Having played through quite a large slice of the upcoming Yakuza: Like a Dragon
on PC (it's also an Xbox Series X launch title) it's safe to say that the transition to turn-based RPG (ala Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest) is a decision that will go down in history. As one that added perhaps the secret ingredient needed to create one of the best Yakuza games to date.
Even though the turn-based nature of encounters are simple, to the point of repetition ala getting sucked into a fight every few steps as found in many a JRPG from the ‘90s - it serves as the glue to hold together.
Our Full Yakuza: Like a Dragon Hands-On Preview
Like a Dragon is a Yakuza experience and game that feels more cohesive and less disparate than ever before. Which is a weird thing to say, but the whole RPG angle makes every mini-game, each strange encounter, each “dungeon” of hallways and fights, feel like a piece of a larger videogame whole. Having a cool Jazz bar as a hub to unwind and get to know your party - whilst also partaking in a little karaoke - is a brilliant touch. And one that keeps with the series’ tradition of leaning into story at almost every turn. This is perhaps the game’s secret weapon, Yakuza: Like A Dragon isn’t over the top for the sake of being over the top - it’s all grounded by characters you can empathise with and stories that are, well, sweet. Even the tale about an S&M customer yearning for pain ends up being touching.