like-a-dragon:-infinite-wealth-review-–-like-perfection

Yakuza: Like A Dragon launched as the seventh game in the series, and it was going in a new, bold direction. We got a new main character, Ichiban Kasuga, and the game became a turn-based RPG. Like A Dragon ended up becoming one of the most successful in the series, and one reason might be that it is one of the few titles from the studio to have an English-dubbed option. The Yakuza/Like A Dragon series went from memes and word of mouth to blowing up thanks to big YouTubers, becoming one of the most anticipated titles to launch in 2024.

RGG Studio delivered a game-of-the-year contender right out of the gate. Infinite Wealth brings the new and old together, and Ichiban and longtime Yakuza protagonist Kiryu finally team up. The other new thing is the location of the game, which is Hawaii. With all of these melting together, let’s see if the game falls short or if it will bring you infinite enjoyment.

Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth Is Stuffed With Content

Infinite Wealth is packed with more content than any of its predecessors. You get a Pokémon, Pokémon Snap, Animal Crossing, and Crazy Taxi in your game, along with several staples longtime fans are used to seeing. Sadly, there is no pocket racer, but that has been more of a Kiryu thing. In the last mainline game, many enemy types filled up your Sujidex. Now you actually collect them and have Sujimon battles. Instead of cute little monsters, you get guys standing in sleeping bags that look and function like a Caterpie from Pokémon. Why would you want a Dragonite or Charizard when you could have Captain Cruncher or Misdemeanor Wiener? The Pokémon Snap-style game is called Sicko Snap. You snap pictures of perverts who are popping up and doing crazy things. Good luck snapping pictures through your laughter.

Image Credit: SEGA.

Crazy Eats has you collecting food and doing crazy tricks similar to Crazy Taxi. The guy who hired you to deliver food has green hair and a yellow shirt. Remind you of anyone? I could write a whole paragraph about Dondoko Island, a parody of Animal Crossing. You clean up the island while collecting materials, fishing, and crafting to build a five-star resort. The only difference is that you don’t have villagers. You have people who come to the resort, and your job is to make them enjoy their stay. These mini-games alone can make your playtime skyrocket. The game does lead you to them, but if they aren’t for you, you can jump out of the introduction. Part-time hero missions also return during the game’s second half. 

Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth Continues The Story From Like A Dragon

Previously in Yakuza, Ichiban and company unraveled a plot that took out a huge section of the government down. Ichiban uses his rizz to turn enemies into party allies at a whim. Within the first few hours, your life is ruined by a world-famous V-Tuber pushing a false story about Ichiban and his friends, which causes all the party’s lives to come to a screeching halt. Ichiban and company basically get canceled. Ichiban, needing a change of scenery, is sent to deliver a letter from his former captain to his mother.

A huge chunk of the story is about discovering that everyone else is also looking for Ichiban’s mother, Akane-san. The questions start to pile up quicker than the answers. You feel like bringing out your conspiracy corkboard to try and keep up with every person you run into and why they are also looking for Akane-san. Kiryu also gets exposed by the V-Tuber, thanks to a betrayal. What will happen now that everyone knows Kazuma Kiryu is back from the dead?

With stellar writing, Infinite Wealth takes you on a goofy, dramatic ride that will leave you thinking about the story after completing the game. The infinite wealth you receive comes from the rich characters and rich stories. The only downside is that this entry doesn’t wrap up some plot threads. Additionally, Infinite Wealth suffers from some lousy pacing early on. This won’t faze Yakuza fans, but newcomers from the past few games might be thrown off by it. 

A Breath of Fresh Air With JRPG Combat

This isn’t your dad’s typical JRPG turn-based combat. RGG Studios finds innovative ways to make combat feel fresh. You can press L2 at the start of a battle to finish the small fights quickly. Kiryu even has a mechanic that lets him break out of the turn-based combat to let you brawl like the older beat-em-up style games from the previous games he starred in. Kiryu says he forgets the rules and does what he wants.

Building bonds with your party allows for tag teams, combo attacks, and follow-up attacks during the battle. The biggest improvement is how useful and viable all the classes are. In the last game, one or two classes were the definitive class for each character. In Infinite Wealth, the classes are also very creative and look fun. Raising your personality levels allows you to go on different tours that inspire Ichiban to think of new classes.

Image Credit: SEGA.

What is more fun than making Kiryu-San wear a Bruce Lee outfit and use nun chucks as an action star? You may not like it, but this is what peak male performance looks like. I watched a hula dance, and now Chitose is a Geodancer. Using hula dance moves for damage and sometimes buffs. Ichiban is a Samurai acting like he is straight out of a Kurosawa movie. I suggest taking exams to boost personality traits and heading to Alo-Happy Tours to learn all the classes as soon as possible so you can experiment to find the classes you like to play. Poundmates have returned as your summons in battle. Doing side missions will unlock almost all of your poundmates. There is no need to summon a giant dragon when you can summon a buff man in a diaper to cry, causing area-of-effect damage.  

