Yakuza 7 has already garnered a lot of attention in Japan and abroad. Over the past few years, the game’s reputation has forced publisher Sega’s hand in bringing the beloved “dramedy” action series over to the West. Now, we have word of Yakuza 7’s release in the West. And it has a fresh new name, too: Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
An announcement trailer was released on the official Twitter for Yakuza development studio Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, and the six-minute video already shows off plenty. It’s a necessary length — after all, this new Yakuza game overturns the old cast and setting, and introduces a whole new scenario.
This trailer for the brand-new game centers on Ichiban Kasuga. Someone in his clan has shot a member of the Sakaki Family, implied to be a rival clan, or at least part of one. “Ichi” eagerly accepts an offer to go to prison instead of his boss. Now, 18 years later, Ichi emerges from prison, but his clan has all but left him behind. He is exiled to Yokohama, where he must navigate the tricky politics of the three clans that rule the area and regain power from “rock bottom.”
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The factions of Yokohama are quickly introduced in this trailer. Interestingly, three respectively represent each of the major Eastern Asian powers. First are The Ijin Three, dubbed “Masters of Yokohama.” Little is said, except that if one is not friends with them, they’re instead enemies. Local sect of the Chinese mafia, The Yokohama Liumang (apparently just meaning “gangsters”), is led by Tianyou Zhao, who looks dressed up in a “cool” style. The last is, of course Korean, The Geomijul, which is described as “behind the fortification” and “shapeless as a spider’s web;” the leader appears to be a woman named Seong-Hui. Finally, the yakuza in charge here is the Seiryu clan, with Ryuhei Hoshino in charge.
Followers of the series will get a surprise via a new combat system. Per previous updates and new Tokyo Game Show presentations, it seems the combat has been changed from purely action-based and beat-em-up to a more menu-style game, like other turn-based JRPGs. It’s more interesting than just click-and-fight; it appears the enemies rotate in and out for you to give each a good beatdown.
Some fans are disappointed at the change of pace. Normally, Yakuza takes place in Kamurocho, a fictional district of Tokyo. The games cycle through different “chapters” in the characters’ life, specifically protagonist Kazuma Kiryu. But for fans who haven’t kept up with Yakuza, it could be a fresh opportunity to hop in.
The official Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio Twitter promises “everything you already love about Yakuza” in this new setting. Frankly, for loyal fans of the series, there’s a lot. Between the more serious scenarios that a high-politics, action-based game brings, each game offers a colorful cast and often-wonky situations. After all,Yakuza 0 is most infamous for its dancing game mode.
I’m also optimistic about the continued antics of the game given one of the closing lines is Ichi comparing himself (or something) to Dragon Quest. Again, Yakuza ebbs and flows in how seriously it takes itself, and the cadence pays off; this is a good sign of the series’s mindfulness to that. Or maybe Ichi just really likes the new turn-based system.
We don’t have a solid date besides 2020 for a Western release. The Japanese equivalent, Yakuza 7, will be released on January 16, 2020.