Published: October 12, 2017

Yakuza: Like a Dragon: Demo Preview

In Yakuza 6, Kazuma Kiryu’s story ended – for more than ten years he remained the permanent protagonist of all games in the series. However, the Desura Online Games team is not going to put a fat point on this – it has a story to tell, only with a different main character and many other changes. Recently, a demo version of the upcoming Yakuza: Like a Dragon , a full-fledged part of the series, from the name of which the number 7 was removed from the name in the West, appeared in the Japanese PlayStation Store in order to attract a new audience. In many ways, this is really a breath of fresh air for the series, the authors of which for a long time did not want to part with some of its elements.

The text in the demo is 99% Japanese characters, so the plot details and the meaning of the dialogues will pass by most players. But if this is not your first Yakuza , you will be able to figure out many things without any problems. A short story mission, several side quests, all sorts of mini-games, shops, fights and much more are available. We play as a man named Ichiban Kasuga, who is always accompanied by his companions. And the events unfold in a completely new location near the city of Yokohama, although Kamurocho seems to be also promised to be shown in the final version.

The new area is noticeably larger than Kamurocho, and after so many games in the series it is unusual to walk through unfamiliar streets, not knowing what awaits you around the next bend. But you already begin to understand approximately where side tasks will begin to appear, which places to visit and how best to plan the road to the next point in order to go to the eatery on the way and have a hearty meal. Although it is not very convenient that in the southwestern part of the map there are no restaurants at all, there are many of them in other areas.

From the very first minutes, the demo offers to evaluate one of the most important innovations, which divided the fans of the series into two camps. We are talking, of course, about a turn-based combat system – now you don’t pick up a bicycle and don’t throw hooligans in different directions in a couple of seconds, but take turns, acting not alone, but in a squad of four. At the beginning of the “demo” there are three of you, one more companion will become available almost immediately, in the full version they will certainly allow you to choose other companions.

The authors explain the turn-based fights very simply: the protagonist is a fan of Dragon Questand pretends to be in one of the games in the series. Therefore, even opponents here sometimes look comical – as soon as the battle begins, they turn into large fat “tanks” or arm themselves with a stick and a garbage can lid, which is used as a shield. JRPG references don’t end there – just remember the walking “pixelated” images of Ichibana and his comrades on the loading screen or a short musical sample that plays when a new companion joins the group – just like in Dragon Quest.

To be honest, I was also skeptical and hardly understood how such a “battle” would fit into Yakuza . But it was worth trying it personally – and all doubts disappeared. The idea is perfectly implemented, the dynamics are not lost, the camera does not stand still and chooses the right angles, thanks to which the pace remains ideal. Although almost all moves are aimed at only one opponent, during their execution it is possible to hit other enemies, inflicting bonus damage on them. And if, after your next blow, the enemy is next to your partner, he will kick or hit him, even if it is not his turn now. This also works the other way around – one of my companions got unlucky during a fight in a small room in a side quest.

All characters, when it is their turn, can simply hit the opponent, perform a special move, use the item in the inventory (eat something or drink) and skip the turn. Techniques are the most interesting part of the battles, as there are many of them and they are all accompanied by great animations. Someone shakes up a bottle of champagne and pours the enemy, someone lies on their side and sleeps for a couple of seconds to restore health, the girl puffs perfume on herself in order to temporarily improve her characteristics. The steeper the skill, the more energy (or mana, if you will) will be spent on it. After the battle, neither energy nor health is restored – you need to go to a restaurant. The very first button there allows you to immediately buy enough food to fill all the corresponding scales, although you can also study the menu in the old fashioned way.

In connection with all this, the equipment system has been developed. All heroes have several slots in their inventory: one for weapons, three for “armor” (head, torso and shoes) and two for accessories. In the demo, three stores with these goods are open: here are swords, helmets, sabers, and handbags – it is always written which character is suitable for which and which indicators are improving. Someone may have increased attack power, someone will increase their defense. Some of this was in the Yakuza before, but most of the time it could be ignored, but here a careless attitude to equipment will certainly lead to problems in fights.

The ability to wear certain things also depends on the chosen profession, and at least in the demo, you can change it at any time by visiting a special building. The profession affects the skills and appearance of the hero during fights – Ichiban, for example, changes into a break dancer with a cap on his head and chains around his neck, or tries on a different costume, although he looks normal outside of battles. You can make someone a master of fist fighting, acquire skills in using melee weapons or become a kind of magician who imposes “debuffs” on enemies, restores health to allies and improves their characteristics. After battles, both the level of the character and the rank of the profession increase, which opens up additional opportunities. The main thing is that the character does not “die” in a fight, otherwise he will be left without experience.

As a result, fight inLike a Dragon is almost more fun than the old Yakuza. The degree of madness has not decreased, as well as the dynamics, although it would seem. With special techniques, several professions, appeals (they could not be understood because of the language, but they are here and are accompanied by funny videos), the ability to block blows by pressing X, and not to stand with a pillar, and other subtleties and details “fight” turns out spectacular and not boring. If you want to try it yourself – in the demo, the tricks menu opens to the “Triangle”, and thanks to the icons next to all the skills, it’s easy to understand what happens when you use them. Street fights with hooligans, by the way, can hardly be called protracted – they take no more than a minute.

Otherwise, this is Yakuza as we know it. It’s difficult to talk about the plot yet, but there have been no frankly disappointing numbered parts for a long time, and here they plan to make the main story almost twice as long as in previous games. The city is full of entertainment and mini-games – from karaoke and mahjong to funny races in which you and your competitors collect trash on the streets and dodge cars. And the side quests, of which there are 52, will surely turn out to be no less interesting than before. One of them will make you remember some “side” from Yakuza Kiwami 2 , which is remembered for its absurdity more than others.

Hopefully, the Yakuza: Like a Dragon demo will be translated into English and released globally, so that anyone worried about major gameplay changes can breathe a sigh of relief. The battles turned out to be fun, the mechanics associated with them do not seem to be unfinished yet, the new map turned out to be no worse than the previous one. Of course, parting with Kiryu is difficult (although, judging by the trailer, he will be back for at least a couple of minutes), but there is no reason not to give the new hero and his story a chance. Judging by the demo, a gorgeous gift is being prepared for Yakuza fans – the main thing is that it doesn’t take too long to wait for localization.





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