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A PAX West Glimpse Was Enough: Like a Dragon Gaiden is My Most Anticipated Adventure in 2023

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via Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio/Sega

As someone who’s only recently dipped their toes into the vast ocean of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s creations — a year and a half ago, to be precise — my entry point was the world of Yakuza: Like a Dragon. It was a thrilling introduction that left me both awed and hungry for more.

The intricate narrative, coupled with a dynamic gaming environment, ignited a newfound passion within me — a burning desire to explore the rest of the legendary studio’s games in their entirety. With that fresh perspective, the anticipation for “Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name” is all the more personal and profound as I await its release next month on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

The heart of any great game lies in its world-building, and from what I gathered during my playthrough at PAX West 2023, “Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name” promises to be an epic tale set in a captivating locale. The Castle isn’t just a backdrop; it’s an entity in itself. This high-stakes, secretive adult playground is reminiscent of the neon-lit streets and alleyways I encountered in “Yakuza: Like a Dragon,” but with a twist. Here, the clandestine corridors and expansive rooms promise more than just criminal intrigue. With glitzy casinos offering games of chance, romantic cabaret clubs promising intimate escapades, and the Coliseum beckoning with its fierce battles, every corner seems to hide a new challenge or story. The allure of exploring this hidden gem, where each room or alley can harbor secrets, is intoxicating.

Where serious meets silly

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via Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio/Sega

Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio seems to have mastered the art of juxtaposing intense brawls with moments of pure, unbridled humor. The combat mechanics, as teased in the demo, have piqued my interest like few others have. Innovative gadgets that promise fluidity in combat are all well and good, but then you throw in rocket shoes? It’s this genius stroke of blending gravity-defying combat with a dose of whimsy that had me completely enthralled in Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

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And if the demo is any indication, Gaiden promises to elevate this even further. This blend of gravity and levity promises not just an engaging gameplay experience, but also an emotional roller coaster that expertly balances the highs with the lows.

Character-driven narratives: The soul of the game

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via Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio/Sega

Kazuma Kiryu and Akame, although mere glimpses in the demo, promise characters rich in depth and complexity. Games from Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio have always had a flair for the dramatic, and their characters are often at the center of this whirlwind. In Yakuza: Like a Dragon, I was drawn into a web of relationships, betrayals, and alliances, and each character played a pivotal role in that narrative.

For me, there’s an undeniable allure to movies that dive into the world of former gangsters pulled back into the very vortex from which they once escaped. These stories, often rich in both atmosphere and character depth, chronicle a complex struggle of redemption, loyalty, and personal demons. The hero (or anti-hero), once entrenched in the underworld, attempts to carve out a semblance of normalcy, only to be dragged back by circumstances or old affiliations. It’s this very tension, this dance on the knife-edge between past sins and present aspirations, that captivates me.

With Gaiden, I’m eagerly anticipating what Kiryu’s journey will entail and how Akame will guide, or perhaps misguide, him through The Castle. The relationships, the dialogues, the subtle nuances of each character – they don’t just add layers to the game; they are the soul of the experience. I think that it’s this promise of diving deep into their stories, of unraveling their mysteries, that has me most excited.

A welcoming gateway to a rich universe

One of the things that stood out to me with the demo of Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is its inclusivity. While it’s undoubtedly rooted in the rich lore of the Yakuza universe, it doesn’t alienate newcomers — at least, it didn’t feel that way to me, a relative newbie. Instead, it seems to welcome them with open arms, offering an experience that can be enjoyed regardless of your familiarity with the Yakuza or Judgment series. It ensures that newcomers like myself, who have only brushed the surface with Yakuza: Like a Dragon, can get immersed in this new story without feeling lost or overwhelmed. And who knows, for many, this might be the gateway into exploring the broader universe that Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has meticulously crafted over the years, like Like a Dragon did for me.

Given its track record, I have no doubts about Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s ability to deliver yet another masterpiece. Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name seems poised to be an epic adventure of unparalleled scale and depth. And as the launch date nears, my anticipation only grows. I’m ready to journey back into this world, to uncover new stories, to face new challenges, and to once again be swept off my feet by the sheer brilliance of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio.

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