Ishin Brings Action Back to Yakuza & Is a Dream Come True for the Fans [Hands-on Preview]

Many fans of the Yakuza series (now renamed “Like a Dragon,” a literal translation of the original “Ryu Ga Gotoku” title) have lost hope of seeing its old Japanese spinoff, Ishin, localized in the West.

However, Sega surprised us not only with localization, but also with a brand new platform and the “Kiwami” treatment we saw in the first Yakuza game. In fact, this upcoming Japanese title does contain the word “Kiwami,” even though this has disappeared from Western titles, which makes sense since we never got the original.

The story takes place at the end of the shogunate period in Japanese history (just past the mid-19th century), when samurai rule was fading and Japan began to timidly and often reluctantly embrace Western-driven “modernity.”

This is a period that many in the West find rather obscure, as it has been overshadowed in the popular media by the Warring States period. As such, it’s also neglected in games, unless you like otome games, the genre is full of Shinsengumi’s pretty boy fringes.

Like a dragon: Yixin!Preview - boy
Image credit: Sega

If that’s not what you’re thinking, and you want to familiarize yourself with the historical background (and you have a PC), I’d wholeheartedly recommend another game from Sega: Ex-Total War: Shogun 2 Expansion to Single Player Total War Saga: Samurai ‘s fall.

Like a Dragon: Yixin throws you right in the middle of the bakuma operations, especially the headquarters of the Shinsengumi, the famous or notorious (depending on which angle you look at) special police unit set up to maintain order amid the turmoil The time leading to the end of the Tokugawa shogunate.

However, the Shinsengumi you meet in this game are far from pretty boys (despite all beauties in the eyes of beauties, and I happen to have a crush on Goro Majima like 90% of male yakuza fans can’t even deny it), And features portraits, voices, mannerisms, and middle-aged snakes of well-known characters from the Yakuza series.

There is no Kasuga here, our hero Kiryu Kazuma returns to play the role of historical figure Ryoma Sakamoto, although he infiltrates the team and lifts the mask as the famous Shinsengumi Saito Kazuma, things go straight into the realm of fantasy history his mentor the murderer. In actual history, they were very different people.

Like a dragon: Yixin!Preview - Ryoma Sakamoto
Image credit: Sega

Heroes aren’t the only element returning like dragons: Ising. Since the original game was from 2014, action games are back on the table since turn-based switching didn’t happen yet. You’ll find that the gameplay of the game is very similar to Yakuza 5 and Yakuza 0, which were the mainline chapters of the series it was released in, albeit with differences.

The main change is definitely that you won’t be picking up a bike to replenish your fists because you’re always carrying weapons with you, especially katana and pistols. This combination of weapons alone should make those unfamiliar with Japanese history realize that, really Not the Warring States period, Ryoma is not your classic samurai.

Just like in the original game, you have four fighting stances to switch between flying, focusing on fist, katana, gun and katana + gun, although I’m fairly sure (it’s been a long time) that these styles themselves have Improvements and adjustments have been made. A collectible card system that provides special moves that would otherwise be part of a separate dungeon combat mode has been integrated into the main combat mechanics, which makes sense since it’s mostly used through the PS Vita integration system, sadly (But understandably) is not the same thing anymore.

Like a dragon: Yixin!Preview - Combat
Image credit: Sega

It’s a comprehensive combat system that’s sure to appeal to those who missed the action mechanics of earlier games in the series.

Despite the differences in settings, this is definitely a Yakuza game, so beyond the main story, you can expect a ton of things to do, from exploring the city while making friends and completing sub-quests, to tons of fun mini-games The game, including some farming sim content, is sure to delight the Seasons Story fans among us.

The changes brought about by this new version of the game are not just mechanical. The visuals have definitely been updated too, which is good considering the original was a generational middle ground between PS3 and PS4 and wasn’t overly aging.The fresh coat of paint is definitely visible and makes the game very appealing, at least on the PS5 version I was able to test

Of course, as with all underworld games, a large part of the appeal comes from the storyline and atmosphere. While the latter is definitely different from Kamurocho and other locations we’ve visited in modern games (though some things are preserved, in more or less subtle ways), the storytelling is very similar and just as great.

Like a dragon: Yixin!Preview - Cities
Image credit: Sega

Don’t be fooled by the “serious” historical setting, as the humor throughout the series still gets better. Basically, if you’re used to the mainline games of the Like a Dragon franchise, you’ll feel right at home with Ishin. In fact, the change in settings makes it even more fascinating. You could say it feels like an underworld-themed isekai.

At the end of the day, the localization of Rulong: Yixin is a dream come true for many fans of the gangster series, but even those who have never tried the series will find plenty to like.

In fact, considering Yixin is a stand-alone story while the mainline series is ongoing, this is likely to be a good entry point for newbies.

Like a Dragon: Ishin will be released in February 2023 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC.

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