Like A Dragon: Ishin hands-on preview

Like a Dragon: Ishin!

While at TwitchCon 2022, walking the floor led me to the SEGA booth that let me play a few games including Like A Dragon: Ishin!, which is a remaster of the spinoff game from the PlayStation 3 era.

The name change from Yakuza to Like A Dragon is due to the studios name, Ryu Ga Gotoku, which translates to Like A Dragon. It’s a new change and is the future of the franchise going forward, but the games will essentially remain the same.

What I got to play was a small segment of the game, it gave me a chance to try out some mechanics from this title never released in the West before. Ishin! is a spin-off of the mainline Like A Dragon franchise set in the Bakumatsu era, the final years of the Edo period of Japan where samurai roamed the streets.

In Like a Dragon: Ishin! you take on the role of Sakamoto Ryoma, the spitting image of Kazuma Kiryu from the main series, who seeks to avenge his slain adoptive father. Taking place in Kyo, a fictionalized version of Kyoto, Ryoma joins the Shinsengumi as a Captain to help preserve the control of the Shogunate.

You still run into enemies like in other, previous Like A Dragon games, and the combat flow in Like a Dragon: Ishin! is more of the same but with the inclusion of a sword and pistol “fighting” styles. Special moves and support cards aid in fights with bandits and outlaws that you’ll encounter. Combat pans out with crazy over the top moves and abilities, a staple in the Like A Dragon Franchise.

Besides being like previous games at it’s core with a story that is relatively self-contained, the biggest and most obvious improvement in Like a Dragon: Ishin! is the graphics, and they look nothing short of amazing. Improved framerate, textures, and user interface with new animations are among the biggest changes and are most welcome, especially compared to the original PS3 version.

With the change to Unreal Engine 4, facial performances of characters in game and cutscenes are more realistic. Even in the case of lighting, dirt, clothing, and even weapons, everything has so much detail that it will look like you have been isekai’d into the past.

Scenery and buildings you fight in or out of also have atmosphere that adds a new element that the PS3 game was close to achieving. Some modern remasters add in more items to the world or levels they remake with almost no degree of soul left, but this game and the small pieces I’ve played recently after getting home playing Ishin! on my PS3, this is the safest bet of having the original experience.

The on screen UI is closer to modern mainline games that utilize the minimap in the bottom right corner, health bar in the top left, and support in the bottom left. It’s clean and stylized to be more modern instead of the older archaic first run. I had a lot of fun slashing and spin shooting enemies at the booth and it does impress – and I wish I could play it much more now.

Ultimately, my play session with Like a Dragon: Ishin! at the booth was short but still really fun, and makes me wish I could get through the other games a bit more in my downtime.

First impressions for Like a Dragon: Ishin! were amazing and even going home to try out what I played at home was even more of a learning process. There’s much more that is offered in the game which will be included when it releases in February 2023. No we wait Like A Dragon Dead Souls to get a remaster.

Like a Dragon: Ishin! is set to launch on February 21st, 2023 across Windows PC (via Steam and the Microsoft Store), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.
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