Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Game Review: 'Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth'

Few RPG series manage to maintain the release frequency while upholding the quality level the way Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio does with the "Like a Dragon" franchise, which evolved from the "Yakuza" games. 

Just about every year, a new entry comes down the pike and dares gamers to invest hours into its intense combat, intriguing social sim aspects and bewildering slate of minigames that sink you into the high-flying culture of the Japanese mob.

With a turn-based combat system that seems to nod to the "Final Fantasy" games of yesteryear, you maneuver your party into opportunistic positions to enact the most damage with your strikes, special abilities and status-altering maneuvers. Battles become complex chain reactions that you orchestrate with strategic tweaks and adjustments, watching your decisions unfold in a satisfyingly brutal manner.

Oftentimes, battles rage on with the elegance of a John Woo film, with characters improvising attacks with objects that they weaponize to thrilling effect.

In between missions, you can blow off steam in minigames including a dating app, a Pokemon-like creature training game and a "Crazy Taxi"-style delivery escapade. The non sequiturs the franchise's side distractions offer have always made the series stand out, adding considerable charm and whimsy to the often grim procedings.

With a stirring story -- expect hours of cut scenes unless you are impatient and prefer skipping them -- and strong character development, "Infinite Wealth" continues the series' storied tradition, and will no doubt keep its fans salivating for the next entry. Nine games into the stalwart franchise, "Like a Dragon" shows no signs of folding up its wings.

Publisher provided review code.

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