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Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth review: must-play RPG is an endless vacation

Ichiban fights a guy with a machete in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth.
Like a Dragin: Infinite Wealth
MSRP $70.00
“Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth offers an embarrassment of riches for fans of gaming's best soap opera.”
  • Fantastic story
  • Tight, meaningful combat
  • Detailed Hawaiian setting
  • Full of deep side content
  • Dondoko Island is a delight
  • Story pacing issues
  • Some exhausting repetition

I’m taking a leisurely stroll through Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth’s digital Honolulu City when I catch a bizarre sight. An old man runs up to a food stand, orders a shaved ice with no flavoring, and proceeds to toss it into the air. He bolts off in a panic, and I continue with my walk, chuckling at the scene. Hours later, I’m on the verge of tears. It turns out that man is desperate to show his ailing wife snowfall one more time before she passes away, a desperate attempt to make up for the lost time he spent working instead of cherishing the time he had with her.

Like the best Like a Dragon substories, the self-contained tale sums up the massive RPG’s sprawling story in a fraction of its runtime. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, a sequel to 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon, is a complex epic about two heroes struggling to figure out what to do with the limited time they have left on Earth. One’s simply facing a midlife crisis after a life-altering layoff; the other is staring death directly in the face thanks to a sudden cancer diagnosis. Those two journeys come together to tell a life-affirming story about how it’s never too late for your life to begin — and it does that between battles with a rogue Roomba with a taste for human blood.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is the most emotionally impactful chapter in gaming’s best soap opera. It struggles to stay fully engaging from start to finish due to a supersized runtime filled with exhausting exposition dumps, but developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio delivers a deeply personal story that’s serious without sacrificing its heart. If any video game could leave you with a new lease on life, it’s this.

A tale of two himbos

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth picks up a few years after Yakuza: Like a Dragon, where Ichiban Kasuga successfully disbanded multiple Yakuza families in an event now known as The Great Dissolution. Life has been great for the optimistic hero since then. He’s got a new job helping reformed criminals rejoin the workforce, and he’s working up the courage to ask his pal Saeko on a date. All of that, unfortunately, comes crashing down thanks to a series of mishaps. Thus begins an enthralling narrative that intersects with the remaining Yakuza families, a religious organization, and an animated VTuber with a knack for digging up dirt.

Whereas Yakuza: Like a Dragon was a “rags to riches” story, Infinite Wealth chronicles a more relatable climb up from rock bottom. Put all of the overwhelming deep dives into the criminal underworld aside, and you’re left with a deeply moving story about Kasuga trying to find a new purpose in life after tying so much of his identity to a fickle job that didn’t love him back. That journey takes him all the way to Hawaii as he searches for a mother he never met (who just so happens to be a new target for the Yakuza), the first step in rebuilding his life.

Kiryu and Kasuga grasp hands in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth.

That touching journey works as well as it does, thanks to Infinite Wealth’s dual protagonist setup. Yakuza hero Kiryu Kazuma joins Kasuga’s party this time, though he’s still operating in the shadows after faking his death in Like a Dragon: The Man Who Erased His Name. Kiryu turns out to be the perfect foil for Kasuga, and not just because he’s a pessimistic loner. The Dragon of Dojima reveals that he’s suffering from cancer and only has six months to live, time he intends to spend working himself to death. It’s through those two approaches to life and the ways we often have to fight to survive that Infinite Wealth delivers a poignant story of hope. It’s like the anti-Last of Us Part 2.

While that setup does produce plenty of self-reflective moments that are sure to stick with me long-term, it does sell Kiryu’s story just a little short. The iconic hero plays second fiddle to Kasuga throughout, only getting three of the game’s 14 chapters fully dedicated to his story. Ryu Ga Gotoku spends much of that runtime waxing nostalgic by tying off plot threads from Kiryu’s previous adventures. Though a touching tribute to Kiryu, there are times when it feels like a bit of self-indulgence for the studio as it reminisces on its history with the series and passes the torch to its new hero. Less time is spent in the present with Kiryu, which takes some power out of his loaded story.

