The year is 1867, and a lone katana-wielding warrior wanders a dusty Japanese town full of merchants, bandits, and the odd pet. The warrior, a sullen Shinsengumi soldier named Ryouma Sakamoto, encounters a group of villagers dancing, and after a brief skirmish… he joins them.
This is the kind of scene fans have come to expect from the Yakuza series, which was recently renamed Like a Dragon to match the Japanese series. The main difference is that it’s set in the Bakumatsu period rather than under the neon lights of Kamurocho, trading suits for kimonos and automatic weapons for katanas (although the hero, who is Kazuma Kiryu in all but name, has a revolver). . But despite the samurai setting, it remains much the same in spirit.
This means that a decent portion of the game is spent wandering the alleys, playing various mini-games, and generally looking for trouble. There are no Club Sega arcades in 19th-century Japan — or modern Japan, with Sega’s recent exit from the arcade business — but you can play shogi and poker. During my 40 minutes or so with Ishin, I visited a geisha, tried my hand at fishing, and spotted a game of chicken racing (though that last one was sadly blocked).
Much of this takes place in broad daylight, which is a big reason for the move to Unreal Engine 4 for this entry — (Like a Dragon 8 and Like a Dragon Gaiden will both continue to use the older Dragon Engine) . When the sun goes down, the Shinsengumi turn their attention to more serious matters, such as a figure known as “Izu the Butcher” – a fighter capable of dispatching two captains with a brief flash of his blade. Yakuza has always been a violent series, and Ishin continues that tradition between crimson-coated katanas and gores of blood.
Like a Dragon Ishin – First Official Screens
Like a Dragon: Ishin! finally a western is coming out
Fans of the series will remember that Ishin! is a remake of the 2014 game of the same name, which helped launch the series on PS4 nearly a decade ago. This game never made it to North America, mostly because RGG Studio didn’t think Americans would really get the nuances of the Bakumatsu period. It turns out that Americans like katanas, as evidenced by the recent flood of samurai-themed games ranging from Ghost of Tsushima to Sekiro (and more).
Notably, it’s one of the favorite stories of RGG Studio boss Masayoshi Yokoyama, who ranks it alongside fan favorites Yakuza 0 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon as among his best. Yokoyama, it must be said, is a big fan of period dramas—perhaps even more so than detective stories. In that regard, it suits this Ishin! should be the game that kicks off this new era for the series.
As for the game itself, Like a Dragon: Ishin! it doesn’t seem to be significantly different from its Dragon Engine counterparts, except maybe a bit smoother. This can be either a relief or a disappointment, depending on your perspective on Like a Dragon’s current technology. Personally, I think the narrative sequences look amazing as always. the battle, perhaps less so. It’s not like it’s bad, but I find it a little stiff.
For those who don’t know, Like a Dragon: Ishin uses the brawler-style combat found in previous entries, meaning your main goal is to try to create combos by slashing, hitting, or shooting enemies. Of the four styles at my disposal – sword and gun, sword, gun and fists – I found I had the easiest time making combos with the fast sword and gun. Because this is a Yakuza game, Ryoma also has access to a slew of special attacks, meaning you can basically wipe out enemies with a Kamehameha energy attack.
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