Review: 'Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth' Is an Impressive Achievement in Storytelling

Review: ‘Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth’ Is an Impressive Achievement in Storytelling Leave a comment

Issues weren’t wanting good for Ichiban and pals. A corrupt police officer and half a dozen of his cronies cornered us in a sleazy dive bar, and we had been horribly underleveled. With a single button faucet, the tables turned—or, extra precisely, exploded into a whole bunch of items. I summoned Chitose “Buster” Holmes, a formidable henchwoman with spiked steel balls connected to her arms. She works for a hero supply firm, and proceeded to decimate the bar, pound the sheriff right down to dimension, and present me how good Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth’s battles may very well be. I wanted that reminder after a tough begin and a few confused storytelling.

Then got here the chaser: an intensely shifting scene that expertly wove difficult real-life subjects with among the most considerate character growth in video gaming. (No spoilers.)

In lower than quarter-hour, developer Ryu Ga Gotoku (RGG) delivered a one-two punch that hammered out my wavering confidence in Infinite Wealth, and it didn’t falter once more. Regardless of getting off to a tough begin and having a number of experimental concepts that don’t fairly land as they need to, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is RGG Studio’s finest work so far and an outstanding RPG.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth opens 4 years after Yakuza: Like a Dragon, RGG’s first try at turn-based RPGs and the debut outing for our hero Ichiban Kasuga—and quite a bit has modified. In Yakuza: Like a Dragon, appeal born from awkward depth and ignorance characterize Ichiban, a 40-year-old man robbed of the possibility to cease being a younger grownup. That keenness stays in Infinite Wealth, however lived expertise, grief, and earnest conviction refine it into one thing extra highly effective and plausible.

He lastly grew up, in different phrases, and reached a stage of emotional maturity that even some real-life adults by no means handle to seek out.

In the meantime, Kazuma Kiryu, Infinite Wealth’s second protagonist and the hero of Yakuza 0 by way of Yakuza 6: The Music of Life, has all of the opportunites of an getting older particular person with no safety community and few alternatives for development. (That’s to say, none.) It’s no secret that Kiryu is dying from most cancers in Infinite Wealth—Sega even made it a focus of the sport’s video promoting—however RGG makes use of it for greater than only a surprising plot twist and combines it with commentary on getting older in surprisingly delicate methods.

Infinite Wealth’s new setting in Hawaii is massive and exquisite, and it additionally appears like pointless change for the sake of change. One of many Like a Dragon (beforehand Yakuza) sequence’ strongest factors is the way it makes use of targeted tales as reflections of a cultural drawback, and whereas these eventualities are all the time rooted in Japanese society, the insights and classes from them are common. RGG used Yokohama in Yakuza 7 and Misplaced Judgment as a platform for inspecting social injustice. Hawaii simply appears like a vacationer entice, particularly in Infinite Wealth’s first half.

Okay, Ichiban is a vacationer there, so a vacationer’s perspective is sensible. He was new to Yokohama in Yakuza: Like a Dragon as nicely, although, and that didn’t cease him from championing the homeless and different susceptible folks that society missed. Infinite Wealth is lacking the wealthy connection between individuals and place that normally offers Yakuza video games their id, and hardly something that occurs in Hawaii couldn’t have occurred in Japan. I think the selection was partly an experimental one and partly thematic—experimental, to see how the sequence may operate in one other setting, and thematic, to emphasise the distinction between Infinite Wealth’s two halves.

Whereas I don’t assume Hawaii provides a lot outdoors of that distinction, RGG did make use of a distinct type of storytelling right here as an alternative, one which’s rather more fascinating than a contemporary setting and elevates the sequence to its highest level but. Slightly than cultural contact factors, Infinite Wealth goes deep into connections between individuals—finally.

Infinite Wealth borrows Yakuza: Like a Dragon’s narrative construction for higher and worse. It begins with a false begin earlier than hurling Ichiban alone right into a harmful new setting with nothing to his title. The broader narrative facilities on two MacGuffin hunts for roughly 10 hours, first as Ichiban appears for his mom, Akane, after which as he tries monitoring down the one that stole his passport—and, by extension, any chance of him returning house.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon gave Ichiban a mission that formed his actions within the recreation’s opening act. Infinite Wealth doesn’t have that type of construction, and the early chapters transfer, in some way, extra slowly than the earlier recreation’s did. RGG’s distinctive character writing and Sega’s equally distinctive localization imply Infinite Wealth continues to be satisfying in these opening hours. It’s simply extra of a slice-of-life Yakuza visible novel than anything.

Every thing modified close to on the finish of Infinite Wealth’s third chapter after a sequence of scenes that helped coalesce all of the concepts I had about what level Infinite Wealth needed to make right into a strong imaginative and prescient.

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