Kasuga and Kiryu’s interweaving journeys make for a true video game epic …

Even then, one could argue that the structural decision underlines the looming tragedy even more. Kiryu himself refuses to live for the moment. He’s self-medicating by wrapping himself up in another criminal underworld conspiracy that dredges up a history he’s perhaps too scared to leave behind. Though his few chapters leave me wanting, it’s enough to deliver Kiryu’s most powerful gut punch yet as he struggles to find the one bucket list item that matters to him. He’s not so different from that man throwing shaved ice into the air, desperate to create one perfect moment before it passes him by.

Taken as a whole, Kasuga and Kiryu’s interweaving journeys make for a true video game epic that’ll make you want to put down your controller and call your mom.

The power of friendship

To reinforce those themes further, Ryu Ga Gotoku doubles down on its RPG systems introduced in Yakuza: Like a Dragon. That game traded in real-time brawling for turn-based battles to underline Kasuga’s obsession with RPGs that let players grow over time. While that meta layer is less pronounced here, the system is tweaked just a bit to speak to a different theme: the power of friendship.

Everything that worked in Yakuza: Like a Dragon continues to stand out in Infinite Wealth.

Interplay between party members is a bigger part of battles this time. By leveling up social bonds through collectible conversations and bar room chats, party members gain passive perks that work alongside traditional attacks and spells. They’ll auto-attack downed enemies more often and be able to pull off combo attacks with proper positioning (another system Infinite Wealth smartly tweaks by letting characters move within a circular radius during turns). It’s all another clever reflection of Kasuga’s character. He’s a bright-eyed hero who holds his loved ones close and believes in the power of teamwork. Battles better emphasize that in the reworked system.

That does present a small missed opportunity when it comes to Kiryu’s chapters. One would think that his isolated attitude would be a perfect opportunity to leave his half of the story in Yakuza’s old, solo brawling combat style. While that’s not the case, Ryu Ga Gotoku ingeniously calls back to that in Kiryu’s ultimate ability, in which he breaks out of turn-based combat and starts punching in real-time for a moment. That move replaces Kasuga’s contrasting ability, where his entire party teams up for a high-damage attack that melts big boss bars. It’s a small change, but one that effectively sums up the difference between both heroes.

Two Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth heroes perform a tag team attack.

Everything that worked in Yakuza: Like a Dragon continues to stand out in Infinite Wealth. Gear customization goes deep, Poundmates make for consistently hysterical summons, and magic animations are always a wild ride (my personal favorite spell has to be Essence of Human Grating, a chef-themed attack that’s exactly what it sounds like). The previous game’s signature job system returns with a bit of Hawaiian flair, too, bringing more playful absurdity to brawl. Who doesn’t want to see surfer Kiryu bashing enemies with a rocket-powered surfboard?

While there are plenty of left-field additions like that that see the sequel embrace the concept of “jumping the shark,” Ryu Ga Gotoku heavily relies on callbacks this time around. The eye-popping gags that made Yakuza: Like a Dragon such a delight largely get recycled and doubled here. Evil Roombas? Animal-controlled tractors? Helpful crustaceans? A lot of memorable gags get an encore, leaving less room for Infinite Wealth to surprise in the same way its predecessor did. You can’t blame Ryu Ga Gotoku too much for going back to the well when the water is this good, though.

Endless vacation

Though Infinite Wealth does play the hits, it makes one impactful change that makes Kasuga and Kiryu’s adventure feel special. The majority of the tale takes place in Honolulu City, Ryu Ga Gotoku’s biggest open-world location to date. The Hawaiian locale is a welcome vacation from the streets of Japan, filled with sprawling beaches and real local businesses that make it feel like a loving ode to the real city. The core exploration hasn’t changed, but the change in scenery is a breath of fresh air that has me hoping the series keeps globe-trotting from here.

Switching to an American setting gives the studio more space to play with social satire, too. Some of its best substories read as fierce capitalist commentaries as the city’s inhabitants grift one another or work themselves to the bone to get by. One touching side-quest has Kasuga helping a little boy run a simple lemonade stand so he can afford to buy his mentor a gift before she leaves town. That unassuming tale turns into a business horror story, complete with a greedy “boss” pocketing the profits.

