The entire Like a Dragon (formerly Yakuza) series is available as part of the Xbox Game Pass catalog, so you might be scratching your head wondering where to start. With Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth launching in a couple of weeks and shaping up to be “the series’ ultimate climax,” the pressure is on to get into the series soon. Although every Like a Dragon game is worth a playthrough at some point for those who love crime dramas and video games with wild narratives, if you can only play one this month before Infinite Wealth launches, make it Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.
This isn’t the best game in the series; I gave it a three-star review when it launched in November. Despite that, I recognize that multiple factors make Like a Dragon Gaiden the perfect game in the series to get into before you play Infinite Wealth. And as a day-one Xbox Game Pass release, this two-month-old title cements itself as a must-play this month.
As Infinite Wealth is a direct sequel to Yakuza: Like a Dragon, that might seem like the better game to play beforehand. While I certainly recommend you do that at some point, Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a 50+ hour RPG that deserves to be savored at a slower pace. That means it’ll prove arduous to get through in a couple of weeks between now and Infinite Wealth’s launch. Thankfully, Like a Dragon Gaiden is an ample crash course in almost every narrative element players should be familiar with before Infinite Wealth and can be completed in under 15 hours.
That short length makes it a perfect Yakuza game to beat before Infinite Wealth launches, even if you can only squeeze in for an hour or two a day to play. It helps that Like a Dragon Gaiden is an interquel to Yakuza: Like a Dragon and directly leads into Infinite Wealth. The game follows former Yakuza and now generally good guy Kazuma Kiryu, who is in hiding after the events of Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (and the entire franchise, of which he was the main character).
Kiryu abandoned that identity, now works as a secret agent, and lives under the name Joryu, hence the subtitle The Man Who Erased His Name. Unfortunately, nothing can ever go that smoothly in a crime drama like this, so Kiryu is pulled back into a Yakuza conflict as the leaders of the major clans plan to disband the crime ring entirely. Essentially, Like a Dragon Gaiden explains what Kiryu was doing during the events of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which starred a new main protagonist named Ichiban Kazuga. It’s an engrossing narrative with an utterly satisfying climax, and it features one of the biggest tear-jerker endings I’ve ever seen in a video game.
Playing through Like a Dragon Gaiden, you’ll meet many of the characters and learn much of the lore you’ll need to know before you head into Infinite Wealth. Some of the substories in the game will also familiarize you with this series’ quirky sense of humor, which you’ll need to accept as this franchise loves to juxtapose that with serious crime drama elements. Those who’ve already beaten the game have a reason to return and experience this story again: Sega added English voice-acting in a December update.
In terms of gameplay, this is an action game rather than an RPG, but even that can be seen as a strength beforehand as it’ll familiarize you with the series’ gameplay roots from before it went full-on RPG. And if you want to get familiar with that gameplay style, Like a Dragon Gaiden even contains a trial version of Infinite Wealth that’s accessible after beating the main story. That’s right, if you have Xbox Game Pass, you can play a bit of one of 2024’s biggest games early.
Although I think there are better games in the Like a Dragon series, there’s no denying that Like a Dragon Gaiden is an excellent primer for Infinite Wealth. Doing so is like listening to a band’s greatest hits on vinyl before going to see them perform songs from a new album in concert.
The Like a Dragon series can be a bit daunting to get into, and I ultimately recommend picking the game that looks the most interesting to you and playing that. Still, if you only have time to play one shorter game in this series ahead of Infinite Wealth’s launch on January 26, your time is best spent playing through Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name on Xbox Game Pass.
- Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth fails its villains
- Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth will make you cry tears of laughter and sorrow
- Don’t miss Like a Dragon Gaiden’s hilarious ChatGPT side-story
- Like a Dragon Gaiden will come with an Infinite Wealth demo
- Sega explains why it’s officially ditching the Yakuza name for Like a Dragon