'Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth' Review: Turn-Based Beachside Mayhem

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Sega's Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has been cooking up plenty of heat in the Yakuza/Like a Dragon franchise since 2015's Yakuza 5. It's been a joy following the continued crime mystery-filled escapades of former series frontman Kazuma Kiryu and its newest mascot Ichiban Kasuga. RGG Studio has now moved its long-running IP into a turn-based RPG playstyle (for fans of the series' beat 'em up approach to combat, the two Judgment games, Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, Like a Dragon: Ishin!, and Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name provide that in abundance) that has excelled with the debut of 2020's Yakuza: Like a Dragon. I'm happy to say that RGG Studio has built on that game's winning formula to a highly commendable degree while producing the same off-the-wall hijinks and serious story beats of series past in an amazing sequel. Here is my Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth review.

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'Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth' Review

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Once again, you step into the heroic dress shoes of Ichiban and start out working in a legal profession that's meant to assist former Yakuza members and disgraced criminals. Like every Yakuza/Like a Dragon game before it, Infinite Wealth throws a monkey wrench into the main character's idyllic lifestyle and pushes them right back into a wild web of conspiracy that includes the negative influence of sinister forces in high positions of power. The major twist that initially gets Ichiban back out onto the streets of Japan grabbed me and compelled me to see how his latest crime caper would play out. What lifts the plot of Infinite Wealth above its predecessor for me is two factors - the focus on Ichiban being sent far away from his homeland to find his mother and the inclusion of a cancer-stricken Kazuma living out his final days. The way this game leads you closer to the reasons behind Ichiban's mother's disappearance and everything surrounding Kazuma's past coming back to either placate him or haunt him is incredibly absorbing.

Yakuza/Like a Dragon always does a phenomenal job of introducing a new cast of characters that make for favorable party members and memorable villains. Infinite Wealth offers this in spades on both sides of the coin - fresh protagonists such as Eric Tomizawa and Chitose Fujinomiya go from no-good crooks to trustworthy allies, while bad guys like the "Overseer" and the psychotic leader of a Hawaii Yakuza gang get over thanks to their alarming personality traits. The storyline for Infinite Wealth easily made me pour 60+ hours into it, which points to just how captivating it is from start to finish. When you add on the 52 substories (which produce the game's most unconventional and hysterical setups), party member bonding, and "Bucket List" sequences specifically created for Kazuma, this game offers a wealth of valuable content to enjoy.

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Infinite Wealth may start in familiar territory, but it freshens up your local surroundings by transporting Ichiban to the sunnyside locale of Hawaii. As someone who spent his 2023 vacation in that heavenly destination spot, I was overjoyed at the inclusion of that hub world as one of the main places you peruse during your lengthy journey. The game's digital recreation of Hawaii is legit - ABC Stores litter every street corner, palm trees are everywhere you look, and a massive beachside area welcomes you & your crew to take a quick dive to recover some trash that can be turned in for valuable rewards. The fact that this game has a dedicated "Aloha" greeting button points to just how much Infinite Wealth adheres to the best parts of Hawaiian culture.

Yakuza/Like a Dragon lives and dies by the quality of its minigames - thankfully, Infinite Wealth offers a sizable collection of worthwhile experiences in that regard. While the omission of the previous game's "Dragon Kart" racing minigame is quite the letdown, this sequel offsets that disappointment by bringing back fan-favorite selections and adding in fresh ones. Out of all the new minigames, the Crazy Taxi-esque "Crazy Delivery" is my favorite - biking hilariously fast, flipping & dipping in the air, picking up trails of fast food, and drifting right into your next delivery customer never gets old. The Tinder-inspired "Miss Match," the Pokémon parody known as "Sujimon Battle," and the comparable Animal Crossing simulator "Dondoko Island" all offer a bunch of merrymaking experiences. You could easily step off the main campaign path and build your dream resort for the majority of your time spent with Infinite Wealth if you'd prefer & that'd be fine. I damn sure spent a whole lot of my in-game time playing Virtua Fighter 3 and SpikeOut (Sega Bass Fishing put me to sleep though, not even going to lie).

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On the turn-based combat front, Infinite Wealth builds upon the mechanics of its predecessor in severely impressive ways. You now can freely move any of your party members around, which helps them activate abilities that affect multiple foes at once, places them next to weapons that boost their attack power, and gives Kazuma several opportunities to land his signature "Heat Actions." That simple movement change makes a world of difference by adding in an extra layer of strategy now that you must consider where you plan to pull off your next move on the battlefield. The jobs (character classes) mechanic remains just as good as it was in Yakuza: Like a Dragon thanks to the presence of previous selections and brand-new options. I got a whole hell of a lot of enjoyment out of mixing and matching classes to turn my favorite characters into a Samurai, Bruce Lee-esque "Action Star," surfer-friendly "Aquanaut," a sneaky "Kunoichi," and more. I also love the fact that Kazuma's beat 'em up repertoire can be activated mid-battle and let you bash the opposition with active button presses just for old-time's sake.

Up until this point, you've already realized that my Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is nothing but glowing. However, there are a few issues that arose from time to time during my playthrough that can't be ignored. Odd actions from the NPCs are a constant issue - I regularly saw random folks get stuck in a walking animation near a random object and blurt out the same lines of dialogue at the same time (which led to strange audio glitches). During combat, there are odd moments where characters get stuck in pieces of the environment and then take a few annoying seconds to free themselves just to perform their next action. While those glitches are minor and didn't damage my overall enjoyment of the game, they simply can't be ignored, and point to Infinite Wealth needing an update of two to make those issues non-existent in the future.

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