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Like a Dragon: Ishin release date, trailers, gameplay, and more

The series formerly known as Yakuza, now unified with the Japanese name of Like a Dragon, has had an interesting relationship in terms of its western releases. The first game was heavily marketed and featured a cast of high-profile voice actors, including Mark Hamill. After that game’s poor performance, the following games ditched the English cast and simultaneous release. While we would still get those mainline games eventually, two spinoff titles never made it out of Japan.

Like a Dragon: Ishin is a full remake of one such title. Originally released on both the PlayStation 3 and PS4 in 2014, this title features the main cast of the series, only set in the Bakumatsu period, which ran from 1853 to 1867 in Japan, and fulfilling roles of real historical figures. With the newfound popularity the series has been enjoying, this lesser-known entry is getting a chance in the spotlight, though it is quite different from all the other entries. Here’s everything we know about Like a Dragon: Ishin.

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Release date

Kiru walks down a line of samurai.

Like a Dragon: Ishin was announced with several other Like a Dragon projects and was not given a solid release date at the time. Since then, the developers did reveal that they expect the game to come out on February 21, 2023.


Like a Dragon: Ishin Ryoma Sakamoto

While it was originally revealed during a Sony conference, we do know that Like a Dragon: Ishin will come to multiple platforms, including PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.


Like a Dragon: Ishin! - State of Play Sep 2022 Announcement Trailer | PS5 & PS4 Games

The only trailer Like a Dragon: Ishin has had thus far is the announcement trailer from Sony’s State of Play in September 2022.

In it, we open on text showing the setting of Kyo (a fictional city) in 1867 and that “a lone samurai embarks on a secret quest for revenge and sparks the greatest revolution in Japanese history.” We see this samurai confronting another man beside a corpse. The man addresses the samurai as Sakamoto Ryoma, a real historical samurai, though here played by Kazuma Kiryu.

The trailer cuts to many different historical streets and buildings to set the scene and show off new characters clashing katanas. Plenty of action is on display, with nothing of the plot shared.

However, being a remake, we can look to the original to see what is in store. If you want to avoid spoilers, skip the rest of this section.

Assuming the remake follows the same story, Ryoma will be on death row after an altercation with another samurai. Yoshida Toyo, his father figure, frees him and sets him on a quest to disrupt the social class system gripping the region.

From there, betrayals, death, conspiracy, and all the drama of the series play out, as is typical for the series.


Two samurai crossing blades.

Unlike the last Like a Dragon game released, which completely overturned the series’ established gameplay and functioned as a turn-based JRPG, Like a Dragon: Ishin will be an action game just like the original and core Yakuza series. Combat is a sort of 3D brawler where you face off against enemies in the environment, primarily using your sword and gun.

If you’re familiar with those older games, the system will be very familiar. You will have four different styles to change between, this time including Swordsman, Gunman, Wild Dancer, and Brawler. Each one will have different strengths and weaknesses, as well as new moves and abilities to unlock related to them as you level up. The main difference in Like a Dragon: Ishin to the other games is the focus on sword and gun combat.

Heat moves will also be back and are context-sensitive moves that you can unleash for massive damage and often a good laugh as well. If you build up your Heat gauge by landing hits and avoid taking damage, you can perform one of dozens of heat moves on one or more enemies, depending on where and how you trigger it.

Outside of combat, expect the usual fair of small but compact open-world fun. There will be dozens of substories to experience, mini-games to play, and other ways to engross yourself in the world. Assuming Like a Dragon: Ishin will include the same optional content as the original, expect to spend some time singing karaoke, going fishing, dancing, making Udon, and more.


Like a Dragon: Ishin cover.

Yes, with the release date coming early in 2023, pre-orders are up for all platforms via the official Like a Dragon: Ishin website. Here, you can select your platform and choose either the regular or deluxe edition for $60 and $70, respectively. Pre-order any version to get the following bonus items:

• Kijinmaru Kunishige, a dark sword with a white hilt

• Tsuyano Usukurenai, a sword soaked in blood

• Black Ship Cannon, a cannon taken from Western ships

If you opt for the deluxe edition, you will also get the following cosmetics and resources:

• Shinsengumi Captain’s Set

• Ryoma Growth Support Kit

• Sword Upgrade Materials Kit

• Gun Upgrade Materials Kit

• Third Division Armament Expansion Kit

• The Dragon of Dojima Skin

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