Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review
Every hero needs to unwind and relax, but not every hero gets to go on a relaxing beach vacation where they can enjoy surf and sand. However, not all vacations are made equal. Maybe you get pickpocketed or held at gunpoint… or both! Maybe you get left naked on the beach with no ID to speak of and the police take you in for a crime you didn’t commit? In Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, Ryū ga Gotoku Studio takes players to the sunny shores of Honolulu, Hawaii for another round of antics with Kasuga Ichiban. What players have been given is another hilarious gem with mostly refined gameplay and tons of content worth exploring.
The Hero of Yokohama has now become an employee of Hello Work. Kasuga begins his life as a civilian, helping anyone who comes to his desk looking for work. That is until the mysterious Tatara Channel reports that Kasuga has been shadily helping ex-yakuza for nerfarious reasons. With fear of the yakuza potentially reforming, Kasuga and the gang lose their respective gigs and are forced back to square one. Then, a figure from Kasuga’s past presents him with an option — a letter stating that his mother is still alive and residing in Hawaii. With nothing to lose, Kasuga hops a plane to Honolulu and soon learns that America is an unforgiving place.
Meanwhile, Kazuma Kiryu is also stationed in Honolulu and is still in contact with the Daidoji Faction. Upon saving Kasuga from an unfortunate run-in with the law, the two share that they both have a common goal of finding Kasuga’s mother Akane. Unfortunately, they aren’t the only ones seeking Akane as the local rough n’ tumble gang known as the Barracudas and the mysterious Palekana are all in search of her. Together, Kasuga, Kiryu, and friends must uncover the disappearance of Akane and find out why every organization, including the Japanese Government, is after her.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is a huge game, and with both Kasuga and Kiryu at the helm, there are a lot of story beats that need connecting and the game does a great job of this. Much of the beginning of the game has both characters stationed in Hawaii, but as the mystery unfolds and more characters join the party, Kasuga and Kiryu’s chapters split up, with Kasuga stationed in Hawaii and Kiryu in Ijincho. Each chapter does a fantastic job of pacing itself while providing the right amount of information without overwhelming the player. It helps that the game has such a compelling cast of characters and the villains that play off them are wonderfully flawed. Ichiban Kasuga continues to steal the show with his unique brand of himbo sincerity that is both infectious as it is idiotic.
The twists and turns that come with this new cast are also worth praising. New party members Tomizawa and Chitose are flawed individuals who are worth rooting for and have very compelling storylines that wrap up flawlessly. Players also get more insight into Seonhee, leader of the Geomijul syndicate and Yokohama Liumang gang in Kiryu’s chapters, which is wonderful given how little players learned about her in Yakuza: Like a Dragon. There is so much to learn about all the characters in the game, making it difficult to want to stop playing. Once the story gets going, it has an addictive rhythm of moving from one spot to another just to learn more information or see what stupid shenanigans Ichiban has gotten into.
While there is a lot of drama and big feelings happening throughout Infinite Wealth’s narrative, there are still a lot of zany moments that keep the world interesting. Many of the side stories remind players how incredibly weird and wonderful the world of Like a Dragon is, from a girl who is convinced she saw a UFO to old friends getting into trouble for running a phony aquarium. It’s fun to meet these weirdos and see how Kasuga responds. Kiryu’s side content, on the other hand, comes in the form of memoirs. Memoirs are hidden spots throughout Ijincho and Kamurocho that highlight moments from his past, whether it’s a bar he used to frequent or where he met Haruka for the first time. These memoirs are incredibly emotional and very touching, reminding players what a softie the Dragon of Dojima truly is.
