I personally only got to know the Yakuza series about five years ago, because I had the feeling that it would just be a type of GTA, only with the Japanese mafia – not that it was bad, but it is not my favorite game type.
In the end, I ended up giving it a try and I had some problems with the gameplay at the time, after all the first game is from 2006 and the second from 2008. But my friends, the story hooked me in an impressive way, with a plot about honor and principles, and a character full of personality and captivating, Kazuma Kiryu, our eternal Dragon of Dojima.
Then I got addicted in a way that I devoured all the other games in the series, getting lost in a bizarre world full of minigames, hilarious quests that involved since mobsters who enjoyed acting like babies helping a dominatrix who didn’t know how to impose himself, comical shots, exciting moments and magnificent characters.
And like any fan with a franchise, when Yakuza Like a Dragon was announced, and there was even that “little joke” on April 1st that it would be a turn-based RPG (which ultimately came to pass), I was very apprehensive about the sudden change of style and protagonist, and even being a fan of this type of combat, I thought I would miss a lot to be able to walk around and beat the enemies with great style.
So, if you were curious to find out if my fears were right or not, and even know more about the game and try to draw your own conclusions, then prepare to take off your suits, show off the tattoos and come check out our Voxel analysis!
A common underworld hero
This time our protagonist is Kasuga Ichiban, a boy born and raised in a “bathroom for adults” who becomes a henchman of the Arakawa family, not nearly as prestigious and imposing as Kazuma, but who has immense respect and adoration by his patriarch, who took him out of trouble and took him in when he was a young delinquent and without protection.
Like all good Yakuza, the beginning of the game already begins with disgrace, having this great feeling of debt and honor for the boss, the boy takes the blame for a murder and spends 18 years in jail. When he finally leaves, hoping to receive a warm welcome from his former allies, no one appears. Kasuga then finds himself totally abandoned in a world that has changed a lot in his nearly two decades in prison, with the situation only getting worse to the point of being betrayed and even shot by the person he trusted most.
This hero’s journey then really begins after being dropped to die in a dump in Yokohama, with luck smiling in his favor when he is rescued by homeless Nanba, who happens to be his first friend and companion on his new journey.
Ichiban will have to start over again and this time totally without home, resources and until then without much support, at least for now.
The humiliated will be exalted
Unlike other games in the franchise, the game already shows from the beginning that the protagonist differs a lot from Kiryu, as there was no challenge that the Dragon of Dojima could not overcome.
Ichiban begins his saga totally desolate and without any perspective, but even so he does not abandon his sense of justice and his desire to become a hero (making it clear from the beginning of the game his immense love for Dragon Quest) to do good for world. This new approach makes the player have a great affection for this hindered forty from the beginning, and when you least expect it, you are already rooting for him, which is a very nice feeling to have in a game.
With this great charisma, the ex-yakuza attracts people to his team when he least expects it, with figures like Nanba, the homeless who was once a nurse, ex-detective Adachi and ex-bartender Saeko, gravitating around his honest and engaging personality.
And this is where we see another difference from its predecessors, in Yakuza Like a Dragon we learn more about the individuals around us, how they all went through bad times and have something to teach. In addition, the plot surrounding the city of Yokohama shows the problems caused by fights between mafias and very heavy subjects such as the cruel and sad lives of homeless people, sex workers and criminals, in addition to their dreams and, in some cases, total lack of hope for a better future.