I got into the Yakuza: Like a Dragon series in 2020 with a lot of free time on my hands and quickly caught up in time for the seventh entry, which I adored for its switch to turn-based combat. Infinite Wealth picks up from the prior game with the return of Ichiban as the main character and Kiryu as a playable protagonist for the best overall game in the series, as you’ll see in our review of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth.
Game Name: Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S (reviewed), PC (Steam)
Developer(s): Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Release Date: January 26, 2024
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth takes players quickly from the previous location of Yokohama, Japan, for the first-ever trip to an international destination in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. The new location and some new heroes and villains make for a jam-packed experience with so much to see and do. It also has plenty of surprises along the way for a gorgeous, lengthy, and amazing new entry in the series.
Welcome to Hawaii
The onset of the adventure in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth sees Ichiban take a trip to Hawaii to meet his mother finally. After some shocking events at the start of the game, which I won’t dare spoil here, Ichiban finds himself in a place not too dissimilar to his classic stint as a homeless person at the beginning of the previous game.
With a theme this time surrounding the rehabilitation of criminals and Yakuza members and second chances, Ichiban finds himself in a new location. The map of Honolulu is by far the largest in the series to date, and it looks gorgeous. The mix of the sun-lit beaches with the busy streets of tourists makes for a unique feel and style. The different locations, from Waikiki to the Anaconda Shopping Center to the slums, all feel distinct and beautiful in their own ways. Hawaii is a welcome new addition to the franchise, showing how Like a Dragon can go beyond Japan.
The turn-based battles system returns from the previous game with some neat improvements and additions, such as the ultimate action time for Kiryu. Elements like grinding out Ichiban’s personality traits, greeting locals on the streets to add them to my friends list on social networks, and various personality challenges made grinding battles smoother, faster, and much more fun. I do wish you could speed up the battles once engaged, especially in auto-battle, but the constant timed activities keep everything moving at a solid pace regardless.
Exploration in Hawaii feels great because there is something to do every few feet, whether running around on the sidewalk or riding the new Segway vehicle.
A Tale of Two Kings
The gameplay feels incredible in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, but the real star of the show is the storyline involving both Ichiban and Kiryu as the two lead protagonists together for the first time. I was a bit worried about this story with the new location and how both characters already seemingly experienced the peaks of their stories, but Infinite Wealth took my low expectations and threw them out the window.
Ichiban and Kiryu get equal amounts of time to further them as characters and show the next step in their journeys. For Ichiban, it is all about finding his real mother and helping Kiryu in his mission in Hawaii. This part of the journey has its fair share of surprises, twists, and emotional moments. I will say Ichiban’s part in the story is a bit lighter at times than Kiryu’s plot, but there’s one moment, in particular, that might be the most surprising scene in the series thus far, giving me some serious vibes of a certain anime I won’t dare spoil here.
Kiryu, on the other hand, steals the story every time it focuses on his personal journey. Without going into it too much, Kiryu is still a dead man to the public eye, but he is on a journey to complete a mission for the Daidoji Family, who essentially owns him at this point. His tale goes in an incredible and unexpected direction, which made me tear up more times than I can count.
Better yet, Kiryu has a particular game mechanic late into the story, which is by far one of the most depressing and gripping side features I’ve seen in a game that should honestly be essential. I wish I could talk more about it, but you’ll just have to see when you get there.
Then there are the long-awaited interactions with Ichiban and Kiryu finally together. They balance each other out so well, and they lean on each other for intense moments. Their constant back-and-forth dialogue with one another is some peak-level Yakuza content if it only happened more often.
An Unbelievable Amount of Content
When you aren’t grinding out job levels, battling against random foes on the streets, or completing some of the most challenging boss fights in the series, there is still the most content in any Like a Dragon game to date to check out. Love Pokemon? Great, there is the Sujimon League, where you collect enemies as Pokemon and battle them out against the “Discreet Four” and earn badges like a small-scale Pokemon game.
Want to get Ichiban a date? There is a Tinder-like dating app where you can engage in text battles to meet up with girls and find some possible love. There are a couple of randomly generated dungeons with numerous floors, similar to Persona 3’s Tartarus, with side objectives and items to get. If you miss Sega’s Crazy Taxi, there is the Crazy Eats with a mix of that nostalgic game and Uber Eats delivery.
And if none of that is enough for you, there is the Animal Crossing-like Dondoko Island. This entire experience is literally like an entire game within a game. Ichiban gets access to this island a significant chunk of the way into the game, where you can build whatever structures you want, clear out the island, invite tourists to make money, battle against foes in classic action combat, and raise your resort’s rating.
It is so deep that I unlocked it at about 18 hours into the game, and then I spent the next 10 highly engaging hours playing Dondoko Island solely before jumping back into the main plot. And the best part is, I still haven’t even finished the central objective of Dondoko Island. Suffice it to say that while the main story will keep you busy for 40-50 hours, you can keep playing this game for much longer than that.
Occasional Pacing Issues
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth fires on all cylinders, from the gameplay to the content to the story, but it isn’t without some issues here and there. The game spends the right amount of time introducing the excellent new party members like Chitose and Tomizawa early on, but then it gets into some weird pacing areas in the latter half.
Some surprising structural changes that happen cause some of the story developments to come to a screeching halt as the characters focus on some other elements. This can be a bit annoying, especially since it is quite transparent halfway into the game where the plot is going, but it takes some time to get there unless you speed through it.
This threw me off a bit and killed some of the vibes, but I will admit if players can embrace the change and awkward pacing in the latter half, it pays off exponentially with some amazing moments and new content.
There is so much to see and do in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth that I have plenty of reasons to go back and keep playing many hours after already rolling credits. Every single feature, character, story beat, callback, and more feels so sugary sweet. While you might think it would get a bit overwhelming, the game has such variety that I never wanted to pick up another game the entire time I was playing this for about 55 hours.
While the crux of the game’s story does land in some slightly predictable places in the end, it takes some emotional and dramatic paths to get there, which beautifully sets up the next era of Like a Dragon and has me excited for more. But I will admit it will be hard to live up to the greatness of this title.
Review Disclosure Statement: Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth was provided to The Outerhaven for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth shows Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio and the entire Yakuza: Like a Dragon series at its finest. The best game in the series offers shocking and unbelievable content for players to experience across game modes like Dondoko Island, the brilliant and gut-wrenching story, and the intriguing new characters. Though it has some pacing issues here and there, and I still wish for slightly faster battles, this is the biggest, greatest, and most compelling adventure for Ichiban and Kiryu yet.
- Hawaii is a gorgeous location
- There is something for everyone from Dondoko Island to Sujimon League
- Kiryu is finally back in a major way
- The story goes in some fascinating and shocking directions
- I still wish more time was spent on Kiryu and Ichiban’s relationship
- More new party members would have been nice, especially one story character who feels like a missed opportunity
- The story pacing gets a bit weirdly awkward in the second half
- There needs to be a speed-up option for at least auto battles