Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name PS5 Review. Developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio made a brave decision replacing Kazuma Kiryu as the main protagonist in 2020’s Yakuza: Like A Dragon. After all, with seven games under hits belt, the legendary Dragon of Dojima had firmly cemented himself as a fan favourite, and the notion of a Yakuza game without Kiryu’s snakeskin shoes and menacing glare was a tough pill to swallow. Moving away from that seemed like a gamble, but it paid off big time: Ichiban Kasuga was a hit with fans, and Like A Dragon’s paradigm shift to bonkers turn-based RPG was a winner.
Yet, here we are a few years later, and the affable ‘Kiryu-chan’ is back with his own spin-off and a major role in the forthcoming Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth. Make no mistake, this isn’t a display of RGG Studio’s lack of confidence in its new cast; rather, it’s simply that Kiryu has so much more to offer as a character, and his reappearance in the limelight is anything but a cheap nostalgic thrill for fans.
In fact, The Man Who Erased His Name is absolutely brimming with confidence; it’s a gripping, outlandishly fun and thoroughly rewarding romp that further solidifies RGG Studio’s penchant for delivering both bombastic , hard-hitting narrative and glorious irreverence in equal measures.
Like A Dragon: The Man Who Erased His Name PS5 Review
The Name’s Kiryu, Kazuma Kiryu
Set between the events of Yakuza 6: The Song of Life and Yakuza: Like A Dragon, The Man Who Erased His Name picks up after Kiryu fakes his death to protect his loved ones, and is now living a secret life as an agent known as Joryu for the enigmatic Daidoji faction. The short story? He’s basically a James Bond-style super spy now, complete with fancy gadgets. I mean, why not? Kiryu has tried his and at most things: pocket circuit champion, real estate tycoon, Yakuza boss, taxi driver, orphanage owner. Hell, the dude even beat the crap out of two tigers. Being a spy seems like a natural progression.
The fact is, though, Kiryu has his hands tied, figuratively speaking. He can’t leave this life; he has to stay ‘dead’ to the outside world, or risk putting the children back at Morning Glory Orphanage in danger. He’s hired muscle, doing odd jobs like escorting the wealthy, overseeing drug shipments and giving people that need it a good arse-kicking.
I won’t spoil anything, but suffice to say things go tits up quickly and Kiryu is put in a compromising situation that threatens to reveal his true identity, and puts him at odds with his superiors in the Daidoji faction. As with all RGG Studio efforts, The Man Who Erased His Name weaves an intricate web; its narrative is peppered with deceit, intrigue, new alliances, and genuine surprises that will keep you hooked to the end, even if it’s a lot shorter than what fans are used to.
A More Self-Contained Story That Puts Kiryu In The Spotlight
Make no mistake, this is all about Kiryu. Even after playing as him through all those past games (admittedly a few of them he was one of four or five protagonists, but still no less important to the narrative), the ex-Yakuza still remains a captivating lead. Sympathetic to those in need and always protective of those he loves, Kiryu nonetheless isn’t perfect; it’s his flaws that make him such a great character. He’s too trusting at times, can be somewhat naive, and subtly isn’t always his strong point. He’s also an incredibly intimidating figure, and his voice and presence commands attention whenever he’s on screen.
Whether he’s threatening a beat down against seemingly insurmountable odds or helping a kid retrieve his lost football, the Dragon of Dojima oozes charisma, is incredibly enjoyable to watch in action and most importantly, is genuinely a likeable fellow. The most important thing I can say about Kiryu is that, as the protagonist of the game, I was always rooting for him.
Like A Dragon Gaiden’s narrative feels a lot more intimate this time around due to the fact Kiryu is isolated from his friends, giving the story room to breathe without being suffocated by multiple playable characters competing for screen time. Yes, it’s a lot shorter than what we’re used to, but it’s no less impactful.
The Heat Is On, It’s On The Streets!
Kiryu is basically James Bond in this game. This feeds directly into the new Agent combat style, complementing the existing Yakuza-based fisticuffs fans will be familiar with. Here, our suited and booted hero can yoink enemies closer and pinch nearby weapons a wristwatch-wire, set drones to nibble away at his enemy’s health, lob cigarette bombs into groups, and speed around the battlefield on a pair of flashy sneakers.
This opens up many new tactical possibilities, as each gadget has a genuine use, although it has to be said some feel a bit gimmicky at times and they aren’t much cop against bosses. Using your fists is still the best way, and the Agent style finds Kiryu executing blows with flair and elegence, where he’ll batter enemies with precise blows and swift, acrobatic-style kicks.
