Speaking during an interview with Game Informer, Hiroyuki Sakamoto, chief producer on the Yakuza franchise, has revealed that the team at RGG Studio didn’t have any concerns about implementing turn-based combat in Yakuza: Like A Dragon, despite it being a radical paradigm shift for the series.
RGG Studio’s games are narrative games. We always think flat about the most enjoyable form of that narrative, which combat factors into. For example, one reason why we decided to make Yakuza: Like a Dragon an RPG is because we always think flat. Aside from combat, we have also made many styles of minigames, so we are confident that we can make an enjoyable game, even if it is in a genre we have never made before.
While the mainline Like A Dragon games are now turn-based RPGs, the spin-offs such as Like A Dragon: The Man Who Erased His Name retain the classic arcade brawling of the earlier titles. However, Sakamoto-san notes that when the franchise first kicked off, there were more over-the-shoulder fighters than currently on the market.
It’s actually difficult to find a full-contact fighting action game, so we don’t really have any games that we looked [to] for inspiration or reference. We, on the other hand, try to draw inspiration from fighting competitions and action movies—a realistic fight battle where you can feel the pain. There are many action games where various expressions are muted, but we believe there is catharsis in realistic and painful fighting.
The next major instalment in the series, Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth, is scheduled for release on January 26, 2024 for PS5, PS4, PC, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One.