Innovation and Quality of Life Improvements Are Found Everywhere In Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth

There have been many quality-of-life changes over the previous entry. A big one is that the pathing for characters in the Dragon Engine has been rough, but they finally fixed it. No more waiting several minutes while an enemy runs in place at a guard rail. I think being able to move your characters freely also helped with this issue. You can unlock a Street Surfer scooter that allows you to travel around a map quicker than running. If you plot a point on the map and press R2, the scooter will automatically drive you to the pin. It can only be stopped if a battle starts. You don’t have to physically go to a taxi anymore. Just click a taxi point on the map and pay the fee to go to that taxi location.

You can also take the trolley for free to get around. Crafting items has become a lot easier due to the map being littered with refreshing crafting items. You can press L2 at the beginning of a battle to end it quickly, with all of your party attacking simultaneously. I think this happens when you are so many levels above your enemies. The side missions are quality over quantity this time, so no more wasting time getting cats or items out of trees. While many games get criticized for recycling animations or locations, the Yakuza series has never had that problem. Yakuza fans are just built differently. The most significant innovation is the new setting, which is beautiful Hawaii. Forget those maps you know by heart and enjoy the new sights and sounds. 

Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth Perfectly Balances The Main Story With Enjoyable Side Content

The side missions are the potatoes to the meat of the game. You can skip most of them, but you would miss out on meeting unique characters and a lot of the fun the game has to offer. Some substories can take a bunch of different steps to reach a conclusion. Stories can vary from a metal musician who sold out and went pop to be successful but comes back for a sick kid before a serious life-saving surgery to perform his metal music to a man being scammed on purpose because he wants to support the woman financially. It turns out he fell in love, and she doesn’t want to scam, but she must repay a debt owed.

They come together, and the man vows to love her and help with her debt no matter what. You can help the scientist you met last game continue with his research on his giant Roomba. Remember how it was a disaster? Well, it hasn’t gotten much better. Crazy scientists need better R&D in this game’s world. The goofy and heartfelt side missions really are part of this game’s strong backbone.  

Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth Is A Treat For The Senses

The music is as strong as ever in this entry. You get your silly theme when doing goofy side quests that sound straight out of a ’70s or ’80s comedy TV show. When doing the more touching side quests, you get your heartfelt synth tracks that sound straight out of an 80s romance movie. When you run through the infinite dungeon, the atmospheric music is probably my favorite. It has this creepy sound with a light dose of dubstep.

Image Credit: SEGA.

Your battle theme is very electronic, with a touch of dubstep. Don’t worry; no one will scream, “Call 9-1-1 now!” as the bass destroys your ears. It is done tastefully. They also have some electric guitar in the mix sometimes, making you feel epic in the moment. Some of the best are just the little, nonchalant themes that play in the background.

A Shoutout To The English Voice Actors

Along with the music, we can’t ignore the voice acting. I have played every mainline Yakuza game in Japanese, but I decided to play Yakuza: Like A Dragon in English after doing some reading online. The English-dubbed cast knocked it out of the park, and even after some controversy regarding Kiryu’s English voice, I decided to stay the course. Kaiji Tang is once again as big of a stand-out as Ichiban Kasuga. Tang’s voice work will easily be among the best performances this year. He just makes Ichiban breathe charisma.

Even though Ichiban isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, you will love him more than people in your own family. After some footage was released, there was a large outcry about how bad the English voice for Kiryu was. I have to say that Yong Yea deserves a huge apology. While I wish Kiryu had an older voice, I can’t deny that Yong Yea knocked it out of the park as Kazuma Kiryu. Takaya Kuroda is a legend who brought Kiryu to life over the years and can’t be replaced, but I think Yea deserves some love for his work. He had huge white snakeskin loafers to fill, and I think he filled them just fine. The supporting cast is rock solid again.

I look forward to hearing these characters return with our silly shrubhead, Ichiban. 

Wrapping Up

I know it is early, but Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth should be in the running for the game of the year. RGG Studios continues to perfect and build on the blocks they already have. With a few more improvements, they might just create a perfect title. This is the closest they have been, and it is a brilliant game. This game slides into my list of favorite games of all time. With massive improvements to the combat, traversal, and pathing within the game engine, it is hard to find many flaws with the game. The game does have some minor but forgivable issues. There is nothing that stands out too harshly. One thing that should be mentioned is how New Game+ is locked behind a paywall.

You can buy the Deluxe Edition for access to New Game Plus for $85 or the Master Vacation Bundle DLC for $20. This has been the case for the series in Japan for a while, but it has now made its way overseas. I think it is highly unacceptable and hope they will reverse course by adding it as a free feature. This kind of practice breaks down the goodwill built up with fans.

Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review – Like Perfection

Summary

Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth retains the the heart and soul of the Yakuza series while drriving it forward in incredible fashion. From the wacky side missions we all know and love to the fantastic combat and gripping story, this is one game you don’t want to miss.

Pros

Solid Voice Acting

All characters classes are viable

Combat system has been expanded

Able to get around map quicker

Strong characters and story

Cons

Early chapters have small pacing issues

New Game Plus locked behind paywall