Video Gamer is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices subject to change. Learn more
In 2020, Yakuza: Like a Dragon added some much-needed colour into a franchise built on grey paths splattered with blood. While it traded fistfights and heat actions for turn-based elemental attacks, LaD’s fledgling combat didn’t nail the landing but its heart-wrenching story did. With massive shoes to fill, Ichiban Kasuga’s kindness and dogged belief in his friends helped him stand tall next to Kiryu’s brick wall of willpower.
A new cast of endearing ruffians worked with the old guard to dismantle two major yakuza clans in Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Three years later, the tidy gift wrap begins to unfurl as powers both old and new emerge in Infinite Wealth. Religious zealots, nuclear waste, and the growing pains of Japan shedding its yakuza era bring new antagonists into the picture.
The infinity symbol in the eighth mainline Yakuza (now Like a Dragon) game is more than a branding exercise. The desire for more has always been a core tenet of the franchise, perfectly showcased by the counterfeit money scheme in the previous title. While this desire is alive and well in some of Infinite Wealth’s antagonists, its cycles of remembrance and revenge are also worth examining.
With protagonist Kazama Kiryu approaching the end of his metaphorical life cycle just as Ichiban Kasuga finds his wings, passing the torch is inevitable. Watching Kiryu learn to lean on new friends and Ichiban track down his past is the last supper of a journey that RGG Studio has been cooking for nearly two decades.
In a franchise packed with memorable characters, drip-feeding longtime fans with tributes while catering to an expanding audience isn’t simple. While you don’t need to be a series veteran to enjoy Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, play Yakuza: Like a Dragon to learn how its key characters team up like the flavours of a richly spiced broth. Infinite Wealth’s excursion in Hawaii amplifies this with four-member party pairings that don’t follow reason or rhythm. But by letting these characters untangle plot threads and forge bonds, it feels more like a shared adventure than any of the previous games. Kiryu has long had to rely on his fists and the occasional ally but Infinite Wealth gives him a gang of his own.
Unlike some earlier Yakuza titles, Infinite Wealth runs a tight ship when it comes to its main cast. Panicky Tomizawa and unpredictable Chitose quickly join the ranks alongside ex-cop Adachi, nurse-turned-homeless Nanba, and cabaret hostess Saeko. Geomijul and Liumang clan boss Seonhee, clan boss-turned-chef Zhao, and the mysterious Joon-gi Han join your adventure eventually as well. And while love blooms in Infinite Wealth, its conclusion may surprise you.
Expect the motivations of key faces like Bryce, Yamai, Ebina, and Sawashiro to bring twists at every step of the way. Danny Trejo’s role as ruthless Barracuda gang kingpin Dwight Mendez didn’t pack the range of its other key villains but his District Five turf lent plenty of guns and violence to Hawaii’s beaches. Despite the imminent threats, the sun shines bright in Hawaii and offers up some gorgeous visuals, polished character models, and zany special effects thanks to the Dragon Engine underneath.
The plot takes the Yakuza 0 route of switching between protagonists as the 14 chapters go on, meaning that Ichiban and Kiryu end up with two sides of Infinite Wealth’s absolute buffet of minigame content. There’s Crazy Delivery, a Crazy Taxi-like spin on UberEats. Sujimon is equal parts deck builder and card battles, complete with raid spots and gifts for enemy encounters that act as Pokeballs. Miss Match’s Tinder aspirations tug on the same heartstrings as the calling minigame from older titles. And Dondoko Island eclipses them all with base building, resource gathering, and a separate storyline. That’s before the usual array of sports and clubs enter the picture. Karaoke is as entertaining as ever.
The best part is that all these activities shape Persona-like bonds between team members, culminating in Drink Link conversations at bars that enhance their combat abilities. The game’s excellent voice acting comes into focus here as two friends share their worries and emotions over a drink. These build on Walk & Talk events that seamlessly fill character-specific Bond Bingo tables as you explore the game’s three massive locations. This applies to both Kiryu and Ichiban’s parties, rewarding you for simply exploring the map and engaging in its activities.
While Hawaii’s side stories and real-life locations treat Ichiban to the franchise’s bizarre side, Kiryu goes back to his roots. With the sombre bucket list trailer opening Kiryu’s past in a bid to tie up loose ends and reminisce about what was, it makes perfect sense to split the gang and let the dragon of Dojima prowl the streets of Kamurocho and Ijincho one last time. His new Awakening level can be raised by detective Date’s arranged meets with legacy characters and visiting old haunts.
Every longtime Yakuza fan owes it to themselves to walk down memory lane for some spiritual healing. After ten games (counting spinoffs), these paths, places, and people become awfully familiar even without a mini-map. While RGG Studio has been a little too forthcoming with their reveal trailers, it’s safe to say that there are plenty of surprises from earlier games and even spinoffs.
Few of these encounters end with the franchise staple beatdowns but they fulfil a sense of longing you didn’t know you had. My only complaint is that these tender farewells are tarnished by Kiryu’s stubbornness to erase his name and preserve his fake death. That’s probably intentional with a spinoff titled Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.
Combat was one of Yakuza: Like a Dragon’s sore points and Infinite Wealth expands it with several meaningful additions. Poundmates are back, letting you call side characters and even some old friends into battle. The new job system gives your characters a variety of loadouts (Samurai or Geodancer, anyone?) as they inherit skills from jobs you’ve already levelled up. Gaining limited movement lets you plan out combos and back attacks for maximum damage as you take advantage of the environment.
This is especially true for some new boss fights, recontextualized with fantasy flair thanks to Ichiban’s Dragon Quest obsession. Status effects like poison, cold, charm, and paralysis are even more prominent this time, bestowing you with moments of respite during large-scale encounters. A crafting and upgrades system lets you take full advantage of this with job-specific elemental gear. But these costs ended up making me stick to specific jobs for characters instead of experimenting. Kiryu’s given the star treatment here, with the ability to ‘break’ the turn-based combat momentarily to get some punches and kicks in. Its clever usage in a certain boss fight elevates it beyond some of the franchise’s best duels.
Over-the-top tag team attacks and the fan-favourite signature moves sprinkle some spectacle into Infinite Wealth’s battles. Watching Seonhee’s crew snare foes with electric rope darts or Tomizawa leap out of a taxi before an explosion will always leave my face plastered with a grin. Kiryu switching between his three combat styles mid-signature move is another bombastic highlight. While story progression was held back by a couple of 30-minute grinds at Infinite Wealth’s procedural dungeons, it didn’t slow the pacing of the game.
While some see Kiryu’s unyielding will as a character trait, some of his side story reunions feel unfinished as a result. It’s easy for in-game emotions to bleed into your life, especially with several games’ worth of shared trials and losses. While the game’s main emotional climax breaks some long-standing cycles and is well worth the 50-hour journey, it took me some time to accept that Kiryu chose this path. Ichiban’s story of betrayals, conflict, and triumph runs parallel to Kiryu’s tale of acceptance, making for a coherent narrative that doesn’t dilute either of its characters’ aspirations.
Infinite Wealth honours its dying dragon and rising star with a Hawaiian platter of side stories, memoirs, and dynamic combat. While Uncle Kaz gets a definitive ending that is sure to draw both critique and introspection, there’s plenty of gungho heart that Ichiban Kasuga and gang bring to the table for the franchise’s future.
Reviewed on PC. Code provided by the publisher.