The Like a Dragon series has delighted players for over a decade with its signature blend of hard-hitting action, melodramatic crime stories, and offbeat humor. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth marks the triumphant return of franchise hero Ichiban Kasuga as he teams up with legendary yakuza Kiryu Kazuma for another round of criminal conspiracy-busting. This time, the action moves from the neon-lit streets of Japan to the sunny shores of Hawaii.
After losing his job and striking out with his crush, down-on-his-luck Ichiban travels overseas to finally meet his long lost mother. But soon after arriving, he gets tangled up in a dangerous plot involving shady police, ruthless gangs, and a mysterious local cult. With lives on the line, Ichiban crosses paths with Kiryu, who lends his bone-breaking talents to the investigation.
Together, this mismatched duo of brawlers plunge fists-first into another twisty and offbeat escapade. Infinite Wealth doubles down on Like a Dragon’s successful turn-based battling by giving players more control and combo opportunities. An expanded job system also lets you customize each character’s fighting style for added variety. Outside of combat, Hawaii provides a vibrant and detailed new setting stuffed with all the signature side activities fans have come to expect. From wacky substories to a deep Animal Crossing-inspired island builder, there’s no shortage of diversions.
While the slower pacing and bloated main storyline can test one’s patience, Infinite Wealth ultimately delivers with its lovable cast, tactical brawls, and wealth of content. By blending heartfelt drama with riotous action, this entry keeps the series’ open-world RPG flame burning bright.
Roll Up Your Sleeves for Frenetic Turn-Based Fights
If you thought Yakuza would ditch fisticuffs for its turn-based shift last time, Infinite Wealth proves the series is still obsessed with creative ways to kick butt. This brawler packs even more stipes and throws into its tactical combat by emulating the rough-and-tumble physicality of the franchise’s signature street fights. Get ready to dish out flying dropkicks, back-alley beatdowns, and other bone-crunching attacks across the sunny shores of Hawaii.
Building on the foundations of Yakuza: Like a Dragon,Infinite Wealth’s turn-based battles now feature more dynamic positioning and movement. At the start of each round, players can freely relocate their party members around the arena within a set range. This mobility lets you maneuver behind foes for extra damage or place long-range fighters in ideal sniping spots. Fighting smartly now means more than just selecting abilities.
Movement also unlocks environment-based attacks. If an enemy is standing near an explosive barrel, knock them into it for splash damage. Then sweep kick them while they’re down for bonus hurt. Chaining moves between characters opens up slick cooperative attacks too. Have one hero slam a thug straight into the air so another can karate kick them into tomorrow. The added spacial tactics infuse traditional turn-taking with more vibrancy and options.
Of course, Infinite Wealth expands the outrageous job system as well. Alongside returning roles like Gangster and Host, fresh classes like Aquanaut (a surfboard/harpoon wielding fighter) and Desperado (dual-gun wielding cowboy) continue diversifying your roster. Level up jobs to unlock their signature attacks and spells for maximum brawling potential. My favorite is the Game of Death job that turns Kiryu into a Bruce Lee clone, dishing out flying kicks while dressed in that iconic yellow tracksuit.
And no Yakuza game would be complete without Heat Actions. Kiryu can build his Heat gauge in battle to unleash his Extreme Heat mode. This shifts the fight into real-time action as Kiryu lays the smackdown with traditional combo chains and ground slams. These brief Beat ‘Em Up throwbacks marry the best aspects of the series’ past and present combat styles.
Nailing that balance has paid off with Infinite Wealth’s fights. The difficulty curve stays steady thanks to clear level recommendations for story missions and avoidable enemy encounters when you out level certain areas. Branching development through jobs and bonds between characters means you have more freedom to experiment with builds too. Whether I created an all-out offensive blitz squad or a defensive tank healing setup, I felt adequately challenged without unreasonable spikes outside major boss showdowns.
Between the tactical positioning, tag-team havoc, and job experimentation, Infinite Wealth’s rowdy rumbles build upon Like a Dragon’s fresh foundations with faster, harder-hitting warfare. Hawaiian shirts and brawls? Count me in!
