Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name PAX West Impression
As evidenced by the colourful imagery and visuals, the franchise doesn’t let up on its uniquely serious and comedic tones, deftly going from one to the other in a very satisfying manner.
Being at PAX West, there’s something great about being able to experience so many franchises I’ve never had the chance to play before. The Like a Dragon/Yakuza franchise from Ryu ga Gotoku Studio is one of those: the combat has always looked so smooth and the story so interesting, emotional, and goofy, but I never got the chance to try out. Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name follows in this tradition, with a smooth and enjoyable gameplay experience shown off during its demo at PAX West.
The demo was only a few minutes long so there’s not much that can be added to the information already available. However, in that time frame there was a short story scene with a woman Akame bringing the man formally known as Kazuma Kiryu to a high-stakes adult theme park called The Castle. Akame suggests various things for the dapper, almost spy-like Kiryu to do, like visit a casino, the cabaret club, and the boutique. Akame’s main suggestion, though, is that Kiryu joins the Colliseum to test his mettle against other fighters. Before he can make a choice, a group of brawlers laugh at Kiryu’s plan of joining the Colliseum and pick a fight with him.
This tosses the player into the fight mechanics found in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, which to this franchise first-timer felt crisp and fluid. Seeing Kiryu effortlessly string combos together, punching and kicking his foes into submission while ducking and dodging like an expert boxer was a treat. Kiryu is not just a brawler now, and he has access to an array of gadgets that make his combos flourish in new ways. The one that was chosen most was the Spider gadget which wraps enemies up and slings them around like toys. Beating on foes and tossing them around the room has never felt so fresh. With these foes dispatched, Kiryu is able to wander around the Castle, including a first-person mode to view his surroundings.
It is then that words started to fail this intrepid writer, forgetting what cabaret club actually means and thinking it was only a place where darts mini-games are found. Suddenly Kiryu was happily choosing between three very real and not in-game rendered lovely ladies and treating her to a night of fun and debauchery. Being the classy gentleman that he is, Kiryu bought the most exquisite of champagnes and treated his date with the utmost respect, something rewarded with an almost full heart meter from the beautiful woman. The crowd of PAX West attendees looked on as this courteous brawler treated them to a full-on wine and dine scene.
The demo ended with a jump over to the Colliseum, where there were too many choices of characters to pick from for the short time remaining. So, of course, the Sheepman was picked (because who doesn’t want to pummel evildoers in a sheep mask with strikes that land much stronger and bounce enemies like so many human basketballs). As evidenced by the colourful imagery and visuals, the franchise doesn’t let up on its uniquely serious and comedic tones, deftly going from one to the other in a very satisfying manner. Luckily, we won’t have to wait long to continue this story as Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name releases on November 9, 2023, for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.