Having said that, there’s tons of fun to have blowing up foes and seeing them trying to swat down groups of drones, so the gadgets definitely have their use. As long as you don’t rely on them to dish out the punishment, they’re handy tools.
The Yakuza stye is balls-to-the-walls brawling without the need for flashy gadgetry. Here, Kiryu lets his fists and feet do the talking, with powerful blows, grappling, and hard-hitting combos the order of the day. It treads familiar territory, sure, but remains just as enjoyable nonetheless.
Switching between the two styles gives you plenty of room to experiment and offers a sense of freedom that’s definitely welcome. Heat and Extreme Heat attacks meanwhile explode on the scene with bone-crushing ferocity and cinematic flair, and help keep battles fresh and exciting.
The Ultimate Counters meanwhile are a welcome addition and add a little more strategic nuance to battles as you must time R1 + X carefully with your foes’ powerful blows, before hitting circle within a brief window to turn the tables on them.
The Man Who Erased His Name also taps into the spy shenanigans for its mission structure, too. While many of the story beats are familiar – punch a few people here, chat to someone over there, soak up some exposition, punch another person – the Akame Network injects some freshness to the proceedings.
Akame Network Is A Real Highlight
Akame is a self-proclaimed ‘Jack-Of-All-Trades’ who operates in Sentobori (the game’s primary location) as an information broker and supporter of the homeless. She’s also Kiryu’s main ally in the game, and a great character in her own right; a spunky, take-no-bullshit individual, who enjoys some great banter with our protagonist.
Her main role is to provide our suited arse-kicker with side missions and a huge network of upgrades and perks. These missions are incredibly varied and more than often allow you to meet some of the more colourful characters of the game, and offer self-contained narratives of their own.
Meanwhile, the city streets are rammed with folk in need of help; sometimes it’s as simple as buying a homeless person a drink or hot meal, beating up thugs harassing them, or helping local citizens locate missing objects using your fancy wire to yank them down from trees or buildings.
Completing missions earn your cash and Akame Points that are in turn used to upgrade Kiryu’s abilities, including health, heat, unlocking new attacks, gear slots, upgrading the efficiency of his gadgets, and more. You can also invest in Akame’s network to unlock discounts, new items for purchase in her shop, and perks such as increasing the amount of points earned in missions.
It’s a great addition to the Like A Dragon tapestry, and puts a fresh spin on the series’ usual routine of simply bumping into people to take on side quests. You feel like you are actually making a difference helping people out, and because the Akame Network rank increases, there’s a tangible sense of progression attached to your efforts.
King Of The Castle
The Man Who Erased His Name doesn’t skimp on side distractions. The main highlight is the Caste: a sprawling, neon-lit hive of debauchery located on a massive container tanker that houses the Coliseum, where you’ll battle it out for cash and rank solo or as part of a team.
It’s great fun, and will really test your might in combat; don’t expect to fare well unless you really invest in Kiryu’s abilities, especially for tougher opponents in the high ranks.
Advancing through Silver, Gold and Platinum unlocks perks such as new areas to explore, and there’s even a trainer who provides missions to send your crew off to help level them up. As if it wasn’t obvious enough, yes, the Coliseum is overwhelmingly addictive, and you could easily pour hours into it alone.
Aside from that, there’s karaoke, pool, pocket racing, hostesses (now FMVs featuring real-life models) classic SEGA arcade and Master System Games (Sonic the Fighters, Alex the Kidd in Miracle World etc) and more to keep you entertained.
Like A Dragon Gaiden is still guilty of a few issues, mind. The Castle and Akame Network are both used to artificially extend the length by having you grind up your ranks, which feels a bit cheap and repetitive, but I didn’t find it a major issue. Other times you’ll take part in prolonged battles and face off against a boss at the end, having been depleted of health items.
A few times I was forced to activate Easy mode when prompted, as I simply couldn’t beat my foe due to having exhausted my inventory. It’s annoying, but hardly a game breaker.
Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is everything you would want from a Kiryu-fronted side story. With punchy combat that injects some freshness into the usual button-mashing mayhem, a gripping story packed with memorable characters, and heaps of fantastic quests, The Man Who Erased His Name is nothing short of a gripping affair.
Don’t let its shorter length put you off: there’s more than enough content packed in here to keep you busy while you wait for Infinite Wealth.
Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is due out on November 9, 2023 for PS5, PS4, PC, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.