There’s a reason this seventh main entry in the Yakuza series has dropped the number from the title of its Western release: the previous game closed leading man Kazuma Kiryu’s story. Yakuza: Like A Dragon is a fresh start in just about every way possible. A brand-new tale, a fresh main character, and a completely different gameplay system. But despite the changes, it’s Like A Yakuza at heart.
Mirroring Kiryu’s origin story, Ichiban Kasuga, a low-ranking Tojo Clan member, takes the fall for a murder at the request of his boss and father figure Masumi Arakawa. Behind bars for 18 years, on release from prison, he expects to be taken back with open arms for his sacrifice. But a lot has changed. The Omi Alliance has taken over the Tojo Clan’s territory, and he’s been all but forgotten. Confronting those he holds responsible, he ends up being shot and dumped in Yokohama’s Isezaki Ijin ‘soapland’ (bathhouse) district, only surviving thanks to the intervention of a homeless former doctor, Namba.
NAMBA ONE FAN
Which is why Namba is one of the first party members to join Ichiban on his quest. Yes, you read that right. Yakuza now has party members, along with stats and turn-based battles. Yakuza’s status as an RPG can no longer contend. Ichiban’s own love of RPGs (“it’ll be a happy ending, just like in Dragon Quest”, he muses in one scene) translates directly into how he sees his own adventure.
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