The turn-based combat of Yakuza: Like a Dragon returns but is much more balanced this time around. Each character has a starting class that they can learn abilities from, but can also change job classes by visiting Aloha-Happy Tours, allowing each character to take on unique roles while also adding new skills to their repertoire. New classes include Aquanauts and Pyrodancer, while favourites such as Chef and Pop Idol make their return. Kiryu brings his own twist to the combat and can use either Beast, Brawler, or Rush style, potentially switching between them on his turn. Characters also now have tag team abilities that allow them to work together to take out enemies, as well as skills that attack one enemy, a targeted area, or all foes. Bonds are important to combat, as having drinks or giving gifts to teammates allows them to gain new support skills, such as the ability to combo or do a follow-up attack. The deeper Bonds progress, the better the perks provided, and some of them can be absolute game changers.
Depending on the class, characters will also receive special “Essence” skills, which are powerful super-moves that often do a great amount of damage or add a status effect. There is also a Perfect Guard, that when timed correctly, can help a character negate the amount of damage being taken. Issues such as the Perfect Guard not working effectively or combat pacing have been addressed here, as battles move at a much brisker pace. What hasn’t changed are the collision issues during combat. When performing an attack or skill, characters will still get stuck in the environments, looking for their pathway to the enemy they wish to attack. There are also cases where characters or enemies will briefly get stuck in the environment, and while it doesn’t happen frequently, it’s noticeable when it does occur.
Poundmates, Like a Dragon’s version of summons, also have noticeable upgrades. While summoning a Poundmate still requires cash, more perks have been added. Some Poundmates will stay for three full turns to offer offensive or healing support to the team, while others that fetch a higher price will offer massive damage or heals without costing a turn to use them. Poundmates continue to be a hilarious part of the combat, and when used strategically can help players get out of tougher situations. What’s also changed is the game’s overall balance. One of the biggest gripes in Yakuza: Like a Dragon was the game’s difficulty spikes, which thankfully are non-existent in Infinite Wealth. While there is always the option to grind, the game does a great job of providing players with the necessary information they need to progress and the overall challenge never feels unfair.
Infinite Wealth is such a huge game compared to its predecessor, and that extends to the amount of side content players can explore. Sujimon make their return, but with a twist in that there is a whole plotline for Kasuga to defeat the Elite Four, and there are Sujimon battles and trainers that can be encountered throughout the game. Catching Sujimon occurs either through random encounters or through a gachapon system. There is also a version of Crazy Taxi, which has Kasuga playing a flip-tricky crazy Door Dash carrier, while Dondoko Island lets players get their life-sim love on. There is so much content to enjoy, and a lot of it is easy and fun.
In terms of sound, the Japanese voice work continues to shine, as the game brings back many notable actors. However, the English voice acting feels much more improved than the previous game, with Danny Trejo and Daniel Dae Kim easily stealing the show as Barracudas leader Dwight Méndez and mysterious Seiryu Clan member Ebina respectively. While the voice acting in Yakuza: Like a Dragon could be hit or miss, it’s much improved here. Players can readily switch the language at any given time. The soundtrack overall does a great job of getting players pumped up for battle, with some great beats throughout, but is also excellent at enhancing the tone during some of the game’s more somber moments.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth has decent graphics, but as usual they vary in quality depending on if one is in a cutscene versus out in the open world, which is a noticeable step behind. However, the game does a great job of making characters expressive, while also giving players three distinctive playgrounds in the form of Ijincho, Kamurocho, and Honolulu. One mild drawback is that there is the extent of asset recycling, especially when it comes to enemies, but it doesn’t deter from the overall experience. Exploring Hawaii, in particular, is wonderful as there is such an attention to detail regarding the location, which will make players feel like they are truly there.
After sinking over fifty hours into Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth to get to the story’s end, the game is an easy recommendation. The story is over-the-top bananas in the best way possible, and the twists and turns are definitely gasp-worthy. The fresh faces do a great job cementing themselves as new favourites, and the addition of Hawaii makes for a great setting change. While there is some recycling of assets and the collision issues are still present, it doesn’t detract from the overall experience. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is addictive, campy, and a game to easily lose oneself in.
Disclosure: This review is based on a free copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Outrageous and over-the-top quests
Intriguing story with wonderfully deep new characters
Combat and difficulty is much more balanced
Recycled assets a plenty
Collision issues persist