Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name Review

Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name Review
Image Credit: Sega.
Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name Review

We all know what we’re in for when we see that RGG Studios logo. We slap on our suits and gator-skin shoes, ready to dive into the criminal underworld of the Yakuza. While this may be a smaller game series, it’s packed to the brim with content. Pick up your microphone and get ready to sing Baka Mitai as loud as you can while you wait for January to come around with the next big installment, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth.

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name’s story takes place during the events of Yakuza: Like a Dragon. It shows Kiryu’s perspective and the events that led up to his resurrection. Kazuma Kiryu works for a faction known as the Daidoji after faking his death. He adopts the name Joryu and disguises himself as Clark Kent. He believes that a black suit and glasses will hide his identity. Within the game’s first thirty minutes, two people recognize Kiryu as the legendary Yakuza, The Dragon of Dojima. He spends a significant portion of the game trying to convince people that they must have mistaken him for someone else.

Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name Review
Image Credit: Sega.

Kiryu keeps getting confronted by the Omi Alliance. They kidnap his handler, Hanawa, and force him to retrieve him. Watase, the captain of the Omi Alliance, desperately wants Kiryu’s help. The Omi buys his contract and starts his revival. Watase plans to announce that the two most prominent Yakuza factions are disbanding to avoid the predatory 3K laws that are destroying Yakuza factions. This will draw ire, and a lot of the Yakuza will try to fight your group to stop the dissolution. Watase needs everyone on deck to combat fellow Yakuza. Kiryu helps build up Akame’s information network in the meantime. The Akame Network is full of side missions and is where you’ll find a large chunk of the side missions.

I won’t spoil this story any further. If you think you know everything this story will offer because you played the seventh game, you’re mistaken. This is a must-play. This is one of the best action games I’ve played this year. 2023 has been stacked with great games, and this game deserves to sit on top with the best of the year. The ending brought me to tears. One can only hope that Kiryu can get a happy ending, but the trailer for the next game, showing he has cancer, makes it hard to believe he will get it.

The beat ’em up combat is some of the best since Yakuza 0. Style switching is back. You can switch between two styles by pressing down on the D-pad. Agent style uses gadgets and precise martial arts to take down opponents. Kiryu becomes an unstoppable super spy.

Kiryu Has Never Been This Cool Before; He’s Now A Super Spy, Thanks To His Gadgets

You get four gadgets in the game. The Spider is a wire that shoots out of your watch, allowing you to grab weapons and enemies. You can also throw and pull them. You get drones called Hornets to summon in battle. They attack enemies or circle you when you block. The Firefly looks like a cigarette, but it is a firework that explodes after some time when thrown. The Serpent are shoes you can use to burst around for speed. They are basically rocket boots. The second style is the Yakuza style. It is similar to Kiryu’s regular fighting style in the series. Strong brawler moves will be used. You can hold the attack buttons to build up stronger attacks.

Brawling As The Legendary Dragon of Dojima Hasn’t Felt This Good Since Yakuza 0

Upgrading stats and abilities work a little differently this time around. You use money and points earned through the Akame Network to purchase the upgrades. This also means you have to grind side missions for points, which is how to gain most of your money quickly. Needing money and points might be annoying for some, but most fans of the series know that the side missions are usually among the most exciting parts of the game.

Like all Yakuza games, this one is packed with mini-games. You can play Sega Master System games, arcade games, claw machines, golf, karaoke, darts, pool, and so much more. There are casinos and gambling halls. You can visit cabaret clubs and gain the affection of female hosts by drinking, having conversations, and giving them gifts. The Colosseum makes its return. You can play as Kiryu or other characters that you recruit to fight in matches. Pocket Racer, which is my personal favorite, has returned. You get parts to build your perfect toy car for the racing track.

Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name Review
Image Credit: Sega.

The arcade games feature an impressive library: Fighting Vipers 2, Sega Racing Classic 2, Motor Raid, Sonic the Fighters, Virtua Fighter 2.1, and, of course, the UFO Catchers.

Gotta have those claw machines.

The thing I love here is the inclusion of Sonic the Fighters. I have never played this before. It is a Sonic fighting game running on the old Virtua Fighter engine.

There are twelve Sega Master System cartridges you can find and play: Alex Kidd Miracle World, Alien Syndrome, Enduro Racer, Fantasy Zone, Fantasy Zone 2, Flicky, Galaxy Force, Global Defense, Penguin Land, Secret Commando, and Quartet.

The Visuals Are Dazzling And Are Some Of The Best The Series Has Ever Seen

The audio and visuals are some of the best in the series. An English dub is in the works and will be added via a patch. The Dragon Engine really dazzles in the area called The Castle. It is full of lit-up signs, similar to how you imagine the Las Vegas strip would look. The character models are full of detail. You can see pores on the characters’ faces. For the first time I can remember, you can dress Kiryu however you want by equipping outfit pieces.

Yes, you can even make him wear a fedora.

The Story Suffers From Pacing Issues In Side Missions, Even If They’re Enjoyable To Play

Like a Dragon Gaiden is one of the best in the series, but it does have a few problems. The physics and pathing in the Dragon Engine can sometimes cause some weird issues. They are few and far between but sometimes produce hilarious results. You know what I mean if you have played Yakuza 6 or 7. The other issue is the pacing and how side missions progress the story. The game forces you to build the Akame Network to a certain level by doing side missions, which makes the story come to a halt.

This game shows the perfection of the series formula, with Kiryu being the strongest he has ever been and the combat being some of the best thus far. At this point, very few characters in the medium can match the cool factor of the Dragon of Dojima. He is too old for this crap and will let you know that with his fists. The story is great, even knowing how some events take shape because it is Kiryu’s perspective of the seventh game’s story. The narrative is full of twists and turns. The ending cutscene really hits home for long-time fans of the series and also sets up Kiryu’s reasoning for being in Hawaii during the next installment of the series. It also has more of a passing-the-torch moment to our new hero, Ichiban, that I feel was missing from Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Like a Dragon Gaiden deserves a place in the top 5 of the Yakuza series, in my opinion. RGG Studios gets overshadowed a lot in the mainstream gaming space, and that should be a crime. They craft great, thrilling crime drama stories and always have great characters and wacky moments that are hard to find elsewhere.

RGG Studios has crafted a great game in a short amount of time. The combat and main story are worthy of the purchase. This also has probably one of the best endings that RGG Studios has put together.

Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name Review
Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name Review
A 20-30 hour gaming experience packed full of a thrilling story, fun side missions, and mini-games.

Written by Mikey Yaden

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