A Bittersweet Buddy Cop Tale
Infinite Wealth attempts to juggle a lot narratively between its dual leads of Kazuma Kiryu and Ichiban Kasuga. It aims for a passing of the torch story as the aging Dragon of Dojima reckons with his criminal past while the eager hero steps toward his future. There are highs that tap into the series’ strongest suit of layered character writing, but also uneven pacing and thematic elements that undermine the ambitious premise.
Firstly, the odd couple dynamic works wonderfully. Kiryu plays the stoic straight man to Ichiban’s relentlessly optimistic attitude. Their conflicting personalities bounce off each other in entertaining ways, both in serious drama and comic relief. Kiryu’s introspective arc focuses on making amends across his expansive history, from tense confrontations to finding closure. These moments range from darkly sobering to unexpectedly heartwarming depending on the history being addressed.
Meanwhile, Ichiban remains a fountain of boisterous energy, even as he too searches for personal answers regarding his lost family ties. His charismatic presence energizes scenes, though he tends to dominate focus through lackluster stretches of story. I wanted to see more substantive growth from Ichiban that matches his previous characterization rather than mostly cheap laughs at his expense.
The supporting cast pulls its weight as well, with returning fan-favorites and newcomers like detective Eric Tomizawa fitting seamlessly into the dynamic. Each receives thoughtful writing that meaningfully moves them forward by the finale. Even villains like machete-wielding Danny Trejo leave a strong impression through menacing charm and intimidation.
If only the overarching plot held everything together more tightly. The first act lays effective groundwork regarding criminal conspiracy themes and the realities of reintegration into normal society after prison. But much of the bloated mid-section squanders momentum by continuously introducing underdeveloped antagonists and plot devices that lack narrative punch. The stakes feel muddled and emotionally distant as a result.
Just when it seems the cluttered story might collapse under its own weight, things pick back up through the relationships cultivated along the way. The series has always succeeded on character writing over plot, and that holds true even as Infinite Wealth stumbles narratively. Quieter moments of personal reflection and bonds between unlikely friends ultimately carry more weight.
Those relationships feel elevated further against the rarely seen Hawaiian backdrop. Escaping haunted pasts by starting fresh in paradise is an alluring premise. Commentary about public perception in the internet age and issues like police corruption adds modern relevance too. But social themes lose focus the deeper into a meandering conspiracy Infinite Wealth wanders without tying things together clearly.
At its best, Infinite Wealth tugs the heartstrings through thoughtful character writing while expanding the series’ tonal range. But an overstuffed story and inconsistent pacing hampers those highs more often than one would hope.
An Archipelago Overflowing With Activities
Beyond bashing heads, Infinite Wealth offers the deepest well of things to occupy your time yet. The expanded Honolulu setting blends familiar Yakuza distractions with plenty of fresh diversions across its bustling beaches and back alleys. Mini-games, layered side quests, and an addictive meta-game give you ample justification to ignore the story and just goof off for hours.
Firstly, the recreation of Hawaii impresses with small details that capture the culture’s relaxed atmosphere. NPC dialogue references regional history,Repeats of “Hawaii” local cuisine fills in for healing items, and ambient ukulele music completes the vacation vibe. The boardwalk of Waikiki looks directly lifted from my own Hawaiian vacations down to the statue of legendary surfer, Duke Kahanamoku. Impressively spacious backstreets left me satisfied exploring every nook and cranny too.
As expected, substories run the absurd gamut from human trafficking organ harvesting comedies to stopping B-movie alien invasions. Some channel that unhinged Yakuza creativity better than others, but between kooky characters, bizarre premises, and unexpected conclusions, I appreciated the variety even when jokes fell flat. That wackiness extends into other activities as well like…interesting Tinder conversations. The writing equally impresses during subtler moments too though, spinning more relatable and heartfelt tales.
Of course, classics like karaoke and Sega arcade games return alongside recent additions like go-kart racing and robot building. But the major new distraction is Dondoko Island which evokes Animal Crossing with custom resort development. Charming crafting loops let you gather materials across Honolulu to erect structures, decorate interiors, and landscape exteriors to attract new visitors. It’s a robust creative playground where I loved lazily customizing household items like rugs and candles without pressure.
There’s also a fun pirate ship battling mini-game connected to island progress. These raids task you with coordinating cannon volleys and character skills to repel invasions, adding light combat engagement separate from normal fights. Everything combines for a fulfilling slow burn meta-game that hooked me as deeply as the combat.
