Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review – The End of Yakuza

For as many adventures that Kiryu and crew have gone on in the Like a Dragon/Yakuza franchise, a passport was never a part of Kiryu’s carry-on. It’s been nearly two decades of titles and this marks the first one that has left the Japanese borders, at least in-game. There’s a lot of new ground together, with the adventure expanding beyond Yokohama and Kamurocho to the beach resorts of Honolulu. The mystery of the subtitle to Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth will be immediately apparent to players as they experience the narrative firsthand and isn’t just a shorthand for milking the series with an asset flip after only releasing The Man Who Erased His Name only a couple of months prior.

Ichiban Kasuga is finally living the dream life he’s always wanted and deserves after The Great Dissolution of the Omi and Tojo yakuza factions. He’s cleaned up nicely, traded in the punch perm for a ponytail, and works as a job placement manager for Hello Work, helping yakuza left behind by society find their footing and contribute something to society. Just as everything is going right, life comes at him with a one-two punch right in the feels. For one, his past work helping former yakuza and thieves find part-time work comes with a liability after an anonymous Vtuber outs his philanthropic work as something malicious to her audience. On the other hand, Ichiban’s mother, once thought to have died shortly after his birth after being struck by a car, was instead alive and well in sunny Honolulu. As with all plotlines that weave into the Yakuza/Like a Dragon narrative, things aren’t quite so simple: his mother is supposed to be dead and there are plenty of folks who wish to make sure it comes true.

Ichiban’s first hours in Hawaii, USA are filled with mishaps that take advantage of his chaotically good outlook. First he’s nearly robbed by a taxi driver at gunpoint and then later drugged and knocked out by a woman claiming to be Akane’s housekeeper, stealing all of his personal belongings and leaving him stranded on the beach shores with nothing but his punch perm (a scene that did well to introduce the latest sequel barely a year and a half ago. In proper Like a Dragon fashion, those two minor antagonists instead become two of Ichiban’s closest friends in Hawaii while he searches for clues that will lead to his mother and her sudden (and repeated) disappearance. His first days in Honolulu also see the puffy-haired child-at-heart rendezvous with Kazuma Kiryu Joryu, who’s looking worse for wear with greying hair and a weaker constitution after years of beating ass, cigarettes, and whisky on the rocks. The two make an unlikely duo and party members for the first chapters before the series shifts to a dual-protagonist viewpoint, with Joryu returning to Yokohama and holing up in Ichiban’s old soapland flat while Ichiban continues his search in Hawaii.

Nearly all of Ichiban’s old party members return for an encore appearance in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, save for Eri Kamataki, contest winner and seventh party member from Ichiban’s first adventure. In her place is the leader of the Korean Geomijul faction, Seonhee. All in all, players will have more than ten playable characters for their two parties, although they remain separated by the Pacific Ocean for most of the 90-plus hour adventure. If you want to have Ichiban finally invite Seonhee along as his drinking buddy, you’re going to have to wait until the iconic Premium Adventure unlocks before that can be a reality. And if you were expecting Infinite Wealth to feature a New Game Plus mode, sadly, you’ll have to shell out a few extra dollars for DLC to make that happen. If SEGA keeps releasing incremental DLC like this and people keep buying it, isn’t that a source of infinite wealth in its own way?

Most of your favorite job classes are accessible once more in Infinite Wealth. Each character has a signature job exclusive to the other party members but it’s worthwhile to instead switch each job once it hits level 30 and the special attacks are unlocked before swapping to another class. Leveling a class up beyond 30 confers permanent stat buffs, but the amount of experience needed scales up exponentially to the point that it isn’t worth the effort until approaching Infinite Wealth’s endgame. True to Like a Dragon fashion, investing time in the various minigames and side diversions yields powerful weapons and gear ahead of the curve for those who want to break the game’s delicate balance. Learning shogi, for example, yields players with a revolver for the Desperado class that easily triples the attack for what players will have for many chapters if they take the time to win enough matches. For a story where Ichiban is on a race against time to rescue his estranged mother from danger, there’s somehow always time to belt out some tunes at Revolve Bar, talk a smooth game in an attempt to try to hook up on not-Tinder, and become a Sujimon Master for the second time (if only he didn’t delete the original app from his phone to conserve space).

Ichiban and Kiryu Taichi Suzuki Joryu have their own completion lists and motivations to check off every eatery around town or collect high scores in every minigame across the title’s three towns. For Ichiban, it’s about becoming a better hero and using his emotions to become stronger. For Joryu, it’s a bucket list of things that the Dragon of Dojima wants to pull off before his forced retirement and funeral.

