Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth represents something of a culmination of the franchise so far, telling a gripping tale that can be as hilarious as it is heart-wrenching.
Heartfelt narrative that expertly balances drama and humor
Hugely improved turn-based battle system
A ton of compelling side content
Performance dips in some busier areas
Classes are still gender-locked
Why you can trust TechRadar
Platform reviewed: PS5
Available on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Release date: January 26, 2024
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is a special game with an enthralling narrative that expertly weaves its new characters and plot points with the series’ past. It’s a story that’s as thrilling and intense as it is heartwarming and - occasionally - genuinely hilarious.
That said, it is a story that’s got plenty of that ‘for the fans’ energy about it. Of course, this is exactly what longtime Like a Dragon fans will want to hear. But it can understandably leave complete newcomers feeling a little lost.
Infinite Wealth knows this, though, and confidently leans into the fact that it’s a capstone on a story that’s nearly 20 years in the making. And for newer players, it still has its own narrative that’s wholly unique and captivating. But, fans who’ve stuck with Yakuza since its earliest days will be rewarded with a tale that feels deeply personal and plenty bittersweet. Best of all, Infinite Wealth hasn’t lost its ability to make you smile and laugh to balance out its bleaker moments.
Gripping narrative aside, Infinite Wealth iterates greatly on the switch to a turn-based battle system that started with 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon. New and returning party members have access to even more classes and skills. Additionally, enemy AI has been vastly improved, and boss fights feel significantly less spongy while still offering a high degree of challenge.
All that plus some of the best side content in a Yakuza game to date and you have a game that could potentially take you upwards of 100 hours to finish. However, it was all so compelling that I never once felt the game was overstaying its welcome.
Across the pond
Taking place a few years after the last game, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth sees protagonist Ichiban Kasuga resume a quiet life, helping former yakuza members ease back into the civilian world. After a viral video frames him as a fraudster, however, he’s offered the chance to escape the spotlight by trekking over to Honolulu, Hawaii. Here, his mother - once thought to be deceased - seems to be alive and well.
Aided by native Hawaiian cab driver Eric Tomizawa, exchange student Chitose Fujinomiya, and the Dragon of Dojima himself, Kazuma Kiryu, Kasuga soon learns that there’s much more to his mother’s whereabouts than initially thought. What follows is a story that - as we’ve come to expect from the series - slowly unravels a plot with multiple factions at play and potentially thousands of lives at stake.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth’s narrative is comfortably one of the series’ best. In an early scene, Kasuga’s relief when Kiryu comes to his rescue is palpable, and their bonding throughout always made me smile.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth takes a dual-protagonist approach this time around. At first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about this; Kasuga is firmly positioned as the new face of the franchise, and taking time away from his story initially felt jarring. However, Kiryu’s got no shortage of unfinished business left to attend to. And as a result, his side of the story simultaneously plays out like a victory lap and more definitive closure. For the most part, though, Infinite Wealth’s story is well-paced and offers ample time to explore both Honolulu and the returning setting of Yokohama’s Isezaki Ijincho district.
It’s fantastic to see Yakuza: Like a Dragon’s cast all return, too, and here they’re better fleshed out than before. Nanba, Koichi Adachi, and Saeko Mukoda have all matured greatly, and their personalities shine brighter than ever. Additionally, the Geomijul faction’s head, Seonhee, is now a fully-fledged party member and along with Chitose adds some much-needed female rep that the previous game sorely lacked.
Take it outside
Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio is clearly much more confident in the direction it’s taking the mainline series now, and this really shows in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth’s battle system. As such, it’s worth noting now that many of the flaws from Yakuza: Like a Dragon’s debut attempt at turn-based battling have been addressed here (as noted above) but there are plenty of additions that made me actively seek out fights in the hub cities.
