Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Hits Hawaii

by Intel Gaming |

The last 12 months have delivered an embarrassment of riches for fans of the Like a Dragon series. February 2023 saw the release of Like a Dragon Ishin!, a remake of 2014’s Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin!, followed in November by Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. Now in January 2024 comes RPG adventure Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. The latest fully fledged series entry has been met with a blistering critical reception, proving the franchise has plenty of bruising punches still to swing. Intel Gaming Access traded blows with Hiroyuki Sakamoto, chief producer on the Like a Dragon series at SEGA’s Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, to find out how his team can apparently do no wrong.

Sakamoto describes Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth as “a legitimate sequel to Yakuza: Like a Dragon.” Like the 2020 game, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is set partly in the semi-fictional Isezaki Ijincho district of Yokohama, but also on an authentically realized Hawaii, making it the first time the series has featured a location outside of Japan. The game’s story follows on directly from November’s Gaiden entry. “It’s an emotional RPG that depicts the greatest drama of the series with twin protagonists: Kasuga Ichiban, a man who once again crawls up from the bottom, and Kiryu Kazuma, a man who faces the last battle of his life,” says Sakamoto. “This is true of the Ryū ga Gotoku series in general, but in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, you will enjoy a moving human drama depicted on an even more overwhelming scale.”

The development team appears to have had a blast with the Hawaiian setting, conjuring up a ton of surfer-appropriate escapades on the beach and beyond. “Other than the main story — which I am sure will touch the hearts of players — the game is packed with all kinds of fun,” says Sakamoto. The playable chaos includes laugh-out-loud sub-plots, mini-games, nostalgic arcade games, and even a simulation where you can create your own island. “It’s difficult to explain in a few words, because it’s rare to find such enjoyable content in a single game,” adds Sakamoto. “The main story alone is so large that it takes 80 hours to complete.”

Into that context comes the game’s amped up battle system, which Sakamoto and his colleagues also seem to have gone to town on. “Battles have evolved into a new live command RPG battle with more strategy,” says Sakamoto. “With the addition of new jobs and extensive customization and training elements, players can create their strongest party.” 

The Like a Dragon series wears its Japanese and western mafia drama influences on its sleeve, but the team now finds most of its world-building fuel in the present day setting of recent games. “I believe that real life current events, news, and trends that are happening in society as we speak, is where we get our inspiration,” says Sakamoto.

With the rich legacy of games in the series, and the vast community of enthusiastic fans — notably, the number of international players has increased greatly since Yakuza: Like a Dragon — you could be forgiven for thinking player feedback had an impact on the direction the games take. “We often receive opinions and feedback at shows, events, and on social media,” says Sakamoto. “Having said that, to be honest, there are very few interactions with fans that have influenced our development. We believe it’s necessary for us to maintain our stance of always creating what we think is interesting and delivering surprise and excitement.” Whatever they’re doing, it’s working.

The Like a Dragon series shows no signs of slowing down, although Sakamoto remains tight-lipped on the future: “After Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, we of course have many more concepts in mind, but we are not ready to release them to the public yet.” But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The latest release deserves our attention right now. “I truly believe that Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is one of the best in the Ryu Ga Gotoku series,” Sakamoto affirms. Sakamoto appears to throw down the gauntlet with his parting shot: “A wealth of experiences awaits you, with more content than you can possibly play through.” That sounds like a red rag to a bull for series fans. “I would be very happy if you could play it from beginning to end,” he adds. Who are we to deny him?

Buy Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth on Steam