I’ll be honest, I’ve always enjoyed the Yakuza series from a distance and dipped into the series occasionally. That changed with Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which put Infinite Wealth high on my radar. Now that I’ve spent considerable time in Ichiban’s second adventure, I’ve come away with an even deeper appreciation for the series. Let’s take a look inside and see what Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth has to offer.
The Story of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth picks up where Yakuza: Like a Dragon left off. A little recap for the uninitiated. In Like a Dragon, Kasuga is forced to build up from the ground up after getting shot by the man he considered his second father. After the betrayal, Kasuga gathers a ragtag group of outcasts and takes on Japan’s strongest Yakuza organizations.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is set a few years after that incident. Ichiban Kasuga is now a respectable member of society (about as much as you can be in his position). He works at a government employment agency, a position which he uses to reintegrate and assimilate former Yakuza into civilian life once again.
But alas, all good gigs must eventually come to an end. Ichiban’s end comes about after his character gets assassinated in a public smear campaign by a popular crime VTuber. And in true content creator fashion, the VTuber also mixes in some lies into the truth, making the character assassination all the more deadly.
Long story short, he can’t stay in Japan anymore. Coincidentally, Kasuga learns that his biological mother is still alive in Hawaii and is sent there by a former associate of his from his Yakuza days. With no hope left in Japan, Kasuga must now seek out his fortune in another country.
The World of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth
Infinite Wealth’s story starts out in Japan, however, you’ll be spending most of the game in Hawaii. I don’t know how the developers managed this but they perfectly captured the emotional contrast between the two areas.
Japan feels somber and cold. It feels like a place you are no longer welcome in. In contrast to that, Hawaii feels, well, like Hawaii! It’s always sunny, the ocean’s waves are tranquil, and everyone is having a good time. At least on the surface.
In reality, Hawaii is just as troubled as Japan was back in the previous games. Its outer appearance of tranquility is just a mask for its deep-rooted problems. Gang activities are rampant, and people get killed on the streets and nobody bats an eye.
Now, in normal circumstances, that would be a cause for concern. But, because this is a Yakuza game, that just means that there’s more fun to be had. One man’s gang warfare is another man’s playful encounter.
There Are More Minigames Than You Can Count
One thing that the Yakuza series is famous for is its minigames, and I’m excited to say that the minigames in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth are better than ever. Not only do you have the returning classics like Karaoke, Darts, and Poker, but you also have a whole host of new games.
For example, Crazy Delivery. A Crazy Taxi/ Subway-Surfer inspired game where you have to collect food across the city and deliver it to customers all while performing crazy tricks on your bike. That’s not even the coolest minigame though.
The coolest minigame definitely has to be Sujimon Battles, aka “Definitely-not-Pokemon.” Throughout the world, you’ll encounter different weirdos that you can allure to your side. Once they’ve joined you, you can use them to fight in Pokemon-inspired arenas.
There’s also an online dating game that made me cringe and laugh one too many times and an arcade beat-em-up that’s full of secrets. There’s even a game where you have to take pictures of sexual maniacs that the police use to geolocate and arrest.
It doesn’t end there because there’s a fully fleshed-out resort management minigame that requires you to collect resources to develop your luxurious resort which is unlocked in Chapter 6. There are honestly so many minigames in Infinite Wealth that you can write an entire book about it.
The Gameplay of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth
Infinite Wealth doesn’t really step away that much from the last entry. In essence, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is a turn-based JRPG, and if you’ve played a modern JPRP, you won’t have much trouble adapting to its core mechanics.
You have your basic stats, skills, and different actions that you can take. One thing that I really like about Yakuza’s combat however is the guard mechanic, it gives you some agency to act even if it isn’t your turn.
By hitting guard at the right time you can perform a perfect block, which drastically lowers the damage that enemy attacks do to you, and sometimes even outright canceling them. This makes the fights feel a lot more like street brawls, which I really like.
Enemy diversity also adds an extra layer to this dynamic. Different enemies use different tricks to get the better of you, practically forcing you to adapt to each fight. I honestly cannot sing Yakuza’s praises enough in this regard. It just knows what it is doing and it does it perfectly!
What I Liked About The Game
Infinite Wealth’s greatest strength is its balance. It’s perfectly balanced in every regard, from the story to the gameplay to the polish, and the overall presentation. There is so much to do in the game that you can easily sink hundreds of hours into it and still not get more.
A thing that I particularly admire about the game is how it manages to balance serious moments in its cinematics with goofy moments in its gameplay. It strikes a perfect equilibrium where you still feel invested in the story, despite its glaring quirkiness.
What I Didn’t Like About The Game
Honestly, there aren’t that many things to dislike about Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. The only thing that really stood out to me is how broke you are early on. This might seem like a weird remark to say but hear me out.
The game does a wonderful job of introducing to you a lot of cool activities in the first few chapters. However, most of those activities require money, which you distinctly lack in the first few chapters. So you end up having to lick the bakery’s storefront for the first few chapters until you can get to the good stuff inside.
For long-time Yakuza fans, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is an absolute must-play. It improves on the Yakuza formula that previous games established and adds its own unique charm while making full use of its Hawaiian setting. It’s likewise a good entry point for newcomers looking to get into the series.
In my eyes, Infinite Wealth is an instant classic. Gamers will look back at it in the future and reminisce about how good it was, developers will be inspired by it, and lots of great memories will be created because of it.
What did you think of our review of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth? Share what you think about it in the comments below.
This review is based on the PC version of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. The key was provided by SEGA.