Infinite Wealth is Ryu Ga Gotoku’s biggest game yet, and that’s both its best and worst quality.

Where Infinite Wealth really goes for broke, though, is in its minigames. The Like a Dragon series has always been known for its over-the-top side content that seems to get bigger with each installment. Memorable additions include a hysterical Pokémon Snap parody about photographing perverts and a chaotic dating app game that’s one of the series’ most laugh-out-loud creations yet. Not every piece of side content is a winner; the Pokémon-inspired Sujimon is a fun concept that’s a bit of a repetitive grind to actually play. Even so, there’s so much to do here that players can entirely ignore an entire side game and still spend 100 hours exploring the eccentric world (I hit credit at 60 hours after taking in a heavy helping of side content, but I still had much more to do after).

Infinite Wealth’s most important new addition is also its biggest. Halfway through the story, Kasuga detours to Dondoko Island, where players are introduced to an Animal Crossing minigame. Actually, that word undersells the mode; it’s a macrogame. Dondoko Island is a full-on management simulator that has players turning a trash-filled island into a thriving city. It’s fairly repetitive at first, with its emphasis on constantly collecting resources to craft items (and it’s an absolute momentum killer when it interrupts the story), but it grows to a shockingly in-depth degree once visitors start moving in.

Kasuga destroys trash in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth.

It’s Ryu Ga Gotoku at its most creatively energized, and it leaves me wondering what the studio could accomplish if it took a break from the constant churn of the long-running series. At the rate at which Like a Dragon is growing, the studio’s future feels unsustainable. Infinite Wealth is its biggest game yet, and that’s both its best and worst quality. Everything is supersized like an American Meal Deal, right down to exhausting exposition that often grinds the exciting story to a halt. The dual protagonist setup only exacerbates that problem by having players repeat the RPG’s most tedious tasks, like long social link conversations, when swapping parties at the halfway mark. There’s a functional irony to the fact that players will have to spend so much time grinding through a game about a hero who’s determined to work himself to death.

Put the sprawling criminal underworld saga aside, and you’ll find a much more focused story at the heart of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. It’s a poignant tale of two middle-aged men fighting to reclaim their identities from a world that marries our self-worth to our jobs. Perhaps it’s easier to drown ourselves in work than to nail down how we actually want to spend our short lives and with whom. Don’t think of it as a somber send-off for Kazuma Kiryu; think of it as an opportunity for one of gaming’s best stories to find itself.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth was tested on a PS5 hooked up to a TCL 6-Series R635.

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Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
All Master System game locations in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name
The castle in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.

The Like a Dragon series absolutely loves including old Sega titles within the series. In past games, these typically were kept at the various Sega arcades around the different maps, but for Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, times have changed and Kiryu can now play some classic games from the past in the comfort of his own hideout. The downside to this, though, is that you have to track down all the individual games if you want to play them. There are a total of 12 different retro games from the old Master System. While you only need to play five to earn the Retro Gamer trophy/achievement, you do need to find and try out all 12 to complete the log in the Akame Network fully. No need to write down passcodes or call a hotline for tips, here's where you can grab all the Master System games in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.
All Master System game locations

