Like a Dragon: Ishin!  |  Game Reviews

Like a Dragon: Ishin! | Game Reviews

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2023-03-13 16:18:18

Like a Dragon: Ishin! is the transliteration and international release of the action-adventure game Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin! was first launched in 2014 only in the Japanese market. Technically, this is a remake of the mentioned name due to the switch to using Unreal Engine 4, instead of the game engine used in the original Japanese for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. The new version is built faithfully. The game follows the original game and adds almost nothing worth mentioning, except for the ability to use the more flexible Trooper Card system.

For those of you who don’t know, Like A Dragon is the new name of the international Yakuza series. Following Yakuza: Like a Dragon, also known as Yakuza 7, this game series was transferred by the developer to the original title Ryu ga Gotoku or Like a Dragon on the international market with a completely new main character. and the spin-off Ishin is no exception. However, players are still reunited with the familiar cast of characters from the games from Yakuza 0 to Yakuza 6, but with a completely new title and storyline.

For example, the main character in Like a Dragon: Ishin has the appearance of “marshal” Kiryu Kazuma from Yakuza 6 and earlier. The details are still plots and struggles for power similar to the above Yakuza games, but the setting of the country of the rising sun in the 1860s brings a completely new feeling. The player assumes the role of goshi Ryuma Sakamoto who has to leave his hometown Tosa after his respectable adoptive father is murdered by a masked assassin. Although the opening plot is somewhat similar to Shenmue I & II, the later is full of unexpected drama.

From a player perspective, one thing that makes me not know whether to consider the plus or minus point of Like a Dragon: Ishin is the historical context and plot with a lot of real-life characters. However, due to not studying Japanese history, the writer is not sure whether the story is authentic or if it is fictional from the screenwriter team. Not only that, the game uses many Japanese words that are romanized but not explained clearly, making it difficult for players who do not have a certain understanding of the game context to grasp.

For example, the first experience has many lines referring to goshi and joshi, historical terms related to the samurai hierarchy of the Edo period and also the setting in Like a Dragon: Ishin!. It is worth mentioning that it is difficult to establish a common definition due to the actual rank of samurai and the different governing methods of each Bakufu “shogunate” and each clan. In fact, the writer cannot avoid the feeling that the game experience is like recreating Japanese history with many contemporary terms mentioned in the conversations between the characters.

This is probably also the reason why the development team did not dare to bring Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin to the international market for the past 9 years, until witnessing the success of Ghost of Tsushima. In return, Like a Dragon: Ishin! possesses an extremely attractive plot, interwoven with dramatic if not quite abrupt pauses, from the twist to the literal and figurative fighting between the characters. Although most of the plot is told at a slow pace, it is measured and measured in time, never making me feel boring.

That is, I have not mentioned the number of side quests that are rich with stories that are colorful with the history of the Edo period. These missions are like mini-adventures alongside the main storyline, helping to relieve the player’s stress from the unexpected twists and turns of the Like a Dragon: Ishin experience. They contribute significantly to bring more emotions. For example, you have just tried to comfort Souta when his childhood friend and family moved out. Not long after that, the player had to work as a reluctant “teacher” for the old teacher.

Review game Like a Dragon: Ishin!

What’s interesting is that substory “side quests” often give players a lot of opposite emotions in a good sense. For example, the story of Souta is a sad story, but the writer cannot help but laugh at the childish thoughts of the character leading to a very familiar and everyday situation. The same is true of the old teacher. Although it does not bring many contrasting emotions like Souta’s substory, it conveys to the player a lot of interesting knowledge about the geography of the Edo period. There are no boring and pointless side quests.

The problem is, there are many transitions in Like a Dragon: Ishin that are too long, often interjected in the middle of the experience, making the game tempo a bit confusing at times. It is not uncommon for a transition that lasts more than 15 minutes with countless new characters appearing, plus the terms and plot plots that follow each other, making it difficult for a patient like me to avoid feeling long and tired. However, the game plot is not as difficult to follow as the writer’s initial concern, especially when the developer once thought that this was a game that could not be translated.

Partly due to the very meticulous translation. The rest thanks to the in-game annotation feature, which makes it easier for players to grasp the details that seem “mission impossible” to absorb the story more. That’s why places or characters may be unfamiliar to non-Japanese like me; For example, where is Tosa and Kyo, who is Takechi Hanpeita or what is Bakufu a force that has a great influence in Japanese history. All are answered through the in-game legend whenever it is mentioned in the dialogue between the characters.

