In its cutscenes, Like a Dragon: Ishin! plays out like a moody and violent samurai revenge film, setting its tone from the start with an explosive nighttime police raid seen entirely from first-person as combatants are cut down in sprays of blood and amidst a cacophony of shouting, gunshots, and ringing swords. In quieter moments, it is full of rooms of dangerous, ambitious men taking stock of the declining Tokugawa shogunate and the rising tide of chaos that is poised’ to engulf it at the end of the 19th century. They are all trying to calculate both what vision for a new world they want to bring about and how richly they can reward themselves in the process.
Rob describing the over-stimulating onslaught of diversions and texture that defines the post-Yakuza 0 era of RGG games like its a bad thing is genuinely valuable. These games are some of a handful in major releases that feel like they have a director’s vision behind them, and I have definitely given them a lot of rope for that reason.
It does feel like Yakuza 0 was a big level up for RGG kind of like how Uncharted 2 was a big level-up for Naughty Dog. I wonder if there’s some amount of pressure to add in more “stuff” to compete with other big games. Side content feels intrinsic to the feel of RGG’s stuff but is there a line between “this is an RGG game” and “this is suffering from AAA bloat?” I don’t know! But I have enjoyed RGG’s action-focused output and I’m looking forward to sorting through it.
Uncharted was Naughty Dog but I get your point, I haven’t played RGG:Ishin but stuffing the games full of stuff is kind of just what they do, I don’t think they changed their mind about that at any point.
Maybe trying to play two or three Yakuza-like games in such a short span of time is kind of wearing on Rob, although if the combat/camera issues are as bad as he says then that’s a different point of failure.
Yup. I’ve barely played the intro of Ishin so I can’t comment on the final experience - maybe on balance I’ll be like “Rob was right, this is a mess” - but I’m in the process of (re)playing every Yakuza game and I’m currently up to 5, the last one they released before Ishin. This is just the vibe the games have, tonal dissonance and constant interruptions included.
I’ve seen a lot of headline takes about how this one feels dated or isn’t much of a remake, but to me that’s appealing; the end of the series’ PS3 era was an absolute highlight for me. I too enjoyed Yakuza 0, the moment the series finally got the attention it long deserved, but I never made it far with either 6 or 7 (and thus my new attempt to replay the series and tackle the ones I didn’t get to).
Two points though: even in the brief time I’ve spent with it, the camera does seem to suck. Rob’s right about that, and I wonder if it’s from this game inexplicably using Unreal instead of RGG’s internal Dragon engine. Most of the interface and gameplay feels like you’d expect of the series, to the point the engine change is basically invisible so far, but the camera does not behave how I would want it to. Fingers crossed for some patches…?
And to his point about random battles - that’s what ultimately stopped me playing Yakuza 7, when I couldn’t seem to get three feet without being dragged into turn-based combat. The brawling games have occasionally spiked me with too many fights in a row but never as frequently as 7, and at least the brawls can fly by quicker. But again, I’ll reserve judgement - maybe the frequency here is a problem I haven’t hit yet.
I just played some of the demo and I can definitely speak to the different feel that this has relative to recent RGG games. The loosey-goosey physics-based feel of the Dragon Engine games is missing (Kiwami 2, Song of Life, Judgments, Like A Dragon) and I’m not sure if I like it. One of the grand joys of the fighting in Kiwami 2 and 6 was ragdoll kicking a guy through the plate-glass window of a storefront, then strolling in to order a beef bowl.
This does really feel like the old games with a modern glaze over the top.