Kazuma Kiryu may have faked his death and quietly walked away from a life of street brawls, tense hostage situations, and mini-games galore at the end of Yakuza 6. But an iconic character like that will never be shelved for too long. With the Yakuza series retitled to more closely match the Japanese translation, Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name has roped in Kiryu for one last simple job. And we all know how well “one last simple jobs” tend to go. Even though it was a bit disappointing that my playthrough strayed away from details of the main story arc, what I did see strongly justified bringing our boy out of retirement for another go-around.
Now working under the codename Joryu, our badass protagonist is tasked with a basic security gig that goes wrong, spiraling into a whole new story in the criminal underworld of Japan. Leaving the streets of the fictional Kamurocho, Tokyo, this new spinoff entry heads to Osaka, Yokohama, and the Castle – a container ship in the middle of the ocean fully decked out as a casino where anything and everything goes.
Like a Dragon: The Man Who Erased His Name – Screenshots
The Castle, featuring the centerpiece of a full-sized replica of Osaka Castle, was the only area available in my playthrough, which flew by as I canvassed the deck full of bright lights, loitering people, and seedy distractions. Immediately upon entering the Castle, Joryu got jumped by a not-small group of guys questioning whether or not he belongs there, and he proved his qualifications with his fists and new gadgets in a throw-down. This was my introduction to the two fighting modes in Like a Dragon Gaiden: the classic Yakuza style where powerful punches and leg sweeps rule, and the James Bond-esque Agent style where Joryu has four handy, on-brand gadgets at his disposal.
It’s easy enough getting a handle on deploying these AI combat drones, rocket-propelled shoes, bombs that look like cigarettes, and lasso wires, and they add a satisfying touch when Joryu’s faced with an impossible matchup. Tossing out wires can wrangle a horde of bad dudes which Joryu can fling around like air before smashing their faces in with a close-up, slow-motion finishing blow.
Once I fought my way into the Castle, it was time to experience the ship’s many delights, including darts and tables of high-stakes poker, black jack, and Koi, which are still as much of an addicting time-suck as fans of the series will remember. Similarly, the Cabaret has made its grand return, featuring live-action footage of women who auditioned for hostess roles. I spent time with Kaname, building up relationship points with Joryu’s suaveness and gifting her presents before my time was up and I was kicked back to the curb.
Next I visited the boutique, where I could customize Joryu’s outfits for the first time in the series, and it did not disappoint. Pretty much every piece of clothing is customizable, from a wide selection of headwear and glasses, makeup, shoes, and even little pins or a boutonniere. Whichever getup makes the cut — whether it’s classy, tough as nails, or ridiculous — it’s mandatory to preview the picks in a short clip that hilariously sends Joryu down a spotlit runway, striking a pose at the end.
Having put Joryu in a latex bodysuit, steel-tipped shoes, facepaint, and a straw hat straight out of One Piece, I headed to the Coliseum, the Castle’s centerpiece for solo or team timed cage matches. Besides Joryu, the novel lineup of fighters pulls deep from the series to include familiar faces and even the likes of a man with a sheep head, referencing a movie from a minigame in Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Given that options range from a basic brawl to fighting 100 guys at a time, the Coliseum has endless opportunities to hone both fighting styles and rack up huge chunks of change to spend later.
My time spent in the Castle was fun, no doubt, but it left me wanting more — in a good way. This taste of action and minigames had me excited for the main storyline, especially after watching the drama unfold in the trailers Sega has released so far. What else is waiting for Joryu on the other side of a code name? Seemingly a lot of life-or-death battles, and a lot of cigarettes.