You can't access the Master System in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name until you get to Chapter 3. At this point, you will have access to your hideout and can enter the room on the west side with the controller icon to find a storage room with a little CRT and Master System. Make sure you actually play each game at least once after collecting them to fill out the log and get your trophy/achievement.
Alex Kidd Miracle World
Take a stroll down Castle Central Street and stand outside the Gambling Hall. On top of one of the pink umbrellas is a grab prompt to snag this cart.
Over in Sotenbori, go along the W Sotenbori Footpath on the north side of the river. Once again, keep an eye out on top of the umbrellas opposite the water for a grab prompt.
Galaxy Force
For a simple, and actually logical, way to get your hands on a Master System game, go to Ebisu Pawn on E Shofukucho Street. Galaxy Force will be on sale for just 5,500 yen.
Time to get your gambling skills up to par at the Castle casino. Play whatever game you like until you save up 2,500 chips to buy Quartet from the exchange desk.
Enduro Racer
The next set of games is tied to finding specific locker keys, a staple collectible in the Like a Dragon series. For Enduro Racer, you need to get locker key I4, which is on the southeast corner of the Sotenbori River. From the Bishamon Bridge, look to the right for a tree on the upper part of the path along the bank. There will be a grab prompt here to snag this key. Use it on its associated locker to get the game.
Fantasy Zone II
Next, we need to hunt down locker key F4. This one is down south of W Shufukucho Street in the narrow gap between the Gambling Hall and the building next to it. You can fit in but will get the grab prompt as usual.
Alien Syndrome
The final game kept in a locker is Alien Syndrom, which needs the F1 key. This key can't be picked up until at least Chapter 3 when you gain access to the Daidoji Hideout. Once you do, go into the entrance and the key will be lying in the hallway.
Global Defense
The final key is another easy one. In the Castle, go into the Gambling Hall and rack up 2,500 or more points however you like. Take them to the exchange desk and you can get yourself the last Master System game.

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All Gold Ball locations in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name
Kiryu listens to a message in his earpiece in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.

Every time Kiryu thinks he's out, the Yakuza life pulls him back in. This once again rings true in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, where we follow Kiryu after his last adventure, but before Ichiban takes up the mantle in Like a Dragon and the upcoming Infinite Wealth. Unlike the majority of the games in the series, you won't be running around the iconic Kamurocho, but mostly Sotenbori, Isezaki Ijincho, and the Castle. What remains the same is the numerous side stories and optional tasks that, for whatever reason, always seem to present themselves to the stoic and brooding Kiryu. One of those this time around is the "Gotta Catch Some Balls!" request given via the new Akame Network where you need to locate seven golden balls hidden around the maps. These are well-hidden little treasures in very dense locations, so here's the location of all seven in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.
All gold ball locations

The first six of seven balls can be obtained as soon as you have access to the location they're in. The seventh and final one is tied to a Stroll n' Patrol request that only appears later in the game as a reward.
Sotenbori gold ball locations
No. 1: At the southwest end of W. Shofukucho Street, enter the Kiss Shot Billiards & Bar. This ball is one of the prizes you can get by exchanging 777 points, so play a few rounds to save up.

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Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth will kick off a crowded 2024 for RPG lovers
Ichiban fights a guy with a machete in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth.

Sega released two lengthy new trailers for Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth as part of its latest RGG Summit. We not only got more plot and story details about the upcoming Like a Dragon title but a release date as well: January 26, 2024.

Previously, the game only had a vague "early 2024" release date that developers use for games coming out anytime from January to May, so this release date is a bit sooner than expected for the game. It also means that Infinite Wealth launches on the same day as Tekken 8 and arrives ahead of some other highly anticipated RPGs next year, like Granblue Fantasy: Relink, Persona 3 Reload, and Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.
A ten-minute story trailer for Infinite Wealth confirmed lots of new story details, which you might want to avoid if you don't want spoilers. If you don't mind, the trailer reveals that Ichiban is in Honolulu City to find his mother after losing his job and hitting a rough patch in his relationship with Saeko. Meanwhile, Kiryu has been diagnosed with cancer, and it's revealed to the public that he's just in hiding, not dead. From there, the trailer continues to tease yet another wild story centered around taking on organized crime that features characters from across the entire series.
As for the gameplay trailer, it confirms that most of the game takes place in Hawaii, which has been recreated with a dynamic weather system. It also confirms that Infinite Wealth is a turn-based RPG like its predecessor, although Kiryu can "awaken his fighting spirit" to temporarily fight enemies in real time. The job system and Poundmates also return and players can obtain them by doing various jobs around Hawaii. There are also tons of weird minigames for things like being a bike courier, Sujimon battles, and online dating.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth launches for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S on January 26, 2024. If you want to play some of the game a bit early, a demo for it will be included with this November's Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.  

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