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Like A Dragon: Ishin! Review

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Overall – 90%

90%

Like a Dragon: Ishin! is the most fun I’ve had playing a Yakuza game since Yakuza 0. Any fan of the series or fans of samurai games, in general, should check it out.


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After being released in Japan in 2014, Ryu ga Gotoku Studio and SEGA’s Like a Dragon: Ishin! finally makes its worldwide debut. Is the journey worth taking, or should you look elsewhere for your samurai fix?

Like a Dragon: Ishin! Review

Like a Dragon: Ishin! takes place during the mid-1800s, as Western ships start to enter Japan. During this time of turmoil, a young man named Sakamoto Ryoma returns to his home after some sword training in Edo. Sakamoto Ryoma is actually Kiryu from the other games, just renamed for story purposes. When you return home, you meet with your adoptive father and learn about the political issues around your home.

It doesn’t take long for you to get caught up in some plot, and your adopted father is killed. So naturally, as this is a Yakuza game, the blame is put on you and you go into hiding. Unfortunately, you only know that the assassin used the Tennen Rishin style and that the only people who know that style are the Shinsengumi. So you head to Kyo and join up with the Shinsengumi, a group of elite lower-class samurai, hoping to find the answers you seek.

Like a Dragon: Ishin! returns to the real-time action combat the series is known for. As a samurai, you are gifted in multiple fighting styles and can switch freely during battle. There is sword style, unarmed brawler style, gun style, and sword and gun style (for area of effect attacks). Each one has its own skill trees, combos, and special abilities.

Sword style is best for one-on-one fights such as bosses or mini-bosses. Brawler is more about grappling and control. The gun is broken against weaker enemies, and you can spam shoot without reloading. Gun and sword is a hybrid, more about flashy moves and hitting multiple enemies. Brawler was my favorite since I could use my heat gauge to throw endless punches until the enemy dropped or I ran out of steam. I think the sword is the best one overall, though, since some enemies have armor and bullets do next to nothing to armor.

Something I noticed was that there seemed to be fewer heat actions (special attacks) in the world in general. In the other games, you could use bikes, cones, trash cans, and basically anything lying around. You will find some things like stools or fish to use in Ishin, but not nearly as much as in previous entries. It might be because you already have weapons that don’t break. Either way, I was disappointed because I was looking forward to seeing the different ideas they could do in this era.

Like a dragon ishin honest review

To make up for this, you gain what are known as Trooper cards. The cards are used in battle to aid you in combat. Most of them buff or heal you, but some have special attacks. One of the first ones you get lets you shoot lightning out of your hands like Star Wars’ Palpatine. My current favorite is casually summoning a tiger into the battle like it’s an everyday occurrence. Trooper card usage can be set to automatic for people who don’t want to bother with it as well.

The big mini-game in Ishin is called Another Life. It is basically a farm simulator, and it is super addictive. First, you gain a small plot of land to plant multiple crops. Then, after a short time, you harvest the crops and can sell them or make food with them. You can also use Virtue which you gain from various activities such as side quests and defeating tough enemies to upgrade the farm. If you stick with it, you get great food buffs and make some real cash selling crops.

While there are a ton of side quests in Ishin, some of them are just turning in items over and over. I like this because sometimes the Yakuza side quests can start to drag. The downside is you don’t get as many memorable moments. As for other mini-games, you still have karaoke, fishing, and gambling. Chicken racing is a new one that has you gambling on chickens, but I never had much luck at it.

Like a dragon Ishin game review

Since you are part of the Shinsengumi, you have a reputation around town. You can gain more rep by doing side missions, eating at a place multiple times, or buying items from vendors. You also gain access to weapons and upgrades, allowing you to craft new katanas and firearms. And while I did feel strong, I never felt overpowered.

Tech-wise, I didn’t run into any frame drops or have any crashes while I was playing.

Like a Dragon: Ishin! is the most fun I’ve had playing a Yakuza game since Yakuza 0. Any fan of the series or fans of samurai games, in general, should check it out.

This review of Like a Dragon: Ishin! was done on the PlayStation 5. A digital code was provided by the publisher.

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