martes, abril 16, 2024

Like a Dragon Ishin’s Refusal to Change Is Its Best and Worst Feature

At its core, Like a Dragon: Ishin is an open-world samurai life simulator (at least within the context of its world). The game takes place in a city that isn’t exactly large, but it is lively. Nothing is stopping you from rushing through story segments to get to the end, but if you do that, you’re playing the game wrong. Like a Dragon: Ishin!’s city is a thrill to explore, as it is full of items to collect, minigames to play, and thugs to beat up. And as you progress through the game, you unlock even more areas, side activities, and minigames.

While I previously stated that the main plot is the beating heart of Like a Dragon: Ishin!’s, its side stories are often just as worthwhile. As is true of all Yakuza games, the game’s streets are packed with optional missions just waiting to be distracted. Some are heartfelt character studies, while others explore ideas such as Japan’s changing opinion of foreigners and castes. And of course, some side stories are just silly, one-and-done segments, because it’s not a Yakuza game without some slapstick.

Many of these stories are off the beaten path, and you won’t know they’re available unless you organically talk to NPCs (or eavesdrop on them) or randomly encounter a strange sight. The same goes for the game’s many minigames. The karaoke and fishing minigames are easily the best of the bunch, but unless you go looking for them, you might never realize they’re there, Plus, I dare you to not burst out laughing the first time Ryoma casually hooks a great white shark.

Like its storytelling, Like a Dragon: Ishin’s world isn’t completely spotless. This time, the culprit is the game’s breadth of content. It’s just so easy to get overwhelmed. Take combat as an example. Yes, fights are satisfying and flashy, and they also require on-the-fly tactical thinking since each of the game’s four combat styles has its own strengths and weaknesses. That’s a nice idea, but that depth comes back to bite players because of all the possible unlocks. Each style has its own skill tree, and it’s easy to forget which abilities you’ve acquired in the heat of battle. Did you unlock a finisher that slams enemies into walls in the Brawler or the Wild Dancer tree? Did you even unlock that finisher yet? You don’t need these skills to enjoy fights, but they add a tangible wow factor to the franchise’s combat. It’s another one of those ways some of the flaws end up feeling like an integral part of the experience.

The side activities are another double-edged sword. As previously stated, these are fun distractions that help break up the action and feature all the Yakuza camp we’ve come to expect. But, even these diversions fall into the same trap of overwhelming players, partially because many reward players with in-game currencies such as virtue. These sound like an optional bonus, but they are necessary for many upgrades. In order to unlock the best (or all) improvements, you need to get grinding. Mechanics such as Another Life farmwork and item forging are also subject to this flaw since they start small at first, but to get the most out of them, you need to invest a ton of time and resources into them. On the bright side, though, these systems provide rewards that overshadow what you put into them. Also, farming can have a nice zen to it once you learn to go with its flow.

Ever since Yakuza 0, the company behind the franchise, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio (RGG) used their own proprietary Dragon Engine, although last year, the studio boss admitted the engine has been showing its age. So to change things up, RGG used Unreal 4 to create
Like a Dragon: Ishin!

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