Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name (PlayStation 5) – Gaming Review

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is a spin-off from the hugely popular Like a Dragon series (Formerly known in the west as Yakuza) and takes place after the events of Yakuza 6: The Song of Life and amongst the overall timeline of 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

Kazuma Kiryu, the main character of the previous Yakuza games, is now under the guise of a secret agent and has gone into hiding following Yakuza 6: The Song of Life’s ending. No longer is he Kazuma Kiryu, but now named simply ‘Joryu’. Whilst in hiding and aiding the Daidoji faction under his new identity, a mission unfortunately goes awry and not as planned, resulting Kiryu to come out of hiding and face a new threat looming over.

Unlike the previous entry mentioned above, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, The Man Who Erased His Name returns to familiar territory with action-adventure beat-‘em-up type brawl gameplay and ditches the turn-based JRPG gameplay from Yakuza: Like a Dragon, feeling like a welcome and familiar return to the series’ roots.

The verdict on the gameplay though? It should be no surprise to anyone that this game is extremely fun to play. If you are familiar with how prior Yakuza games play or are a hardcore Yakuza/Like a Dragon fan, then you will feel right at home here. Here, Joryu can punch and kick enemies like there’s no tomorrow, and it feels extremely fun to do so.

Mentioned in our impression review last month from PAX Australia 2023, Joryu has two different fighting styles: Yakuza and Agent. Yakuza is your standard typical fighting gameplay you know and love from previous entries, whilst Agent allows you to use gadgets Joryu has access to for fighting, such as throwing rope around enemies and crashing them into other enemies or the surrounding environment. Agent’s gameplay style is more for precision and speed when it comes to combat and allows more ways to shake up the gameplay and experiment.

Like also mentioned in the impression review, this is a nice change of pace and a breath of fresh air to the combat rather than feeling ‘same-same’ with just beating up enemies and button mashing. The gadget underneath your health gauge is something referred to as the ‘heat gauge’. This gauge increases as you land successful attacks on enemies and once filled up to a certain point, you can unleash ‘heat actions’ against enemies where button prompts appear on-screen near injured enemies (allowing for some comedic moments of NPCs getting absolutely annihilated in typical Yakuza humour) and even activate something called ‘Extreme Heat Mode’, allowing Joryu to unleash extremely powerful attacks much stronger than normal, something that is so fun to absolutely unleash and beat the crap out of enemies.

In addition to these two gameplay styles, Joryu can have his abilities upgraded with obtaining manuals that you can buy with enough money you have saved up to extend your health, have better attack stats, and so on. The Yakuza/Like a Dragon games have implemented things like a skill tree or upgradable abilities similar in the past, so this is also very much something to feel at home with for longtime fans who may know this series inside out. Again, adding a simple but good layer to a great gameplay system.

Unlike previous entries in the Yakuza/Like a Dragon series, The Man Who Erased His Name is a much shorter and more ‘bite sized’ entry, if you will, before we get into the next upcoming mainline title in the franchise.

Noticeably shorter than prior games, this honestly is not a bad thing, and in fact, I liked that this game was quicker to get through rather than a very lengthy Like a Dragon game. I didn’t feel so exhausted or overwhelmed when it came to this game, which is something I sometimes feel whenever I delve into the Yakuza/Like a Dragon games. I have no issues with ‘long’ or ‘lengthy’ games (I’m a huge fan of the Metal Gear Solid series, so I am absolutely no stranger to movie-like length games at all) but it was a little refreshing to play a Yakuza game and not feel a tad exhausted by how much left there is to do in just the main campaign alone. Short and sweet in all the right places, this made my time with the game fun and exciting.

But don’t worry, there are side things to do if you want to step away from main story and play for longer! Aside from the typical side missions like prior games have had, there are plenty of mini games to find and play, such as karaoke and fighting arena (Something I tried in the demo build at PAX Australia 2023!) and even real-life SEGA Master System games can be found and played! It’s a cool and neat addition to give the game a little extra more, although these games have always featured plenty of side activities, so it’s not extremely new and fresh, but it’s still great.

I also feel that due to the shorter length of this game, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio had a great opportunity to have a story not feel so padded this time around, whilst thankfully still managing to make it emotionally engaging right to the very end. Yakuza/Like a Dragon games have managed to be emotionally gripping at times and thankfully, The Man Who Erased His Name is no exception. I only say this because whilst I adored 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon’s story with the new face of the franchise, Ichiban Kasuga and his adventures in his own story, I couldn’t help but feel it started to drag a little and felt little tiresome towards the end. Here, I did not feel this way and was interested right up to the end. Quite the relief given this game is much shorter and felt more focused in that sense.

With all that said, it must be noted that this is, by far, the best looking Like a Dragon game to date. The visuals in this game are top-notch, with character models and environments having never looked better and realistic than before. Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has always managed to carefully craft their games to look their absolute best, but this one truly takes the cake.

It’s not even just the graphics that are impressive, but the way the surrounding environment is being interacted with. Something as simple as when I absolutely punched the crap out of an NPC thug on the street and won the fight against some enemies I encountered, their blood actually splattered all over a nearby van, something so obscure to notice and adds absolutely nothing to the narrative, but it just a nice little touch to detail that Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio implemented that really shows their intricacy in creating a detailed and somewhat interactive world. On top of that, coming in with an impressive 60fps all throughout, the game ran smoothly for me and played the part whilst simultaneously looking gorgeous.

At the end of the day, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio have delivered another solid and excellent game in this ever-growing and popular series. Whilst shorter than other entries and simply being a somewhat tease for the anticipated Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, The Man Who Erased His Name is a great and very fun game combined with a satisfying and well-written story that will provide a positive experience for hardcore Yakuza/Like a Dragon fans. Don’t skip this one.

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.

Sign up to receive weekly updates on our most recent reviews.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *