TechRadar Gaming is reporting live from Gamescom 2023 on the latest and greatest developments in gaming and hardware.
The next game in the Yakuza pantheon, Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, looks set to live up to this series’ impressive record.
Taking place between the events of Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (released in 2016) and Yakuza: Like a Dragon (released in 2020), you play as once legendary yakuza, Kazuma Kiryu - who had previously faked his death and abandoned his name to protect his family. Now you must fight through the criminal world as an unknown figure attempts to force Kiryu out of hiding.
TRG got to have a hands-on experience with this upcoming action RPG at Gamescom 2023 and, despite only being 20 minutes, we got to explore the mysterious, beautiful, and somewhat degenerate Osaka Castle in all its glory.
Flown in by helicopter, Kiryu is brought to the floating Osaka Castle to fight in the colosseum, a legendary fighting cage arena - where you must prove your worth. Kiryu used to be renowned for his combat skills, but the question is, does he still have what he takes?
Before you can even experience all the wonders of this floating castle you are made to prove your toughness, as the Prime Minister and a gaggle of men block your entrance. This is used as a short tutorial to help you practice all of your rusty martial arts skills. You can entangle them with a blue rope, deploy drones, charge them down in a ball of fire, or you can throw in a lit cigarette and walk away as it explodes, sending your enemies flying.
All of the fighting skills are familiarly outlandish yet reliably cool and fluid. You can use them in sequence with blocking to get some brilliant hits in before using your finishing move. Most games which have combat systems will include a finishing move as a sort of reward for eating your vegetables and blocking or fighting well. Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is no different as you get a three-part finisher in which Kiryu shows off his martial arts and sends his enemies flying.
Are you not entertained?
All of the skills that were taught to you during the snap-shot gang fight will come in handy once you enter the colosseum. In here you can choose one of three modes: tournament, hell rumble, and special event matches.
During a tournament, players will go face to face with one other opponent in a fight-to-the-death style match. 'Special Event Matches' will apparently involve “extraordinary fights on rare occasions” for only the best competitors, and 'Hell Rumble' forces Kiryu into a cage ring where he will either have to defeat everyone within a time limit for the silver option or defeat 100 consecutive opponents for the platinum one.
In our hands-on, I was only able to compete in the Hell Rumble - but this was still thrilling. The silver option wasn't too difficult as enemies tend to stagger themselves when fighting you, however, that doesn’t mean you should take anything for granted. The platinum option was much more engaging as you fought through multiple bloody rounds each including either dozens of goons or a smaller number of special characters. I faced up against a chef, a ninja, and someone with a mask and an all-leather suit.
The fighting was fluid and the controls were easy to master, making it very easy to feel super cool when taking down enemy after enemy in such a crowded fight.
The winning hand
But the colloseum isn’t the only thing on offer in Osaka Castle. There are also a number of mini-games available for players to pass the time in.
With three on the main boulevard and a shop to spruce up your look, I had time to quickly nip into the cabaret and casino for some much-needed downtime. Entering the casino I didn’t have much hope for my gambling skills, however, once I sat down on a low-stake blackjack table I knew I was in for a win, and that I did.
My winnings amounted to ¥2,000 which I could then use to either buy an outfit at the shop or more chips to gamble away. I chose to cut and run with my money. You can also earn money by winning fights, all of which can then be used in mini-games, creating something like a self-sustaining economy.
While it was a lot of fun navigating the luscious halls of Osaka Castle, spending time in both the combat-focused areas as well as the gambling halls, time will tell how truly engaging this upcoming RPG will be, as there’s still a lot left to learn.