Well, I think we may have a Game Of The Year contender for 2024 already. I may as well get that off my chest in the first paragraph of this review, because Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth just oozes quality as well as quantity in almost every avenue of the gameplay loop. I am no stranger to the Yakuza series of games and I have no shame in stating that I adore them. They strike a great balance in deep and dark gritty storylines whilst bringing some equally wacky and wonderful tangents to indulge in.
It seems like titles from developers Rya Ga Gotoku come thick and fast, and they indeed do, with this being the ninth mainline entry into the series. Also a direct sequel to Yakuza: Like A Dragon which launched in 2020 and the spin-off Like A Dragon: The Man Who Erased His Name which arrived in November 2023, RGG just keeps pumping out quality games. Despite the frequency of these games, I have never played one that hasn’t taken my interest or that I haven’t enjoyed immensely. But we just have the best experience in the roster yet with Infinite Wealth.
Welcome To Hawaii!
Now, there haven’t been many games set on the wonderful island of Hawaii, with the only one that springs to mind being the recent outing of The Crew Motorfest from Ubisoft. Whilst Infinite Wealth starts the journey in the familiar surroundings of suburban Japan, it isn’t long before Ichiban Kasuga gets off for sun, sea, coconuts, and segways amongst the palm trees. Now I don’t want to spoil the storyline for you here as it is a huge driving factor for me engaging with the game, there are some exceptionally gripping moments in the 60-70 hour rollercoaster ride during the main core chapters of the game.
You’ll spend most of your time sourcing the whereabouts of the mother of Kasuga whilst coming to terms with the fact that partner in crime Kazuma Kiryu is battling with lung cancer. Now I’ll leave it there as far as the contents of the story go, as more will reveal too much. You’ll meet plenty of familiar faces along the journey if you have played the previous instalments and there are several nods and flashbacks to the past which serve as nice little reminders and memories of the games gone by.
Sujimon, Minigames, Arcades & Dating
As always there is plenty of stuff to be cracking on with if you want a break from the main story. These serve as a good distraction if you just need some downtime from scrapping against the hordes of gangs who swarm the streets. I’ll highlight what is on offer below.
Arcades – It wouldn’t be a Yakuza title without an arcade would it? There isn’t a huge whack of games to dive into here, but I had fun with SpikeOut, you can also play SEGA Bass Fishing and Virtua Fighter 3tb. There are also grab machines with a variance of prizes which can also be used for your Aloha Links buddies.
Casino – If you fancy having a flutter and attempting to make some money, you can get your wallet out and play Blackjack and Poker
Mahjong – I’ve never been interested in learning Mahjong, but for those who love it, there are plenty of spots to play it
Miss Match – By using this dating app you’ll be able to flirt and have conversations with females and even give yourself an ego boost with some XP for your personality.
Sujimon Battling – Sujimon returns and whilst it mimics Pokemon in several ways, it is pretty addictive to follow. I can’t tell you how many times I went off on a tangent catching new ones and battling in the league.
Shogi – This version of the Japanese style chess style game is ever present and can be accessed in a couple of locations
Kareoke – Bond with your friends in the Survive or Revolve bar and get your rhythm-based button-pressing skills engaged through a plethora of different songs you can sing
Fishing – With plenty of open water on the Hawaiian coast, you can fish to your heart’s content and attempt to unlock some unique gear
Dondoko Island – Yakuza’s answer to Animal Crossing, rebuild the island from the ground up, make money and look after the community. You can lose so many hours diving into this. But you won’t unlock this portion of the game until Chapter 6. Roughly 15-20 hours in.
There is much more such as the Ounabara Vocational School, Texas Hold Em, Sicko Snap, Gambling Hall Games, the Driving Range, and Crazy Delivery which has you delivering food for money in a salute to Crazy Taxi.
A Whole Lot Of Fighting
It is hard to be critical of anything in Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth. But the one thing that always seems to bug me is enemies on almost every street corner. It becomes nearly impossible to walk down any road without getting involved in a scrap with someone. Not long after being in Hawaii, you’ll soon unlock a Segway which is a godsend for travelling around and avoiding fights. The only downside here is you must pay with your in-game money to charge up.
Graphics & Audio
Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth is stunning. I’ve said it before in previous reviews and I’ll say it again. Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios are the best in class at cutscenes in any game, period. I can’t think of any other game where cutscenes come across better both in terms of facial animations, character mobility and movement, and the scenery surrounding them. Those who have played Yakuza games will know that cutscenes are exceptionally lengthy and Infinite Wealth is no different. Watching and engaging though is magnificent with every moment feeling like I’m watching a high-quality movie or TV series. Having English spoken language for the voice acting helps massively and takes away the constant reading of subtitles with previous games.
The environment of Honolulu City in Hawaii is superb and well crafted, making it the biggest playable area in a Yakuza game yet. The streets, beach, and shopping center have an atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re in a living, breathing environment. Some of the backdrops and moments of beautiful scenery have a real wow factor, they made me stop in my tracks to keep using the in-game photo mode. Stopping constantly to take selfies or front-facing shots of various landmarks adds real longevity and enjoyment for sure.
Audio echoes the impressiveness of the visuals. The sound effects, the music, and even the terrible English singing in the Karaoke bar are spot-on. Being able to use a smartphone to listen to audio tracks whilst bumbling around on the streets and even tune into podcasts adds yet another layer of a whole host of features to discover.
Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth grabbed me from the start with an exciting storyline and new twists and turns in an enthralling new area to discover in Hawaii. With an abundance of new mini-games and a feast of features to keep gamers going for hundreds of hours if you want to see and do everything on offer. The main story will take most gamers 60 to 70 hours to clock at a steady pace, completionists will likely raise this to 110+ hours to knock off all the substories and other areas of the game.
Happy Resort Dondoko Island is an entirely new spin on the game which could almost class as a game within a game, it is that extensive. This along with Sujimon battling, dating, playing in the arcades, making an army of friends, and a whole lot more brings massive replayability along with New Game+. It is an RPG with a wealth of different stuff to do and it never leaves you short of activities to partake in. Alongside this, it brings some deep and meaningful stories that will hit home for some who play it. Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth is one of the best RPG titles I’ve ever played and it will be hard to knock it off the Game Of The Year pedestal for me, even this early into 2024! A must-buy!
- Hawaii is beautiful and the largest playable area of a Yakuza title yet
- Dondoko Island is literally Animal Crossing in Yakuza land
- Visuals are exceptional as always
- Some exciting and new mini-games
- It’s still difficult to walk down any street without getting into a scrap
- New Game+ appears to be behind a paywall