After finishing the thrilling story of Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, I absolutely needed to continue my journey in the Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Special Trial Version. Although the game isn’t out until January, the Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Special Trial Version gives a rich tease of what’s to come.
I was quickly impressed the moment Ichiban Kasuga and Kazuma Kiryu set foot in Hawaii since it alludes to the sheer scale of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. I had a similar feeling exploring Yokohama for the first time in Yakuza: Like a Dragon just a few years ago, but the uncanny nature of being in Hawaii makes Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth feel like an adventure of a lifetime. From the few story missions that were present, it’s clear that the full game is going to be a serious rollercoaster.
A Glimpse of the Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Story
The Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Special Trial Version includes two demos: the Story Demo and the Hawaii Demo. Unsurprisingly, I decided to take a look at the Story demo first after being fresh off the heels of Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name’s ending. I was surprised by how this demo links the ending of Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name to a particular point in Infinite Wealth’s story.
As shown in the Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth trailer from RGG Direct, Ichiban pursues leads on the whereabouts of his mother, Akane. Kiryu is searching for Akane for a completely different reason, bringing both of the Like a Dragon series protagonists to Honolulu. Moreover, the Story demo adds more context toward Ichiban and Kiryu’s goals in Hawaii, which intertwine quite nicely as players explore Honolulu and complete a few story objectives.
Highly Improved Turn-Based Gameplay
The leap from Yakuza: Like a Dragon to Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is massive due to many gameplay improvements. The Story and Hawaii demos allow players to enjoy the turn-based combat to their hearts’ content, but I recommend starting with the Hawaii demo since it introduces the game’s combat right away.
The turn-based combat system is back and better than ever with additional features and indicators. For example, players can now move party members within a certain radius, and that radius may expand or retract under various circumstances. Moreover, each attack now displays direction, the area of effect, and potential bonuses based on positioning. I also noticed that the activation of attack button prompts is now more responsive, allowing Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth players to easily recognize when to press a button to get more damage out of an attack.
One of my favorite aspects of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is Kiryu’s Dragon of Dojima class, which includes the Brawler, Rush, and Beast fighting styles from Yakuza 0. These styles affect how Kiryu attacks on the field, including the overall radius and amount of times he can attack in a single turn. Kiryu can even enter his signature Extreme Heat mode, which changes the combat system to the traditional Yakuza beat ’em up for a brief duration.
Status effects and elements from Yakuza: Like a Dragon return, but there’s more nuance this time around when it comes to Ichiban’s abilities. The demo doesn’t provide enough XP sources to level up a notable amount of Ichiban’s Personality stats, but it’s clear the stat system has been vastly expanded upon. Ichiban will be able to earn XP for each Personality category, raising his status aliment resistance and offering a number of bonuses.
A Wealth of Features and Content
Unsurprisingly, the Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Special Trial Version focuses on introducing players to the city of Honolulu and its many pieces of side content. Although a few mini-games are out of reach, the demos offer a wide array of mini-games to play such as Karaoke, Crazy Delivery, Darts, and Sicko Snap. Three substories are also available to complete, and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of English voice acting given for these activities. English voice overs feel just right with Ichiban’s journey actually taking him to the US this time, but the English sub will be just as stellar.
Like many other features in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, the game greatly expands the Bonds system as well. Bond conversations are present over Honolulu, and completing such a conversation will check off one of the spaces on the all-new Bonds Bingo card. This allows players to learn more about each character such as their favorite food, life goals, and hobbies. This will likely come into play with Bond events in the full game, so I’m personally excited to see how each character grows outside of the main story.
Instead of going to Hello Work, Ichiban and his crew will go to Aloha Tours in order to change their class. Only one of these tours is available in the Hawaii demo, but the tour itself includes a very special scene that unlocks a new job for every single character. RGG Studio seemingly streamlined the process of unlocking jobs while providing additional scenes, so I’m looking forward to what else these Aloha Tours can bring.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is Extremely Expansive and Promising
It’s safe to say that Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth will be the largest game RGG Studio has ever produced, and the main story will be equally lengthy. I was already excited and curious about Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, and playing through Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name doubled that excitement and curiosity due to its own implications. Moreover, the Special Trial Version shows that RGG Studio took feedback from Yakuza: Like a Dragon to refine and improve the turn-based gameplay that captivated new and returning fans. The game’s new features, activities, and gameplay improvements certainly look to create a new standard for the Like a Dragon franchise.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth launches on January 26, 2024 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam.