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    Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review – A Tropical Masterpiece

    One of 2024's biggest RPGs nails the landing.

    The Yakuza/Like a Dragon series is one-of-a-kind, chronicling the tales of a yakuza who can’t escape his past: Kazuma Kiryu. To believe his tale could be coming to an end was a real shock during the Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth reveal. An old legend’s story closes out with a grand adventure in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, while the story of a new legend in Ichiban Kasuga reaches new heights. When these two come together, it makes for one of the greatest games of all time.

    Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth brings so much more to the table than expected, and it especially rewards fans who’ve played all the Yakuza games up to this point, including Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. The game expands greatly on the already stellar turn-based combat system of Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Moreover, the content offered in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is immense, spanning across three major cities. RGG Studio is pulling off all the stops in many, many ways. 

    Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Excitedly Brings Trouble in Paradise

    Four years have already passed since the events of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and Ichiban and his friends have gotten their lives together. Ichiban even managed to propose to Saeko after a date. At this point, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth paints a picture of peace and prosperity, setting up the calm before the storm and building anticipation for the fall. This fall from grace comes when Ichiban is framed for shady deals with ex-yakuza in Yokohama following the Great Dissolution. This caused Adachi and Nanba to both get fired as well, leaving the trio needing cash once more. 

    After catching wind of the Seiryu Clan’s current situation in Yokohama, the trio decide to embark on an adventure once more on their free time. In the process, the group meets the interim chairman Masataka Ebina, who introduces them to a plan for the total disbandment of yakuza nationwide, the Second Great Dissolution. His resources even managed to get Jo Sawashiro out of prison, leading Ichiban to his next destination: Honolulu, Hawaii. Ichiban is urged by Sawashiro to meet Akane, Masumi’s old flame and Ichiban’s birth mother. The trip to Hawaii is smooth, but he quickly gets into some serious trouble when he touches down in the state. A dark criminal network lurks under the peaceful haven for tourists, and its a premise that hooks the player in quickly.

    A Welcomed Change of Scenery

    A majority of Ichiban’s story takes place in Honolulu as the protagonist attempts to find his mother Akane and make sense of his firing. Honolulu offers a vast sandbox full of activities and discoveries at literally every corner. In fact, it’s the most detailed environment that RGG Studio has ever developed, as the scale of buildings and roads are larger compared to those of past Like a Dragon games. The game conveys an even greater sense of adventure than Yakuza: Like a Dragon, as Ichiban is a foreigner that needs to get a grip with his new surroundings. 

    The wealth (pun intended) of new mini-games and activities in Honolulu makes Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth feel grand, since there are so many different experiences waiting to be discovered. For instance, Crazy Delivery is essentially a revamped version of Can Quest combined with Crazy Taxi, allowing Ichiban to ride a bike and deliver food at high speeds. The new Dondoko Island mini-game is a tribute to Animal Crossing: New Horizons with an in-depth feature set that allows players to turn a trashed up island into the perfect getaway resort as they please. 

    RGG Studio clearly flexes its creativity and implements refreshing, new ideas in Honolulu. Every activity and substory feels so involved, grand, and high-quality. Some substories even have their own dedicated mini-games and gameplay sequences, with superb voice acting. Since the city is so vast, a early portion of the story is dedicated to one half of Honolulu, while the other half is explored later on. Throughout the playthrough, more substories, bosses, and content fill out the map, making Honolulu a very busy destination. 

    A Big Difference From Subtle Changes

    The turn-based combat system of Yakuza: Like a Dragon made a positive, lasting impression on the community, but it was clear that more needed to be done. Fortunately, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth nearly perfects the combat system by introducing several smaller changes and features that make an incredible difference. This feels like a more fair game to play when compared to Yakuza: Like a Dragon (looking at you, Millennium Tower), but this doesn’t mean that the difficulty isn’t there, either. There’s an abundance of tough and fair fights in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, especially with how extensive the game’s story and scope is.

    Party members can now move around within a radius, pick up nearby objects, and position themselves for guaranteed critical hits, combo attacks, or proximity bonuses that deal additional damage and combos. Moreover, Kiryu’s unique fighting styles from Yakuza 0 and Kiwami are back, retooled and revamped for turn-based combat in the Dragon of Dojima job. The refined combat system makes me seek out strong enemies that lurk in the corners of Yokohama, Kamurocho, and Honolulu. Bosses are much smarter in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, with many having unique abilities that can give them an edge if a player isn’t careful. You can still overpower them at a higher level, but it’s actually fun to see what they can do in battle this time around.

    The new jobs are another really great addition, with intriguing new voiced cutscenes to unlock at Alo-Happy Tours. Geodancer, Desperado, Pyrodancer, Aquanaut, and other jobs offer incredibly powerful and unique skills, which can be applied to other jobs via skill inheritance. There’s a lot more potential in build crafting for a party, since Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth offers a tremendous amount of skill, weapon, and accessory options. The crafting system itself takes many cues from Like a Dragon: Ishin, but its much more streamlined and easier to grind for now. 

    The Friends We Made Along the Way

    Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth places great emphasis on the friends that Ichiban and Kiryu made via the Bond System. Drink Links, which are essentially social links, allow players to glean into the personal lives and struggles of each character. By sharing a drink with a party member, Ichiban and Kiryu learn more about them, increase their Bond level, gain new abilities, and improve their own Personality stats in return. Bonds may also be leveled up by completing Bond Bingo, which encourages players to explore and find points of interest that spark conversations.

    The Personality System is greatly expanded upon, with each stat upgrade improving ailment resistance and granting special bonuses. Personality stats improve with certain dialogue options, in-game achievements unlocked, activities completed, and so much more. These stats are vital toward unlocking certain jobs at Alo-Happy Tours and tests at Ounabara Vocational School. Thankfully, there’s no need to grind for such stats, since virtually everything done in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth grants stat points.

    Those who have been following the substories and questlines of previous Yakuza games will absolutely love the Memoirs of a Dragon content in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. I don’t want to spoil or delve too deep here, but players get to see Kiryu reconnect with old friends and reminisce about his life thus far. A certain detective even helps Kiryu out once more to facilitate these reunions, making for some of the best content in the game.

    New Game Plus Problem

    The elephant in the room is New Game Plus and the Big Swell story DLC, which are locked behind the Master Vacation Bundle offered in the $15 upgrade, Deluxe Edition, and Ultimate Edition. Although the exclusion of New Game Plus doesn’t impact my experience of the game, I believe Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth deserves to have this feature included with the base version. A feature that is prevalent in RPGs and past Yakuza games should not be excluded and/or paywalled.

    With a game of this caliber, I think its a disservice to fans and newcomers alike to pay more for what’s expected in games at launch or in a free update. The lack of New Game Plus in the base version diminishes some good will for a game that’s arguably the most impactful and important in the long-running series fans know and love. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is brilliant, and it’s a shame that the release can’t be perfect as fans wanted it to be.

    The base game offers an incredible amount of content as is, and I personally don’t mind DLC that adds to an already complete experience. I think it’s necessary to call out when a game can become better, even if it’s one of my personal favorites.

    Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is Yakuza’s Magnum Opus

    The story, characters, content, and gameplay systems of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth combine to create one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played. Nearly 100 hours and a complete playthrough later, I feel like I experienced a masterpiece containing nearly everything I wanted from a Like a Dragon RPG. Even with some grievances regarding NG+ and story DLC, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth manages to raise the bar for Like a Dragon.

    There were so many incredible moments from start to finish in one of the most extensive stories in the entire Like a Dragon franchise. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is spectacular, and it rewards longtime fans of the series tremendously. Although the game improves many systems from Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth remains ambitious and surprising, easily making it one of 2024’s greatest games.

    Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth releases on January 26 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. SEGA and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio provided a PlayStation 5 copy of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth for review purposes.

    SUMMARY

    Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is the mountaintop of the Like a Dragon series and a spectacular title that manages to impress from start to finish. This is a grand, momentous adventure that sees players control both of the series protagonists in a story that ultimately shapes the future of Like a Dragon. It's a masterpiece that improves gameplay systems from Yakuza: Like a Dragon while driving ambition in many other aspects.
    Soul Kiwami
    Soul Kiwami
    Raul Ochoa, a.k.a. Soul Kiwami, is the Managing Editor of Final Weapon and a Games Writer at Game Rant with four years of writing and editing experience. Raul is passionate about the Japanese gaming industry, and he's a huge fan of Nintendo Switch, PC hardware, JRPGs, and fighting games. business email: [email protected]

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    Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is the mountaintop of the Like a Dragon series and a spectacular title that manages to impress from start to finish. This is a grand, momentous adventure that sees players control both of the series protagonists in a story that ultimately shapes the future of Like a Dragon. It's a masterpiece that improves gameplay systems from Yakuza: Like a Dragon while driving ambition in many other aspects. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review - A Tropical Masterpiece