Like A Dragon Gaiden Review Round-Up: Take Care Of Yourself, Kiryu

Like A Dragon Gaiden Review Round-Up: Take Care Of Yourself, Kiryu

Reviews for Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His went up overnight, and they are generally pretty positive. I think the Like a Dragon series is one you either get or you don’t. You’re either obsessed with it, or you’re entirely ambivalent about it. The review scores on this latest game seem to reflect that division in taste.

For the record, I am firmly in the obsessed crowd, and I cannot wait to play it.

The latest in a long run of games in 2023 to receive glowing praise from critics this year, Like a Dragon Gaiden is positioned as a proper farewell to long-time series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu. The game throws it back to early Like a Dragon games in terms of its tone and mechanics — arcade brawlers that are occasionally silly, set against the backdrop of a deadly serious factional war between Yakuza.

As we always do with our round-ups, we’ll check in with what the Aussies thought first and then collect the thoughts of outlets further afield. Let’s get into it.

The Aussies

Checkpoint Gaming was the highest-ranked outlet among the Aussie cohort, awarding the game a 9/10, saying “Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name more than justifies its existence. It creates fantastic points of tension and a real constant threat in Kiryu’s attempts at anonymity as he butts head with the Yakuza and some mysterious, shadowy figures. Always keeping me on the edge of my seat, it’s a heavy-hitter in the narrative, having me actively weep at the conclusion. This kind of magnificence is the payoff of years upon years of hard franchise work, entirely rewarding for longtime fans though boldly unapologetic and unforgiving to the newcomers. Slamming enemy’s heads into walls and getting emotional over the franchise-long angst and baggage our beloved protagonist holds has truly never felt this good. Despite now hosting more than a dozen entries, Gaiden proves the Like a Dragon name is still endlessly valuable to this day. Bring on the next dozen, I say.”

Player 2 awarded the game a B+, which Metacritic interprets as an 83 score, saying “The perfect slice of Kiryu for returning fans, Like A Dragon Gaiden is a piece of fantastic filler to keep players entertained while they wait for the bigger games to follow. Those new to the franchise need not apply.”

GamesHub gave it four stars, saying, “As always, it’s those intimate and emotional human elements that make Like A Dragon Gaiden so gratifying. Whether or not we needed to see Kiryu be pulled back so heavily into the underworld against his will is another question entirely, but if we believe at this point that the end is truly nigh for Kiryu in Infinite Wealth, this one last go-around to spend a few more deeply personal moments with him is something to be cherished – as a bittersweet way to get ready to say goodbye (for whenever that time actually comes around). Take care of yourself, Kiryu.”

Press Start gave it an 8, saying, “While The Man Who Erased His Name is a very safe Like A Dragon experience, longtime fans are sure to relish its smaller scope and renewed focus on Kiryu. It might lack some of the suspense and unpredictability of prior entries, but more than makes up for it in its more intimate exploration of one of the most legendary characters in gaming.”

Stevivor also gave it an 8/10, saying, “While I did warm to new Like A Dragon protagonist Ichiban quickly, you can’t forget the OG. It’s great to see Kiryu take a victory lap in this tightly designed, smaller-scale story before the next big chapter kicks off in January 2024 with Like A Dragon Infinite Wealth!”

The rest of the world

Game Rant awarded it four stars, saying, “The title does more than an excellent job of setting the stage for Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, a tale in which Kazuma Kiryu and Like a Dragon’s Ichiban Kasuga will have their fates intertwined during the Dragon of Dojima’s final days. Those fans who complete Gaiden will get a first glimpse at Infinite Wealth, as story completion unlocks a Special Trial Version of the title. Like a Dragon: The Man Who Erased His Name marks the beginning of the end for Kazuma Kiryu, but, if its quality is anything to go by, the Like a Dragon series has a long and bright future ahead.”

PCMag, also four stars: “Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is another excellent entry in the Yakuza/Like a Dragon series, one that’s packed to the gills with crime drama, oddball humor, and many mini-games.”

TheGamer, also four stars: “Gaiden left me wanting more. I want to see those new characters make a return. I hope we see the Boutique again. But most importantly, I hope this isn’t the final time we see action combat in the series. Even with Infinite Wealth on the Horizon, I hope there is still room for smaller, more experimental games like this in the series’ future.”

Destructoid gave it an 8/10, saying “Like a Dragon Gaiden has games, laughs, tears, and brawls where characters dramatically reveal their resplendent back tattoos. It does what a new Like a Dragon entry needs to do, and tees up some big emotional moments for its longtime series lead along the way. If you want a deep story with twists and turns, this may not be all you hope for. But if you run off the beaten path to get a model AiAi out of the UFO Catcher, this should more than tide you over to Infinite Wealth.”

Gamespot, another 8/10: “And so there I was, sitting in front of my TV, watching Gaiden‘s ending, crying like a damn baby over the hardships of a fictional man again–and I know those who’ve also been on this ride over the years will feel me on this. Gaiden may be a brief excursion that occasionally leaves the full potential of its supporting cast on the table and often relies on remixing ideas from the series’ past, but with enough new features to make combat exciting and a buffet of high-quality side content, it’s still some of the most fun I’ve had with an RGG game. More importantly, I was just happy to be in Kiryu’s shoes again for another emotional story and to brace myself for what lies ahead for the beloved series.”

Game Informer, another 8/10: “At only 14 to 15 hours, Gaiden is a fun, comparatively short return to the world of Kiryu “Joryu” Kazuma. By the time credits roll, Gaiden neatly establishes Kiryu’s role in the next mainline game, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, and since that game’s out in a few months, the brief taste gave me plenty to be excited for. I wish the story were more interested in exploring who Kiryu is now that he’s forced into this double life, but as a thin bridge between games, Gaiden is a neat one. And I’ll always appreciate an excuse to hit the streets and the thugs therein with my favorite dummy.”

Metro gave it 3.5 stars, saying, “A much smaller Like A Dragon game, that offers everything fans love about the series, but one that doesn’t quite justify its own existence.”

PC Gamer gave it a 7/10, saying, “It may be shorter, but it still packs a punch. Like a Dragon: Gaiden does little new, but its story is fascinating and heartbreaking in equal measure.”

Games Radar gave it 3 stars, saying, “Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is a return to form for series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu with its beat’em up gameplay, but cheapens previous send-offs by merit of existing.”

And rounding out the internationals is IGN with a 7/10: “Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is kind of like the cup of miso soup served before Infinite Wealth’s main course – it delivers an enjoyably familiar flavour that stimulates the appetite but doesn’t really make for a substantial meal in its own right. It effectively feels like an appropriate lead-in to next year’s game in ways both good and bad – on the one hand, it gives a satisfying bit of back story to account for Kiryu’s presence in Hawaii, but on the other, its uninspired substories and rehashed side activities are proof positive that the series is crying out for the seachange that Infinite Wealth looks to provide. That said, Gaiden’s gadget-heavy combat definitely kept me consistently entertained over the course of its compact crime story, so although I was less inclined to search for distractions outside of the destruction, I still enjoyed this latest dose of Kazama Kiryu carnage while it lasted.”

Image: Sega

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