. Instead, after certain events, you get a big part of Akame, a young woman who undermines a help network in Sotenbori and prevents protagonist Joryu from pursuing her vital mission for days. That doesn’t really make much sense. She still lets him have it. Oh good.
And exactly: Joryu. Of course, you already know this is former hero Kazuma Kiryu, although he was retired in Yakuza 6 with an ending that lived up to his outsized icon status.
But Sega didn’t let him rest. And that’s why he’s back in the upcoming Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, the eighth part of the main series, which is why Gaiden first has to clarify why he hasn’t disappeared from the scene forever. He didn’t need that. As much as I enjoyed spending hundreds of hours with Kazuma and still do today, the memory of him would be much more impressive if his story had truly come to an end. Sometimes it is better for the dead to rest than for their reanimated corpses to shuffle through life.
I mean… it definitely has its good points. After all, you can not only enjoy the memories in a playful way, but also in a narrative way, when numerous characters, events and various allusions refer to the last years of the series. I at least had to smile when Joryu faced a fake Kazuma Kiryu at some point because previous events were being recreated.
To a certain extent, Like a Dragon Gaiden functions as a kind of bridge between then and what will come in the future. And in any case, it will be the last time Kazuma fights the old style before switching to free-for-all tactics in Infinite Wealth, at least until he has to use his fist again.
“Shibaraku ne tero,” Kazuma says after winning many fights, which could loosely be translated as: “Stay still!” If only he had stood his ground.
Like a dragon Gaiden: The man who erased his name in the test – conclusion
I’m disappointed, but I still love wandering the streets with Kazuma again. No other game offers this kind of escapism; the opportunity to get to know a city in such a way that you become familiar with every corner instead of just speeding by in the car. As much as I like new impulses in the mini-games, the outdated staging as well as the locations and game mechanics, I am also not sick of what Sega repeats year after year.
Unfortunately, Like a Dragon Gaiden embodies this “design” philosophy more strongly than any game before it. There’s almost nothing new here, exploring is even disappointingly boring thanks to a rigid list of uninteresting side quests, and the level of challenge is too low on the highest difficulty level. And I wanted to mention at least briefly that not all fans like this just because they are fans.
Well… you can see what happened with that short comment several hours later. If you like the series, you can also spend a lot of time with The Man Who Erased His Name, regardless of the increasingly harsh falls.
|Like a dragon Gaiden: the man who erased his name|