Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Jan 152024
 

Yakuza: Like a Dragon was the last game I finished in 2023, and Like a Dragon Gaiden is the first game I finished in 2024! Can you tell this is one of my favorite series?

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name was announced during that thrilling 2022 RGG Summit as a shorter game that would follow Kiryu during the time between Yakuza 6 and 8 (Infinite Wealth).

While it’s digital-only in the west, Japanese or Asian copies can be played in English if you’re someone like me who really likes having physical copies.

It is impossible to discuss the premise of Gaiden without touching on the ending of Yakuza 6, so if you haven’t finished Yakuza 6 yet and want to avoid spoilers, all you need to know is that Gaiden is a great game with lots of fun side content and some intriguing story developments. You should stop reading here to avoid Yakuza 6 ending spoilers.

For those of you who are still here, let’s continue.

Gaiden picks up with Kiryu, who is now working as an agent for the Daidoji faction after they faked his death. The ending of 6 portrayed this as being Kiryu’s choice to best protect his loved ones, but here it feels more like a threat they’re holding over his head to make him comply. So Kiryu is pretending to be dead and acting as basically a secret agent under the codename “Joryu.”

Things go badly, and soon Kiryu finds himself on a mission to investigate what the Omi Alliance is up to in good old Sotenbori.

The combat system returns to the action brawler style rather than the new turn-based direction, and this is where Kiryu’s new role as a Daidoji agent is most apparent. In this game, you have two combat styles: Agent Style and Yakuza Style. Yakuza style is a slower, heavy combat style based around charging up for powerful hits. Agent Style, meanwhile, is a faster type of combat that makes use of gadgets.

Kiryu starts with a “Spider” gadgets that lets you shoot out lines to restrain enemies and swing them around, and more gadgets are added as the story progresses. I did fall back on regular attacks more often than not, but having some fun new options to turn to did make the combat feel fresh.

There’s also a special counter system when you dodge certain powerful attacks, and I enjoyed using that, too.

Although Gaiden has been described as bridging the gap between Yakuza 6 and Infinite Wealth, most of the game runs concurrently to Yakuza: Like a Dragon. If you’ve been wondering if you should play Gaiden before or after Like a Dragon, the answer is definitely after. It spoils many major plot events from Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

This gives the story a bit of an odd feeling since I had a rough idea of how everything would end up. It felt less like an important story on its own and more of simply showing what Kiryu was doing during the previous game. That’s not to say it was without emotional moments, though – it had some pretty heavy-hitting scenes despite the nature of its story.

It also has a ton of side content. Back when Gaiden was announced, fans were concerned that its shorter size might mean little to no side content, but the opposite is true. My playthrough lasted 25 hours, and I’d bet over half that time came from substories, mini-games, and other optional activities.

The live action cabaret club is awkward but entertaining, some of the best mini-games make a return, substories are as brilliant as ever with a lot of fun callbacks, and there are also smaller missions scattered across the map that give you simple requests like finding a lost item or photographing a specific spot. Then there’s the coliseum, which has several different modes, including a team battle mode where recruited characters fight alongside you (and you can even change who you control as the team leader). You can also customize Kiryu’s outfit, which is the best thing I never knew I needed.

Despite its immediate ties to Yakuza 6 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Gaiden felt in a lot of ways like a love letter to Yakuza 0, and as someone who started the series with 0, it felt almost nostalgic.

Much of the experience felt focused on its side content and all the Yakuza goodness that brings. However, the story ended with some truly emotional scenes, as well as a few intriguing story hints that leave me curious about where these plot points are going in the future.

Click for Like a Dragon Gaiden spoilers
That implication that Hanawa is actually someone from Yakuza 5 is… strange. A lot of fans seem to believe it’s Morinaga, which could at least help explain why the Aizawa & Morinaga plotline made so little sense.

Between that and the Daidoji grabbing Nishitani and Shishido to make them agents (oh yeah, this seems safe), I’m really curious if we’ll end up fighting the Daidoji in Infinite Wealth.

Because honestly, the Daidoji come across as villains even at the end of the game. I want Kiryu to break free of these people.

I had a great time playing Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. It’s a shorter (comparatively speaking) Yakuza experience, but a great one, and I can’t wait to see what Infinite Wealth brings.

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Aug 182023
 

The new trailer for Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name came out this morning as expected.

I only watched bits and pieces of the trailer since I don’t want too much of it spoiled for me, but what I saw got me pretty excited.

(And terrified – this looks like it could have some intensely emotional moments. Please, let Kiryu rest. Let him go home and be happy.)

Aside from the story, the trailer also shows fun things like outfit customization for Kiryu, a coliseum that lets you build a team for large-scale fights with apparently different playable characters, and the live-action cabaret club, which I’m sure won’t be awkward at all.

What might be even more exciting is the announcement that Gaiden includes a demo for Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. The demo, or playable teaser, will be unlocked once you beat the game and has unique scenes that won’t be in the full game. That’s even more reason to be excited for Gaiden!

Finally, while it hasn’t been shared by the English account yet, the previously-announced Fall 2023 RGG Summit has now been confirmed for September 20. They’ll probably talk about Gaiden and show more of Infinite Wealth, but I can’t help but hope for some surprise announcements!

Even though I didn’t watch the whole trailer, I’m more excited than ever for Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name – and even more determined to catch up on the series so I’ll be ready to play it when it comes out on November 9!

If you’re like me and have been waiting for physical Gaiden import news, Play-Asia has listed Asian multi-language PS4 and PS5 copies that include English. VGP confirmed they will have it as well. Now… to decide if I should get the PS4 version or if I’ll have a PS5 by then…

Anyway, what are your thoughts on the latest Like a Dragon Gaiden news?

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Aug 162023
 

A new trailer for Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is set to be shown on August 18 at 4 AM PT / 7 AM ET.

The trailer will be in Japanese, but it’s likely they’ll release an English version afterwards.

It will be part of the Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio TV #22, the latest in their series of regular broadcasts. According to translations of the video description, it will also have information about upcoming events.

To me, that sounds like there’s a good chance we’ll get a date for the September RGG Summit, since September is coming up soon. June’s RGG Summit wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped, due to the trailers having been shown at previous events already. Here’s hoping the upcoming RGG Summit has some surprises in store!

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name will be out on November 9. It’s digital-only in the west, though I’m still keeping my eyes open for physical imports with English on the disc.

This feels like the point where I should say I’m nowhere near ready to play Gaiden, but I’ve actually made decent progress on my Yakuza backlog. Only Yakuza 6 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon are left from the main series, and I started Yakuza 6 last night. Maybe I will catch up in time for Gaiden after all!

Are you going to watch the upcoming Like a Dragon Gaiden trailer? Do you expect any surprises from the live stream, or do you think any announcements will be saved for the RGG Summit?

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