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Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review: The Perfect Love Letter to Fans New and Old on the Year of the Dragon

For nearly two decades, the Like a Dragon/ Ryu Ga Gotoku franchise has entertained gamers and transported them into a world that is filled with more than just tales that revolve around the Japanese criminal underworld. Formerly known as the Yakuza game series in the west, the series transcends beyond crime drama and actually explores different facets of life where individuals struggle with real-life problems and concerns – leading to stories that follow paths of redemption and holding true to friendships and bonds with the people that matter in our lives. It’s an everyman’s kind of game that is typically set in modern day Japan in most installments – and it has made the series a critical and commercial success for RGG Studio, SEGA, and the fans worldwide.

As the latest installment in the franchise, Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth is the perfect love letter to fans new and old on the Year of the Dragon. It’s a game that doesn’t require newbies to play previous entries in the series, but rewards longtime fans with a tale that sees two of its main heroes and their friends chase their greatest adventure yet. Following on the footsteps of its predecessor “Yakuza: Like A Dragon”, Infinite Wealth is a role-playing video game that incorporates elements of turn-based battles, exploration, and a series of side quests and mini games while following a main story that sees new lead Ichiban Kasuga team up with longtime series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu in an adventure that takes them from Yokohama, Japan to the island of Hawaii. Together with allies new and old, these two dragons are on a mission that is both personal and familial as one searches for his mother while the other battles an enemy he cannot easily overcome.

Being the eighth mainline entry in the series, Infinite Wealth has a lot of plot points and material carried over from almost two decades worth of games, spin-offs, and sequels that will make it a cathartic journey to those who have invested on the saga since the beginning. Players will see Ichiban continuing his journey to honor his late boss Arakawa’s wishes to see the Yakuza lead normal lives, while also joining his friends in a journey that takes him to Honolulu to find his mom and meet new allies along the way. Meanwhile Kiryu is struggling with his mortality as he recently gets diagnosed with cancer, and takes it upon himself to do whatever it takes to help those he cares for while crossing off his “bucket list” without leaving any regrets behind. There’s also a variety of optional quests and sub stories that add more depth and lore to the series – a practice that has been going on since the earlier games and that tradition very much continues in Infinite Wealth as well.

Gameplay wise, the combat is very much a continuation of Yakuza: Like A Dragon’s – with an RPG style combat system that’s inspired by Ichiban’s love for the Dragon Quest series. Longtime fans who miss the beat ‘em up approach won’t have to worry too much, as you’’’ get used to the turn based system in no time and it’s actually quite intuitive on approach. As an added bonus to fans and specific to the Dragon of Dojima himself, Kiryu can use his fists and fight using the different styles he used in past Like A Dragon/ Yakuza games. It’s a fun little compromise, yet every one of the characters in Ichiban and Kiryu’s group excel with their skills – and you can even summon allies seen in past games as “Poundmates” to help as assists in delivering some crushing blows against your enemies.

Infinite Wealth also encourages exploration – with different environments and places to explore that offer a rich number of shops, side quests, and mini games to play that are separate from the main story. Staples such as singing karaoke, playing Majhong, fishing, and visiting the arcade to play some classic SEGA video games return – with the likes of Virtual Fighter 3tb, SEGA Bass Fishing, and the beat ‘em up SpikeOut featured in this sequel. Other new mini games are introduced too, including a parody of Pokemon called “Sujimon Battle”, a food delivery game called “Crazy Delivery” that’s inspired by the Crazy Taxi series, and finally a new dating app game called Miss Match that features real-life influencers and cosplayers such as Sophie, Naomi Majima, and Lin Xiang.

More than just a game for most, the Like A Dragon/ Ryu Ga Gotoku series has grown into its own global community that has continued to foster and nurture the love and dedication fans have had since the series started with the release of the original Ryu Ga Gotoku/ Yakuza for the PlayStation 2 in December 2005 in Japan. I personally am proud to say I’ve been there since the beginning, and little did I know that picking up a game called “Yakuza” for the PS2 way back in 2006 would make me into such a fan. The games are very much like Yu Suzuki’s “Shenmue” series, acting as a spiritual successor to that franchise and sharing some similarities – yet eventually striking out and becoming its own thing.

That’s probably why I and so many other fans hold the series in such high esteem and standard – RGG Studio has truly crafted a saga that many others can relate to for a number of reasons. Kiryu, Ichiban, Goro Majima, and so many others have resonated with the fandom and have become video game icons themselves, so it comes as no surprise that Infinite Wealth celebrates that passion and comes full circle with its characters and story. This is by no means the end of the saga, and RGG Studio and SEGA literally have an “Infinite Wealth” of other tales and possibilities to explore (in fact even our own country could be a location visited in future games!). Rather this is a grand celebration of everything that has made this franchise into one of the best-selling Japanese video game franchises today. Much like our heroes of the story they have risen beyond their difficulties and circumstances, and have found the essence and power to fight for what they love and believe in… Like A Dragon.

Perfect 10/10

Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth is NOW AVAILABLE for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC via Steam.