Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name

I have an on-again/off-again relationship with the Yakuza series, although it’s been more off than on in recent years. I loved the first game and played it exhaustively. I didn’t then play another Yakuza game until Yakuza Kiwami came out, and then I didn’t go back to the well until Yakuza 6, and I only briefly perused Yakuza 0. I’m the type of so-and-so who much prefers to simply exist in the world of Kamurocho, taking in the sights and gawking at the local denizens more so than actually engaging in the beat-’em-up combat system.

Don’t get me wrong, the fighting is usually snappy and fun — both to pull off and also to watch — but it can get kind of tedious when you’re attempting to run down the street to grab some snacks from the corner store only to have to fight a seemingly unending supply of goons in tailored suits. Will they never learn?

I also ended up steering clear of Like a Dragon, even though it changed up the combat to a real-time RPG model (it is in my PS5 catalog, however, just in case). I also have yet to dive into Judgment or Lost Judgment, but considering that is a spin-off series, I won’t lump those games in here.

But once I saw the announcement trailer for Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, I started thinking that my “off-again” is swinging back in the direction of “on-again.” It’s admittedly nice to see Kazuma Kiryu back in the driver’s seat of a Yakuza title; the prospect of kicking ass as the Dragon of Dojima — or at least the current iteration of the man formerly know as Kiryu (he now goes by Joryu, or “Codename Joryu” apparently) — is quite tantilizing. That said, I am more bowled over by the trailer itself than the content of the game.

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name

This is literally one of the best trailers I’ve seen in quite some time. It feels like a short film. The blocking, the use of natural sound effects, the voice acting, and even the character models — all of this is top-notch. In fact, if this was a trailer for (or rather a scene from) an upcoming CG Yakuza movie, that might actually be even more awesome than whatever this game will be. (I am assuming this will be exactly like every other mainline Yakuza game, albeit perhaps one in a different location and with a different cast of colorful characters.)

But if we are speculating on gameplay, I’ll use this moment to say that I would love to see a slight departure from the Yakuza fighting system of old, instead replaced by a more deliberate and weighty, almost grounded approach to combat. I’m not talking a fighting simulator, mind you, but just as God of War (2018) was able to better ground the action of God of War without losing it’s flair and appeal, I feel like a similar update would work wonders for Kiryu.

But regardless of what the game will play like, I think my initial sentiment holds true: The announcement trailer for Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is a pretty amazing piece of cinema that stands on its own.

You can, of course, check out the trailer for yourself if you haven’t already seen it. I’ve posted it below so you can really take it all in. It’s just that good.

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