About two years ago, a video game completely captured my attention. It was Yakuza: Like a Dragon, the latest installment from Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. Up until that point, I knew nothing about the Yakuza series, other than it involved yakuza members and there was a guy with an eyepatch. But after seeing many friends and acquaintances playing it and hearing them rave about it being a great JRPG, I decided it was time to buy it.
The big summary of it all is that Yakuza: Like a Dragon completely captivated me. After finishing it (and putting in many hours), I bought all the remaining games in the series in one night, from 0 to 6 (all of them beat’em’up games, of course).
Having experienced the Yakuza series in all its glory, this week finally marks the release of Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, a new installment that bridges the events between Yakuza: Like a Dragon and Yakuza 6: The Song of Life.
However, the release of a title in a series with so many entries can raise many questions for players who have never tried a Yakuza game before. Can I play Like a Dragon Gaiden if I haven’t played the previous ones? Is it advisable to be familiar with the events of the series before delving into this new installment?
In short, yes, it is highly recommended to have played all the previous games before starting Like a Dragon Gaiden. In this title, players will control Kazuma Kiryu, the protagonist of all the previous Yakuza games (except Yakuza: Like a Dragon), and his backstory is of particular importance to understand the plot of this game.
While Yakuza: Like a Dragon can be played without any issues without having played the previous games, as it serves as another starting point in the series, there are details that may not be fully understood without knowledge of past events. The good thing is that the game’s own plot, centered around a new protagonist, reduced the importance of this, even becoming an incentive for newcomers to delve into the series (like my case).
But Like a Dragon Gaiden is different. This new installment focuses exclusively on Kiryu, the central figure of the Yakuza saga, and takes into account his entire history to shape a plot tailored exclusively for fans of the franchise. Yes, it also serves as a bridge to Yakuza: Like a Dragon and the upcoming Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, but if you don’t know anything about Kiryu or his story, it’s better to wait and play all the other Yakuza games before starting Like a Dragon Gaiden.
Of course, this is a recommendation, and many people who have never played the series will likely still enjoy Like a Dragon Gaiden, its combat mechanics, and its numerous minigames. Consider yourselves warned, though.