Although this way of building games is not new, it is the general formula of the games in the Yakuza series. However, the feeling of experience is different due to the Edo period setting in Like a Dragon: Ishin compared to the previous games with more modern colors, at least the first few hours of experience. The later, the more familiar the feeling of experience if you have ever played any Yakuza game. The game even has the feature of systematizing the relationships of the characters, making it easier for players to follow and develop Ryuma as desired.

Review game Like a Dragon: Ishin!

Notably, the combat system in Like a Dragon: Ishin has four styles but is designed to be somewhat unbalanced. The first style is “hands free” Brawler with the ability to use fast attack fists and ‘parry’. This fighting style is somewhat similar to the old Yakuza games as it allows you to grab anything in the environment as an auxiliary weapon. However, after the initial few battles or being forced to use Brawler, the writer has almost no intention of using this fighting style in the later experience.

Instead, playing the role of “guest sword” Swordman gives me the most exciting battles. Basically, fighting in this style has a bit of soulslike color when using attacks and defenses interspersed with the ability to parry enemy attacks to win. This fighting style is very useful in 1v1 confrontations, especially when fighting bosses. The writer especially likes the moments when fighting with swords, while leaving room for the bad guys you encounter in the Like a Dragon: Ishin experience with a kick in the face. How gratifying.

Besides using swords, Ryuma also knows how to use guns and “heroic gunman” Gunman is the fighting style for this long-range weapon with a variety of bullets with different damage factors and attributes. The highlight of this style is the ability to shoot multiple enemies at once, which is quite useful when you need to attack enemies from a distance even though the damage is not as high as Swordman. The harmony between sword and gun is Wild Dancer’s “wild dance” fighting style, capable of both slashing swords and shooting guns, looking very magical and exciting.

Wild Dancer looks quite ornate when performed, especially the ability to dodge attacks from enemies looks like dancing. This fighting style is especially useful when Ryuma is surrounded by enemies or in cases where you have to face a large number of enemies scattered in different directions. Each style has its own skill tree system, which adds depth to the Like a Dragon: Ishin experience and is highly rewarding once the player masters combat skills, creating lightning combo attacks flashy and equally satisfying in battle.

Review game Like a Dragon: Ishin!

Unfortunately, the biggest minus point of this four-style combat system is due to design issues. Most boss battles force the player to use Swordman instead of other options. This inadvertently limits the variety of Like a Dragon: Ishin’s combat. Not to mention if you don’t focus on upgrading to the Swordman style, the Like a Dragon: Ishin experience can be frustrating when players encounter bosses in the middle of the game. Not only that, it is also difficult for you to “plow hoes” to upgrade the fighting style in the main mission line.

Like the games in the Yakuza series, Like a Dragon: Ishin also has a lot of minigames. From simple “fall fishing”, cockfighting, karaoke “clicking the button to the beat of the music”, to ‘Another Life’ offers a simulated experience of home decoration and field fun. The number of these minigames is huge, definitely making you spend a lot of time “rolling” because of them. Of course, there is also “manly bravery” for a fee that is not cheap, although this minigame does not have a fan service element like Omega Labyrinth Life or the Gal Gun series.

In contrast, the audiovisual aspect in Like a Dragon: Ishin left quite mixed emotions. The game’s graphics look a bit old, there are still many remnants of the original from the PlayStation 3 era. The movements of the characters with many movements are still stiff and unnatural. The game has a filter option that simulates images like the Edo period, but makes me feel quite sore after a while of experience. The menu interface looks a bit clunky and unintuitive. In return, the PC version allows to customize the graphics settings quite similar to the PC version of Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

Performance of Like a Dragon: Ishin is quite good when experienced on Steam Deck. The writer tried a combination of Low and Medium graphics settings as well as taking advantage of FSR 2.1, the results achieved quite stable performance with a frame rate of 40fps while maintaining the graphics quality at an acceptable level, if not say beautiful radiant but not dazzling. Although there is still a drop in frame rates in different experience situations even during some transitions, the overall performance is quite good on Valve’s handheld console.

Review game Like a Dragon: Ishin!

After all, Like a Dragon: Ishin! offers an exhilarating action-adventure experience, whether you’re a longtime player of the Yakuza series or your first time in the series. The game has very few minus points and they almost do not have a bad impact on the experience, while the game’s series of pluses are enough to cover the minuses as small as this rabbit. If you haven’t experienced any of the games in this series, this is a great place to start. Even to the contrary, it’s still an extremely notable name for the game library.

Like a Dragon: Ishin! Available now for PC (Windows), PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Like a Dragon: Ishin!
Like a Dragon: Ishin!

Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio


Like a Dragon: Ishin!
Like a Dragon: Ishin!

The article uses games supported by the publisher.

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