Indeed, the fourth Tojo chairman’s candle is about to be snuffed out. But it wasn’t the years of street fights that did him in. Fairly early on, it’s revealed that Kiryu (and let’s face it, if no one in Yokohama is calling him Joryu, I can probably stop doing so in this review) wanted to atone for himself by volunteering to help with nuclear waste and storage. During a minor containment breach, Kiryu makes a self-sacrificing move to help rescue a coworker trapped in an unfortunate collapse, subjecting his body to radioactive material in doing so. Rather than knives or bullets, it’s cancer that found Kiryu its latest victim. With death, a seemingly real prospect for Kiryu, the concept of a bucket list is introduced by his lifelong guide and friend, gumshoe Makoto Date. By getting rid of any lingering regrets, it’s hoped that Kiryu can regain some of his former strength long enough to help Ichiban rescue his mother. These moments are callbacks to almost all the major Yakuza characters still left standing after the past thirty years of running the Kamurocho streets (Tanimura is still the only protagonist missing from the roster).

The latter half of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth’s narrative revolves around the bonds that Kiryu has made during his long life as the Dragon of Dojima. There are some significant payoffs and fan service to those that have seen Kiryu beat ass for the past thirty years. Some moments in the back half of the adventure would have been perfect sendoffs for iconic characters of Kiryu’s past. However, rather than leaving one of the most emotional scenes as is, the developers ruin the moment by trying to add a level of finality during the climax. Perhaps it’s a pettiness of my own to have preferred seeing the chapter end with unresolved threads rather than the developers’ insistence on wrapping everything up neatly while leaving a link into the next potential game.

As only the second turn-based RPG in the Like a Dragon series (not counting the mobile game), Infinite Wealth takes a bit of patience to approach the combat rather than the iconic brawler action that the series is known for. Ichiban’s first adventure was lovingly dubbed Like a Dragon Quest as it took his delusions of growing up with the Mega Drive and Dragon Quest and somehow made their way into the way he perceives streetfights. Alongside three other like-minded folks, both Ichiban and Kiryu take their time with the action. Fights are played out in turn, with those with the highest speed stat making the first move. Players can attack (and regain a small amount of MP), frequently chaining together combo attacks if the enemy is knocked down or lands near a party member that has a sufficient affection level. Beyond the basic attack and guard, players can use all of the take-out orders or vending machine drinks they’ve stockpiled as consumables mid-combat or throw bombs or volleyballs as damaging items that can also inflict status effects on enemies.

Each character class also earns skills at certain level milestones and, unlike the previous Like a Dragon title, can freely mix and match to be used across any other class that particular character plays as (minus Sujimancer and a couple of other skills that aren’t usable if not that class. Even the ultimate Essence attacks can be carried over between classes, although you’ll need to max out the bond for that character all the way to level 100 to be able to inherit one of those skills (thankfully, you can just take your party members to the strip club and power level those levels if you’ve got the cash to spare). While each character has a signature class that’s exclusive to them with some unique abilities, it’s worth taking the time to have every character in your party invest in some levels for some universally handy skills (Scum Scraper from the Housekeeper and the AoE heals from the Idol class are both worth it on every female character).

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth serves as the real bridge between the Yakuza and Like a Dragon series into one cohesive experience. It’s the perfect sendoff for Kiryu and a passing of the torch to the plucky Ichiban Kasuga. In a lot of ways, Infinite Wealth builds upon the past with callbacks that series fans could appreciate. It’s a Japanese RPG experience that could only best be described as Ryu ga Gotoku Studio’s Metal Gear Solid 4 moment.

Reviewed on PlayStation 5 (code provided by the publisher).

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Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

An 80-plus hour rollercoaster of emotions and crime drama, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is the perfect way to send off Kazuma Kiryu’s lineage and pass the mantle on to the self proclaimed hero Ichiban Kasuga.

  • New mechanics and synergies incentivize players to experiment with different classes
  • A second round of Kson if you didn’t get your fill of her in Gaiden
  • Kiryu too strong to be constrained by turn-based combat, with an ultimate move that turns him back into a brawler
  • More than 80 hours of turn-based JRPG goodness
  • Meaty minigames with Dondoko Island and Sujimon battles that can take hours to master
  • Collectible SEGA music to jam out to on the go
  • Delicate balance easily upset by spending a little extra time gambling or
  • Reaching level 70 to unlock all trophies either a monotonous grind (even in The Big Swell DLC dungeon) or you can spend $10 for a few extra levels
  • Certainly not an adventure for a first time Like a Dragon fan
  • Limited party members until postgame
  • Still reusing the same generic yakuza grunts as cutscene fodder for the past twenty years
  • Japanese podcast tracks not subtitled

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