La Yakuza review: Like a Dragon to PS5 allowed us to return to the fascinating scenarios of the last episode of the series SEGA, which as you know has cut ties with the past from various points of view: a new protagonist, a new main setting and a jRPG-style turn-based combat system have been introduced that replaces the historical (and still very valid!) action approach brawler.
It is also the first chapter of Yakuza spoken not only in Japanese but also in English (complete with synchronized lip) and subtitled in Spanish: an element not to be underestimated for those who had always wanted to approach the franchise but were held back by the language barrier. Here, now there are no more excuses: Like a Dragon represents a new beginning for you too.
Let's start immediately with the most relevant aspects of the version PlayStation 5 by Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which compared to the PS4 edition can boast some important technical improvements. There are in fact two graphic modes that allow, at any time, to run the game at 4K real and 30 fps or at 1440p e 60 fps.
It takes just a few minutes to understand how the second option is substantially superior to the first: visiting the Yokohama virtual title developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio is much more enjoyable where you can enjoy 60 frames, and the sacrifices in terms of detail appear genuinely negligible to the naked eye.
Of course, it is a pity that the greater fluidity cannot be put at the service of an action combat system, also based on timing and precision, like that of the previous episodes of the series, but it is a purely personal consideration. Really instant i uploads: The super fast NVMe SSD of the Sony console makes the difference compared to the mechanical disk of the PS4, there is no doubt.
It is therefore really a shame that while offering a free upgrade for owners of the game on PlayStation 4, Yakuza: Like a Dragon for PS5 does not recognize the old bailouts and therefore forces us to start the long campaign all over again. It is not a problem for those who buy the game now, but those who may have interrupted it in the middle to be able to complete it on the new console will have a nasty surprise.
Ichiban Kasuga and the protagonist by Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Raised in a Kamurocho soapland and soon ended up in bad turns, he is literally saved by the patriarch of the Arakawa family, whom the boy sees as a father but who one day asks him to sacrifice himself for the good of the clan, taking responsibility for a murder. which he did not commit.
Ichiban willingly accepts, but when he gets out of prison, eighteen years later, he is faced with an unexpected situation: the Clan Tojo was swept away, the most feared Omi alliance he took control of the city and his former boss adjusted to the situation, betraying his ideals and the sacrifice himself made by his devoted subordinate. When Ichiban asks for an explanation, Arakawa even shoots him.
Awakening in Isezaki Ichijo, in Yokohama, the man discovers that someone has healed his wounds, saving his life: it is Yu Nanba, a homeless former nurse who welcomes him to his shelter. It is the beginning of a new life for Ichiban, who tries to leave the past behind and build a future in the new city, together with Nanba but also with the former policeman Koichi adachi and the bartender Saeko Mukuoda.
What Ichiban still doesn't know is that there is a reason why he was brought to Yokohama, and the fake banknote someone put in his pocket tells part of the history. Determined to understand what Arakawa has to do with all this and what really happened to his old clan, the protagonist of Yakuza: Like a Dragon will not stop fighting.
The new setting of Yokohama represents an interesting novelty for the series, given that we are talking about a scenario that is about three times the size of Kamurocho and in any case not the only location that we will be able to visit during the campaign, characterized by a duration equal to no less than 40 hours and from a narrative here too intense, engaging, rich twists and well-drawn characters.
The series' traditional sandbox-style structure boasts tons of it side activities and minigame with which we can try our hand at will, come on SEGA Club with their coin-ops (in this case Out Run, Space Harrier, Fantasy Zone, Super Hang-On, Virtua Fighter 2 and Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown) to collecting cans in the running, from karaoke to frantic go kart races , from batting center to shogi matches, passing through the fascinating management activity in which Ichiban gets involved from a certain point in history: for more details, check out our review of Yakuza: Like a Dragon for PS4.
If in terms of exploration and interaction, a clear continuity has been maintained with respect to the past, while proposing scenarios that have never been so wide and accessible, as mentioned is the new combat system to strongly characterize this chapter, with the introduction of turn-based battles jRPG style and all that revolves around that approach, including the inevitable need to go around grinding when certain bosses turn out to be too strong.
Our opinion has not changed in recent months: it is a pity that the developers have given up on such a solid and well-built action system, which could have been made more interesting simply by resorting to action RPG mechanics. The strategy-based duels work discreetly and can count on the great thickness of the job system, with its many facets, but when you have such a well-constructed narrative in charging emotions in view of a fight then it becomes a setback not to be able to lead your hands as in the past.
Il Dragon Engine presents itself in Yakuza: Like a Dragon in its best form, thanks to a substantially improved lighting system, which finally eliminates the historical flatness of daytime landscapes and makes evening views even more fascinating, when walking through the center of Yokohama surrounded by club signs, with the Ferris wheel spinning in the distance.
The new setting is definitely the highlight of the game, and as mentioned seeing it move at 60 fps on PS5 is a feast for the eyes (below you will find a video that we have captured to put in comparison the two graphic modes), but also the characters are not joking: the polygonal models of the cutscenes are extraordinary and the detachment when switching to in-game graphics is not as evident as in previous episodes, a sign that big improvements have been made on this front too .
Then there is an incredible visual variety, which only in terms of types of enemies expresses dozens and dozens of different solutions, which draw from the protagonist's imagination: Ichiban is a lover of the classic Dragon Quest, and so with each fight his imagination transforms the normal opponents on duty into masked buffoons, pirates, corrupt cops and crazy maniacs with the long coat of order.
Of course, there is no shortage of decidedly old-gen concessions in some aspects of level design, see for example the dungeons and some alternative sections, but in principle we are faced with the best Yakuza ever from an aesthetic point of view: a very valid opportunity to carry out some virtual tourism among the streets of the most important Japanese cities, accompanied by a colonna sonora in large part already felt but always involving, as well as by dialogues interpreted with great conviction.
The PS5 version of Yakuza: Like a Dragon also delivers a technically flawless experience to Sony users, thanks to the excellent graphics mode at 1440p and 60fps, as well as truly instant uploads. It is a pity that this next-gen edition is not compatible with the saves made on PS4, also given the possibility of making the free upgrade: given the length and substance of the experience, starting it again may not be in your ropes, but maybe you enjoyed the new jRPG style approach so much that you want to experiment with new professions and possibilities. No problem instead for those starting from scratch: we preferred the action combat system, but the narration, the settings and the protagonists of Like a Dragon will not leave you indifferent.
- Amazing story, characters and setting
- Extremely rich and lasting campaign
- Excellent 60 fps mode, instant uploads
- Turn-based combat weakens the experience
- The action often becomes repetitive
- The PS5 version is incompatible with old saves