Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth review: heart, soul and Pokémon

I’ve never met Ichiban Kasuga in my gaming life, but after less than an hour with Like a dragon: infinite wealth, I would express my fervent and eternal desire to protect that bundle of pixels with my life. Ichiban, like Infinite wealth, is a clumsy, pompous dork that can sometimes get on your nerves with its blandness. But (and this is a huge but), he is imbued with a level of charm that could forgive any other sin.

Infinite wealth is the eighth entry in the Yakuza series and the second starring Ichiban Kasuga, a 40-year-old former criminal whose chest you could crack open and find a literal heart of gold. Although I am quite familiar with the Yakuza series, after he had studied it Yakuza 0 and a bit of it Yakuza KiwamiI missed the previous game which was our first introduction to Ichiban: Yakuza: Like a dragon. However, Infinite wealth does a good job of keeping you informed if you haven’t played or simply forgot the events Like a dragon.

In Infinite wealth, we meet Ichiban some time after he becomes the hero of Yokohama. He now works at the local employment center and is committed to helping ex-yakuza members find gainful employment in a climate where laws prohibit ex-yakuza from participating in society. While this is a noble goal, it leads to trouble for Ichiban, who, after pranks, heads to Hawaii to find his long-lost mother and makes friends along the way – who become party members.

If you are new to Yakuza games, here’s a warning: Infinite wealth will really test your patience. The pace of this game is criminal. For every five minutes I got to explore the richly constructed world full of arcades and beaches and things to fight, experience, or collect, I had to sit through 20 to 30 minutes of story-critical (and therefore unskippable) cutscenes. . Final Fantasy XIIIwith its preponderance of on-rails sections forbidding any exploration, felt better structured than this.

However, the developers at Sega’s Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio seemed to know when players’ patience would run out, because every time I thought about putting the game down for good, something so damn ridiculous and fun would throw me into a loop. right back in. Despite my frustration with Infinite wealthThe pace of the game makes the game unfold quite well as it takes time to cook.

Instead of dumping everything it has to offer into the opening chapters, Infinite wealth slowly introduces its new systems in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the player. I had a chance to marinate with the social media friend-making mini-game, along with the gruesome and extremely unpleasant ‘dating app’ mini-game before gaining access to the Crazy taxivia Uber-Eats mini-game. I got some time to have fun with that before the game became quite robust Yakuza-ified version of Pokemon (called Sujimon, a complete monster fighting game raids and all!) to me. And it took me a whopping 14 hours to get to one of the most advertised parts of the film Infinite Wealth: the Animal crossing-like Dodonko Island mini-game. And that’s not all! Around the time I was introduced to Dondonko Island, there was also a full dungeon crawler with successive levels of increasingly difficult battles to play through.

Infinite wealth consists of nine different retail games in a trench coat with yakuza tattoos, made of social commentary. I haven’t finished it yet, I spent 25 hours getting to chapter six of fourteen, but there’s so much to see and do that I doubt I’ll finish it this fiscal year.

I like some Infinite wealth does with the traditional turn-based RPG battle format. Instead of staying in a static position like you do Persona or one of the turn-based Final fantasy games you can move through the battle arena Infinite wealth to get yourself ready for the best combos. My favorite is when you can line up enemies and allies like bowling pins. On a successful attack, you’ll bump into an ally that triggers a bonus attack, or you’ll hit an enemy into another enemy with the chance to kill them both. It doesn’t work that often – enemies seemed to have a greater ability to move and position themselves than I did – but when it worked, it worked well.

Ichiban and his comrades have different jobs, each with different strengths, skills and weapons to use. I didn’t feel like the feature system was particularly interesting or transformative. Ichiban’s job at Aquanaut doesn’t feel significantly different from his job as a Hero, so there’s no point in switching. Probably because I haven’t had much time with it. This is true Infinite wealthThe slow introduction of systems works against this, because you can’t change jobs or learn new ones until chapter five.

Despite this, the battle itself is absurd in the best way. Fights with criminals and gang members turn into fights against monsters as creepy men wrapped in sleeping bags attack you like a Caterpie, but hit much harder. Ichiban wields his hero sword with which he strikes down the wicked, but in reality it is a very large, industrial vibrator. (I’m not kidding!) I appreciate how Infinite wealth tends towards its unseriousness, because almost every time something ridiculous or cool happens, either in battle or during a mini-game, the game disables the UI and slows down the most action-packed moments, giving you the chance to get the best to take screenshots.

If you work in the video game industry, the first few hours Like a dragon: infinite wealth should come with a trigger warning. Shortly after entering the game, Ichiban is summarily fired, despite being one of the best employees his employment agency has ever seen. (Sound familiar?) Ichiban’s dismissal is one of several make-you-go-oof moments throughout the game’s first 20 hours that underscore the game’s larger emotional ethos.

Infinite wealth looks closely at everything from homelessness to the impact of tourism on local communities, to what happens when so-called social media ‘influencers’ are allowed to pass off gossip and rumors as investigative journalism. And it doesn’t feel superficial either. The game doesn’t point to a problem as if to say, “We recognize this problem”; On the contrary, Ichiban’s various adventures continually confront these issues, with the homelessness epidemic in Hawaii as an example.

When Ichiban’s wallet is stolen by a person who is homeless, after chasing him, he does not knock the man unconscious as punishment, as a video game might require. Instead, Tomizawa, one of your party members and a native of Hawaii, explains how the state has the fourth highest rate of homelessness in the United States, while also being the most expensive state to live in. All true.

It can be a bit of a whiplash to go from the highs of the Sujimon battle to the lows of confronting our government’s apparent unwillingness to do anything substantial for those without housing, when they apparently do have housing. Infinite wealth (see what I did there) for bailing out banks. But I appreciate that while the Yakuza series has always mixed its message with absurdity, Infinite wealth pushes even harder on the social commentary underlying the game’s crazier moments to remind the player that while this is a wacky game, it has something to say, and it’s high time we actually go listen.

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