Like A Dragon Gaiden allows me to play the Yakuza-Barbie dress-up game of my dreams
The fans of "Like a Dragon" were recently indulged by Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. We had "Like a Dragon: Ishin" this year, and in November, we can ...
The fans of "Like a Dragon" were recently indulged by Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. We had "Like a Dragon: Ishin" this year, and in November, we can anticipate "Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name". Furthermore, at the beginning of next year, we will be graced with "Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth."
Not only are we being indulged with such a substantial amount of content in such a short span of time, but the introduction of Gaiden, a smaller game nestled between the main installments, sets a perilous benchmark for fan expectations. Will this become the new norm? Personally, I would eagerly anticipate more "Like a Dragon," so I certainly won't complain if this new format establishes itself. However, is it feasible for the studio to sustain this pace of work without burning out?
I had the opportunity to play Gaiden at Gamescom, and I knew I would be content with whatever was offered. However, I was not prepared for how much it completely blew me away. As a shorter game inserted before "Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth"—and one that won't even have a physical release in the West—I didn't expect it to deviate so much from the norm. It felt like the essence of "Like a Dragon" was overflowing. It's as if the team took everything that makes the series remarkable and cranked it up to eleven.
We found ourselves thrown into a secret adult-themed amusement park called "The Castle" aboard a massive cargo ship far out at sea. It offered familiar mini-games, various casino gambling options, and the Cabaret Club. There was also the Boutique, a new addition. Overwhelmed by curiosity, I made the decision to venture there.
A proficient secret agent requires a truly stylish suit. The Boutique allows you to dress Kiryu down to the smallest detail by selecting the type of outfit he should wear, the fabrics to be used, the colors, and then adding accessories such as hats, makeup, nail polish, gloves, and jewelry. You can even dress Kiryu in the style of Takaya Kuroda, his voice actor.
Of course, "Like a Dragon" wouldn't be complete without a generous dose of eccentricity. You can don a full-body suit (also known as a 'gimp suit'), don a Majima Construction helmet, and opt for eye-catching leopard-print suits or flashy gold outfits. You can even choose to go completely shoeless and stroll around barefoot if you wish.
I could spend hours in the Boutique, just like I used to do as a child with my Barbies. Swapping clothing items, accessories, and patterns to create multiple elegant or playful outfits depending on my mood. I know I'll always crave more customization options here, so I hope we can unlock additional choices in the game or perhaps receive a DLC package or two to expand our virtual wardrobes.
After getting all dressed up (I decided against going barefoot with Kiryu), my next destination was the Cabaret Club. Interestingly, the scenes with the hostesses are now all presented in FMV (Full-Motion Video), placing you in a first-person perspective where you don't see Kiryu on the screen. Although this isn't the first time the series has used FMV sequences, it was impressive to witness such a drastic shift. Initially, I thought it might only be the introductory scene for the hostess and then transition to in-game graphics, but Kaname remained remarkably lifelike throughout as she accepted my gift.
That's precisely the kind of thing I fear we'll become too accustomed to. I want to be able to dress the characters down to the smallest detail in every future game, and I also want my hostesses to be in FMV. Gaiden has set a high bar for the series, and I hope that future titles will be able to surpass it.
The Coliseum has also been upgraded, and I was delighted to see that my boy Majima was still in the mix, rocking the show in the battle arena. It was never my favorite mini-game, but it remains equally hilarious and entertaining to face hordes of enemies alongside your own group of familiar characters.
I have always preferred the action-packed combat mechanics over the newer turn-based style of the series, so it felt great to return to that style. Especially with the new Agent style that Kiryu can utilize, incorporating various gadgets and contraptions in battle. I must admit, it was fun to pull enemies forward with a wire, throw a cigarette-shaped bomb, use a drone, and zoom forward with jet-powered shoes. It's hard to say if this is just a new, quickly outdated novelty in the long run and if I will eventually return to the more classic combat style, but in the short time I played, it felt refreshing and entertaining.
Although Gaiden is marketed as a shorter title, one should not consider it as something unworthy. It seems to be brimming with ideas and elements we know and love from the series, while deliberately charting new paths. Although we haven't delved much into the storyline in the preview, I have no doubt that it will live up to expectations. I can't wait to play it properly and delve even further into the Yakuza-Barbie dress-up gameplay.