The first big change you’ll notice is that characters can now move in a defined radius in battle. This opens up tons of new options in combat. You can position characters to attack an enemy from behind, guaranteeing a critical hit. Several abilities have also been reworked to activate in a long, straight line or a circular area-of-effect, thus hitting multiple targets at once. These can be occasionally tricky to line up, as enemies also tend to move around during your turn, but nailing these abilities for big damage and crowd control always feels fantastic.
There’s a whole bunch of new classes to swap your party members into. A personal favorite of mine is the Aquanaut, who fights with a surfboard and can deal huge water damage to enemies while providing buffs to allies. The Samurai’s great, too, if you’re looking for a straightforward damage powerhouse. The agile Kunoichi’s another strong addition, able to continuously boost agility which then allows other abilities to hit even harder. Oh, she can throw bees as well.
One very welcome addition here is that by leveling these classes, you’re able to carry their skills to others. Essentially, this means you can patch up a class’s weaknesses with more powerful abilities. At a certain point in the story, you’ll also unlock access to all the previous game’s classes, giving you even more options.
Unfortunately, classes are still locked by gender. This means Saeko, Chitose, and Seonhee won’t have access to classes like Aquanaut and Action Star. And the lads won’t be able to become Geodancers or Night Queens. It’s a bit of a missed opportunity that I feel prevents the class system from being as deep as it otherwise could have been.
Stay a while
It wouldn’t be a Like a Dragon title without reams of compelling side content. Infinite Wealth provides some of the best in the series to date. You’ve got the usual helping of side stories acting as optional quests, which typically unlock handy rewards such as new weapons or helpful ‘Poundmate’ allies to call into battle.
The first of two meaty side content offerings is the Sujimon League - Pokémon battling with a delightfully Yakuza twist. Defeating enemies in battle (or at dedicated ‘Raid’ spots on the world map) gives you a chance to recruit a baddie to your side. With them, you can compete in turn-based Sujimon battles to climb your way through the ranks, even earning gym badges on the way. It’s so hilariously on the nose that I can’t help but love the cheekiness of it all.
It’s surprisingly deep, too, with Sujimon all possessing elemental types and special abilities. Some - and I’m not kidding here - can even evolve into a much more powerful Sujimon when upgraded enough. And best of all, as I was thinking it would be awesome to use my Sujimon in actual battles, the game answered. Kasuga can unlock the unique Sujimancer class that lets him summon Sujimon to perform magical abilities. It’s so utterly charming and brilliant.
For something a bit more laid back, then, you’ve got Dondoko Island, which unlocks early in the story. Something of an Animal Crossing-style ‘home away from home,’ here you’re greeted by popular real-life Japanese mascots Gachapin and Mukku and invited to save the island from a gang of pirates. Yes, really.
There’s a solid amount of accessibility options here. Players can change subtitle colors, add speaker names and a background for subtitles, too. There’s three major colorblind settings for those that need them. Additionally, in-battle action prompts can be disabled should players prefer to not worry about the timing on certain abilities.
Dondoko Island tasks Kasuga with cleaning up trash, catching bugs and fish, and crafting furniture and buildings to increase the island’s tourist rating. Eventually, you can even invite guests to the island to stay and spend money; many of which are familiar faces from throughout the series. Is it the most exciting content ever? No, but it’s not supposed to be. I found Dondoko Island to be a nice, laidback experience that was perfect for breaks in between the often dramatic narrative.
One last bit of side content I really loved was Aloha Links. And it’s really super simple; Kasuga can greet certain NPCs with a dedicated ‘Aloha!’ greeting button, and they’ll register to the Aloha Links app as a friend. It’s a small but very wholesome addition that comes with its own rewards, and of course invites exploration to discover all the applicable NPCs.
Overall, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth made me extremely confident in the series’ future. It presents a wholehearted, earnest story about caring for those closest to you and the importance of not leaving any regrets behind. Paired with some of the best turn-based combat I’ve played in years and a dizzying amount of quality side content, I can confidently say Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is an early game of the year contender.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is an early game of the year contender. Want to learn about our pick for last year? Consider checking out our list of the best games of 2023.
Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.