Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review

Richard Walker

Welcome to Hawaii, home of sun, surf, and hula. Home to violent criminal gangs and a cult of religious zealots. Home to a mysterious island no one quite knows the truth about. If you were hoping that Yakuza: Like a Dragon (Ryu ga Gotoku 7) protagonist Ichiban Kasuga was simply going to enjoy a nice holiday in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, think again. Yes, there's ample frivolity to be had, but, as ever, there's a dark tale to be told, with Kasuga and his comrades caught up in the mess. And this time, Kazuma Kiryu is along for the ride, harbouring a troubling secret of his own. Infinite Wealth (aka Yakuza 8) represents another narrative balancing act for developer RGG Studio, then, but if anyone can pull it off…


 

It all starts off happily enough, as Kasuga strolls through Yokohama's glitzy Ijincho with a spring in his step, still high on life as people celebrate his newfound status as the 'Hero of Yokohama'. He's even got a new job at Hello Work, helping ex-yakuza get back on their feet – everything seems to have worked out well for Kasuga. Of course, there's no drama to be wrought from one guy enjoying minor fame and contentment – before long, the shit inevitably hits the fan, and it's off to Hawaii. Interspersed between all of that story are the usual mini-games and side activities, and in that regard the game can feel a little too front-loaded. For the first six or seven chapters, it's difficult to focus on the narrative, as the brakes are slammed on to teach you about the ins and outs of 'Miss Match' dating via your smartphone, competing in a Sujimon Tournament, making friends with the Aloha Links social app, taking part in a Photo Rally, and getting to work on Dondoko Island, to name but a few.

Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio might have done better to spread out Infinite Wealth's myriad side activities a little more evenly, as the surfeit of tutorials and new things frequently thrown at you during those opening chapters quickly becomes exhausting. By the time you've reached the sixth chapter, and ploughed hours into the Animal Crossing-style Dondoko Island, you're then able to take or leave as little or as much of the side content as you like, and, finally, Infinite Wealth's narrative comes into much sharper focus. As long as you go in knowing that it'll take 20+ hours to get to that point, you'll be golden. It's initially quite hard to really get invested in what's going on until you've put in the hard miles, but when Kasuga and Kiryu's twisty-turny yarn hits its stride, it's as good as anything you've experienced in previous Yakuza entries.


 

Furthermore, there's a lot more Kiryu in this than you might expect, which for the long-time Yakuza faithful will come as a welcome surprise. It's a celebration, too, of the main man's journey from Kamurocho and beyond, offering nostalgic reminiscences that will transport you back in time to the heyday of the Tojo Clan and the numerous tumultuous times the Dragon of Dojima has faced over the years. Kasuga remains the lynchpin of the narrative, with new faces Chitose and Tomizawa joining the party, packing their own jobs and weapons. Old friends like Adachi, Nanba, and Saeko return, and those crunchy turn-based mechanics still have the capacity to elicit joy, especially with Kiryu and his brawler, rush, and beast fighting styles present and correct.

Positioning during combat is crucial, as you're able to send multiple enemies reeling with a single strike – it's a natural evolution of what RGG introduced with Yakuza 7, presenting deeper turn-based RPG systems to drill down into, without muddying the waters. You can mitigate damage with a perfect guard by pressing circle at the right time, and, if things are getting desperate, you can still dial for a summonable Poundmate to step in and lend a hand. As your bond grows with your party, you'll also unlock passive combo moves and tag-team abilities, adding more and more strings to your bow as you progress and level up.


 

Amid the RPG action and story, it can be easy to get swept up in substories and side stuff, not least the aforementioned Dondoko Island. From clearing the island of rubbish and persistent interlopers looking to retain the island's status as a dumping ground, to crafting all and sundry at your DIY table, be it buildings, lampposts, toilet facilities, arcade machines, furniture for your home, gumball machines... you get the idea. Once you've created your own beach paradise, you can then purchase and place accommodations for paying guests, then put those 'Dokobucks' to good use expanding your home, boosting your farming endeavours, and further fleshing out your idyll away from mainland Hawaii. It's a gameplay loop that proves enormously addictive – without even thinking, I'd lost a good five hours to messing around on Dondoko Island. And it felt like I'd barely scratched the surface.

Suffice it to say, then, that Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is a massive game. By a country mile, this is the most content-laden instalment yet – far and away the largest in terms of narrative scope and sheer size. Hawaii alone is enormous, before you even factor in the whole of Ijincho and Kamurocho. But size isn't everything, and sometimes, Infinite Wealth's breadth can be slightly overwhelming. Once the story finds its feet, however, Kasuga and Kiryu's saga gains propulsion, making for every bit the compelling yarn RGG Studio consistently manages to cook up. Stick with it, and Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth rewards your patience in spades.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

After a bit of a difficult start, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth soon manages to hit the gas, its story proving an engaging affair amid an ocean of mini-games and other distractions. This is a massive game, but one you'll want to dive headfirst into.

Form widget
87%
Audio
80%

As always, Like a Dragon conjures up memorable tunes, although a lot of them have been carried over from previous games. Voice performances (especially the native Japanese language version) are excellent, too.

Visuals
90%

The series has never been a slouch when it comes to visual loveliness, but Infinite Wealth kicks things up a notch, with rich, detailed character models and environments. Considering the sheer amount of content here, it's remarkable that the level of fidelity is consistent throughout.

Playability
90%

If you enjoyed the turn-based RPG action of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, then the evolution of those systems in Infinite Wealth are sure to delight. That's when you're not wrapped up in the myriad diversions peppered across Honolulu and Ijincho, of course.

Delivery
85%

You can't have too much of a good thing, and that rings true of Infinite Wealth. The issue is that it's all thrown at you during the game's opening chapters. Miss Match dating, dungeons in the Labyrinth, Dondoko Island, Sujimon... It's a lot.

Trophies
75%

Not a particularly imaginative list – you'll have done much of this before. That said, it's good that you're pushed into trying out everything that Infinite Wealth has to offer, and there's no need to achieve 100% on the completion list. Phew.

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