Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review

March 11, 2024

Xbox Series

Also on:
Xbox One

There’s something to be said for any sort of entertainment that knows exactly what it’s trying to be and what it isn’t. Take The Fast & Furious franchise for example. I absolutely love them as a series and, apparently, so does Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan. They’re not high-cinema, nor will they win any awards for their script writing but they know exactly who their audience are, what they want and aren’t afraid of going beyond what makes sense because it’s fun and that’s all they’re trying to be. The same is true when it comes to the Like a Dragon (previously Yakuza) series of games. Whilst there’s a story in there for you to follow and complete, they’re also great fun with so much else to see and do that it doesn’t matter that they often seem beyond belief in terms of their characters and plot twists.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth carries on from where Yakuza: Like a Dragon left off with you continuing the adventures of former Tojo Clan member Ichiban Kasuga. After a visit from a former ally in his Yakuza days, Kasuga travels to Hawaii in search of someone who he thought was dead and the mystery only deepens upon his arrival. Not only is the person who he’s looking for on the run, but other Hawaii-based clans are seemingly on their tail. In reality, this amounts to having plenty of hostile enemies wandering the streets of Honolulu for you and your party to beat up. Whilst occasionally you may decide to avoid confrontation, the RPG-style combat system employed in Infinite Wealth makes these encounters very entertaining.

Nothing like a good bit of karaoke

Almost everything in the vicinity of your battles can be used or interacted with during combat and, unlike some of the older Yakuza titles, they do not require you to manually pick them up. So long as they are in your area of movement, shown by a ring around the character currently in play, then it will automatically be picked up and used. This ring also helps you understand who will be affected by some attacks or buffs and, because you can combo using other members of your party, help you line things up just right so as to inflict the most amount of damage during your turn. This turn-based combat approach is much more preferable, in my opinion, to the button mashing fights of older titles and rewards those who put in the time getting the right weapons and building their party up just so.

To say there’s a lot of variation in what you can equip your party with is an understatement given that everyday items are sold in weapon shops. In a strange way it kind of adds to the charm and the zaniness that makes playing these titles rather fun. Sure, it’s a bit weird watching your character beat someone up with a large adult entertainment prop but hey, if it’s good enough for Hatchet Harry, then it’s good enough for us. There’s also plenty of clothes and jewellery to purchase which act as armour and health buffs and as you move through the game, crafting becomes available allowing you to truly customise things to your heart's content. It is very, very easy to get distracted by everything else going on in Infinite Wealth that you forget to actually pursue the main story which is both a strength and a weakness.

It’s not just in the battles that punches are landed

If you get too lost in the rabbit holes of side-quests, mini-games and just generally wandering around Honolulu looking for fights, you can easily forget exactly why you’re in Hawaii in the first place and what you were meant to be doing. It certainly adds to the immersion that there’s so much going on but sometimes it’d be helpful to be kept on track now and again rather than being totally let off the leash. Then again, that could just be me as I’ve never completed either of the Red Dead Redemption games as I get too caught up in wandering from town to town playing poker. So I suppose it’s more accurate to say that, if you’re like me and want to do all the things then you may find you get a little lost. However, if you can somehow keep yourself on track and do the rest later, there’s plenty of replayability in here to keep you going long after you’ve completed the story.

Completionists will have many, many hours worth of additional play time given that as well as returning favourites such as karaoke, darts and SEGA arcade games there’s also some larger mini-games at play that will take time to fully complete. There’s the Crazy Taxi-inspired food delivery game, Crazy Delivery. There's a Pokémon parody called Sujimon Battle where you collect the different types of fighters you beat on your travels and then pit your team against others in the arena. There's even a dating app to help Ichiban improve his game (so to speak). Probably the biggest of all of these new minigames is Dondoko Island. Here you are tasked with running your own resort which in itself requires you to collect resources to craft things for your burgeoning resort.

Jobs and side-quests are a blast to play

Whilst the Yakuza/Like a Dragon games can never be accused of being accurate, they can certainly never be called boring. The more you play and interact with the world around Kasuga the zanier and more wonderful the experience. Not to mention they often improve your party’s stats and abilities leading to entertaining fight scenarios and crazy combos. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but if you’re a fan of the series then Infinite Wealth has fine-tuned some of the changes Yakuza: Like a Dragon brought to the series whilst maintaining the heart and soul of the franchise.

It’s amazing to think just how long this series has been around (the original Yakuza game was released in 2005!)  and yet it can improve upon itself to maintain a freshness without betraying what makes a Yakuza game a Yazkua game. They know exactly what type of experience they’re trying to deliver and continue to honour that with pretty much every main franchise release. Whilst there are some franchises that seem to chase the latest trend — I’m looking at you Metal Gear Survive — I feel comforted by the knowledge that Like a Dragon will never betray my trust in that department.

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If you’ve played any of the previous games in the series, you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Equally, if you’ve never played one before, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is as polished as the franchise has ever been.
Pete Taylor

A long time gamer since the days of the mighty ZX Spectrum +2. The bug really bit when I got a Sega Mega Drive 2 and it hasn’t let up since. Huge racing fan but I also enjoy losing myself in a well-told RPG and management sims. It doesn’t have to be good-looking to win my heart, it’s what’s deep down inside that matters.