Even with underwhelming segments, Infinite Wealth bursting with so much quality content that you can burn hours upon hours without even advancing the story. Between amusement park jobs, sprawling virtual vacations, and human cannonball substories, this entry feels stuffed to the brim with diversions for all player types. Now take a breather and grab some shave ice!
Sun, Surf, and Style
It’s clear developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio poured immense effort into realizing a postcard vision of Hawaii beyond treating it solely as aesthetic backdrop. From grand vistas of mountainous rainforests to cramped food stalls teeming with detail, Infinite Wealth is visually striking while maintaining the seasoned technical prowess expected from the Yakuza engine.
Vibrant urban density gives Honolulu an atmospheric edge for street skirmishing alongside picturesque beaches and lush jungles for escape. Characters sport flowery shirts and straw hats that lean into the tropical setting without looking gaudy. Little touches like sea turtles basking on rocks or leaves fluttering individually showcase the improved environmental conception too.
On sound design, Infinite Wealth finds a balance between energetic rockin’ riffs for its dynamic fights and breezy acoustic melodies fitting the laid-back environs while out exploring. Voice acting reaches impressive Hollywood-worthy range in both Japanese and English as well thanks to talent like George Takei and Danny Trejo. Hearing the latter menacingly murmur threats to a trembling Ichiban alone justified playing in English.
I also appreciated efforts to smooth common open world rough edges. Tutorials never overstay their welcome, map locations update objectives so you always know where to go, and the ability to instantly skip irrelevant random battles removes needless padding during the endgame stretch. Everything combines to cut unnecessary fat that often drags similar games down.
Some texture pop-in, finicky collision detection, and inconsistent cutscene pacing do occasionally rear up, but mostly Infinite Wealth makes its 50-hour-plus runtime feel properly paced as both visual and interactive spectacle. When soaking up the island atmosphere, you’ll hardly mind the occasional rough wave among paradise.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review – Get Your Passport Ready for This Hawaiian Getaway
For all its high points, Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth is bound to test certain players’ patience at times. A bloated middle portion drags with underdeveloped new antagonists and uneven pacing that loses focus on grander themes established early on. While lead performances raise dramatic stakes admirably, the overarching plot often stumbles chasing its ambitions.
But worth highlighting again are the strengths carried over from Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Characters remain the driving force, with meaningful growth and emotional resonance buoying things during narrative lulls. When combat enters, Infinite Wealth also proves this series has found an ideal gameplay identity as a turn-based RPG. Livelier positioning mechanics and expanded job variety reinforce that tactical fighting spirit far better than before. Both in and out of combat, characters shine brightly as the connective tissue.
And we can’t gloss over the absurd wealth of oddball side content either. Dondoko Island alone can occupy free time for days with its layered crafting and customization hooks. When adding in wackier diversions like human cannon substories or a full-blown Crazy Taxi mode called Super Dangerous Delivery, players looking to inhabit this escapist criminal paradise will find depths worth plunging into again and again.
Infinite Wealth doesn’t reach the dramatic heights of older series high watermarks, but requisite genre padding tends to drag those down too on replays. For all its faults, this follow-up remains irresistibly replayable based on strengths of its overarching framework, style, and heart. That makes it easy to recommend to Yakuza fans. And if you’ve yet to take the plunge into RGG’s long-running saga, this represent an accommodating entry point filled to bursting with infectious personality. Just don’t blame me later once Hawaii starts calling your name after the credits roll. Aloha!
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth delivers another meaty serving of RGG Studio’s irresistible criminal escapism recipe. A wayward main plot barely stifles enjoyable character moments and additions that expand its tactical combat and open-world diversions. Some pacing problems and half-baked themes may test patience, but the overall vacation is still worth the lengthy flight.
- Greatly improved, dynamic turn-based combat
- Expanded job system allows for more customization
- Hawaii setting brings vibrant new open world
- Memorable new and returning characters
- Tons of absurd and entertaining side content
- Addictive island resort builder meta-game
- Story pacing issues drag down middle sections
- Bloated plot overly stuffed with new factions
- Ichiban's character seems to regress
- Thematically unfocused compared to first game