Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review
Ryu Ga Gotoku’s eighth entry in the crime-based epic is by far their most ambitious. Not only does Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth include an immersive story that respects and develops both Kiryu and Ichiban’s story arcs, but it also boasts the franchise’s largest map. With its surreal substories and array of addictive activities, could this be the pinnacle of the series?
Infinite Wealth is a tale of two worlds. On one hand, you have Ichiban, a loveable goof with a knack for getting himself into ridiculous situations and on the other is Kiryu, a stoic hero with a complex past. While they differ in terms of personality, they share the same values which results in a strong bond and creates a dynamic partnership that complements their individual strengths.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
Taking place years after the events of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Ichiban is now an employee at Hello Work and aims to help ex-Yakuza members to find a job. As he was pivotal in the dissolution of a clan in Yokohama, he believes that it is his responsibility to reintegrate ex-criminals into society. Unexpectedly, his life is turned upside down when a mysterious online reporter misconstrues Ichiban’s actions and positions him as a villain in the media. This coincides with new information regarding his mother. Under the impression that she had died years ago, you discover that she fled to Hawaii. This leads to the former hero of Yokohama to leave for the States in search of his mother.
After Kiryu’s stint in The Man Who Erased His Name, he also finds himself in Hawaii in search of the same person as Ichiban. After bumping into one another, they decide to team up to locate her whereabouts. It becomes immediately obvious that something is different about the Dragon of Dojima, and you soon discover that he in fact has cancer. This leads to a melancholy tale that centers around the rich supporting cast helping him complete his bucket list.
The two narratives differ in terms of tone and Ryu Ga Gotoku manages to balance this perfectly. Decisions carry more weight as they affect your personality and the perks you can equip. Sub-stories include an extra layer of craziness that complements the serious themes that you’ll encounter in the deep and complex story. Due to this, you’ll experience a spectrum of emotions on your journey to and from the sunny beaches of Hawaii and the neon-lit streets of Japan.
Full of Surprises
Honolulu is the biggest area in the history of the franchise and, I’d have to say it’s my favorite too. The staggering number of activities located throughout means that you’ll have something to do around every corner. As you wander, conversational opportunities arise and build your relationship with characters. This gives insight into their background and creates a stronger bond. It’s a fantastic way to ensure that the narrative still develops while you smash in the faces of thugs on the street. You’ll also come across a number of activities that offer unique gameplay experiences. For example, you’ll whizz around the streets in a Crazy Taxi-inspired minigame delivering food to the public and also take part in other activities that involve dating sites and much more!
The meticulous design helps to make the world feel alive. You can catch a taxi, jump on the tram or peruse the streets on a segway to discover the many things to do. It’s easy to get distracted and this is one of the greatest aspects of Infinite Wealth. From arcades featuring classics such as Virtua Fighter and SEGA Bass Fishing to singing your heart out at karaoke bars, you will lose hours in this magnificent world. Certain activities also include their own storylines and specific mechanics to make them worthwhile experiences. For example, the Pokémon parody, Sujimon, returns but is bigger than ever. As a trainer, you can befriend characters to build a fierce team and take on the Discreet Four! This includes raids, a Sujidex and the ability to train and evolve your team. With its own triangle battle system, this portion of the game is a blast.
A Game Within a Game
Continuing with the Nintendo-inspired properties, Dondoko Island is basically Animal Crossing: Yakuza. You arrive on a derelict island which is in need of love and development. To improve the land’s appeal and attract tourists, you will need to clean up the mess, build structures and catch creatures. Design is key and you can decorate your cozy home, craft items and position them where you like. Although this is a change of pace, pirates can invade which means you’ll still need to bash a few enemies. At this point, the game reverts to its origins with traditional combat mechanics. It’s addictive and surprisingly deep which makes it a great way to take a break from the campaign and delve into something completely different.
In terms of combat, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth improves on the turn-based system established in its predecessor. Ryu Ga Gotoku has introduced a movement circle that allows you to position yourself in order to maximize impact. Positioning and proximity are key, as you can get bonuses from attacking from behind and being close to your opponent. The environment is also your friend as you can use items in your vicinity to enhance the power of your attacks. In addition to this, you can send your foe into others or to a member of your party to add further damage. While knocking out opponents is the goal, you’ll also need to defend incoming attacks. If you time your guarding perfectly, this will reduce the damage you take. However, you’ll have to rely on health items and recovery maneuvers to restore HP in the heat of battle.
Time to Party
Each member of your team is unique with specific strengths and weaknesses. Kiryu has three fighting styles and can even break the confines of turn-based combat with a special move that allows him to revert to the traditional combat system. New jobs are also available and are absolutely hilarious. Not only is it a joy to see your favourite characters don ridiculous outfits but they also add more attack options adding further depth to battles. After building a strong bond with your teammates, you can also unleash a furious tag team attack that includes a slick cinematic. These different aspects combine to make a combat system that is deep and intricate making each fight a thrill.
As you stroll the streets, enemies are located throughout. Although you can easily dodge them to quickly get to your location, they are now color-coded by strength. This allows you to easily identify the difficulty of fights so that you can determine whether you want to enter the battle or flee. This supports levelling up too as you receive larger rewards from harder opponents.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is Ryu Ga Gotoku’s best game. The expansive world is packed with content and will beckon you to explore every inch of the environment. Although mini-games and activities are a staple of the series, they have never been as diverse and addictive as this. With its touching yet hilarious story and intricate, deep combat system, we already have a game of the year contender.
*** A PlayStation 5 key provided by the publisher ***
- Tons To Do
- Addictive and Deep Combat System
- Incredible Storytelling
- Requires Knowledge of Previous Games
- Not Suitable For the Easily Offended