Can you survive the end of the samurai era?
1860s Kyo is plagued by widespread inequality, and one samurai will change the course of history in his search for justice. Take up the sword of Sakamoto Ryoma and venture to Kyoto to find your father’s killer, clear yourself of a framed murder, and restore your honour. In doing so, you will bring an end to the samurai era and forever change the future of Japan. Draw your blade, load your revolver, and join the revolution in this heated historical adventure that only the creators of Yakuza: Like a Dragon could produce.
The Yakuza series (or Like a Dragon series, which it will be known in the West as from now) has been a highlight for me with its epic stories, over-the-top moments, great combat and superb side quests and mini-games. I wasn’t actually aware of a past entry that was set in the 1860s but now it has finally arrived in the West with mass improvements and extra content. But is it a step back or a step forward for the series?
Yakuza: Like a Dragon changed the combat forever with it’s turn-based mechanics, while spin-offs Judgment and Lost Judgment kept it traditional. Like a Dragon: Ishin! keeps things traditional but it does mix things up with its blend of swords and guns that you can use in different combat styles. The cities you explore aren’t full of neon lights and pachinko machines like the famous streets of Kamurochō and Sotenbori but they do have their own charm.
The structure of the game does seem a bit dated when compared to other entries, but you need to take in to account that the original version is quite old and never released in the West. Despite this, there’s still plenty to do, tons of crazy side quests, addictive mini-games and over-the-top action that you all know the series for.
You may think because it’s set in an older time period that the minigames and side content might suffer, but I can assure you that is far from the case. It perhaps has some of the best in the series. It is funny to see Yakuza characters like Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima recast as other characters, but it doesn’t take away the impact of the story itself. The plot is a good one and the acting is impressive and typical of the quality that the series has prided itself on from the original game.
Voice-acting is back to the traditional Japanese only, so no English dub which I honestly prefer from this series. The soundtrack also is outstanding from start to finish. The visuals are impressive and the framerate doesn’t suffer at all, while the load times are short overall. I didn’t come across any noticeable bugs and the sheer amount of content will keep you busy for a long time.
While a bit dated compared to fresher entries, Like a Dragon: Ishin! is a superb entry in the series takes it to the end of the Samurai era but still manages to keep up all the excitement, joy and zany nature of the series. Don’t let the old era setting fool you, this is one that you cannot miss out on.