Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is not only a ridiculously long title, but it’s also the newest action game from Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. Previously known as the Yakuza series in Western countries, the franchise has grown from its cult roots into a certified mainstream blockbuster. However, with over a dozen different sequels, remakes, and spin-offs to consider, it’s a hard for newcomers to know where to start. Here’s your answer: Like a Dragon Gaiden is the best Yakuza game to play first.
Stop Talking, Start Punching People in the Face
Like a Dragon/Yakuza games are well-known for their exciting action and enjoyable open-world formula, but they often take a while to get going. Players are commonly subjected to lengthy cutscenes before getting into the action, but that’s not the case in Like a Dragon Gaiden. Sure, the game takes a few minutes to set the stakes and introduce key characters, but it just as quickly throws you into the action.
Playing as Kazuma Kiryu (the main protagonist of Yakuza 0 – Yakuza 6: Song of Life), an ex-leader of the Yakuza who has faked his own death, you don a lazy disguise (a single pair of sunglasses – hilarious) and do odd jobs to keep your family safe.
These jobs mostly involve beating the ever-loving hell out of goons and baddies aplenty, usually with your fists or any weapon you can get your hands on. Like a Dragon Gaiden keeps things nice and simple, gently offering guidance as you pulverize your way through the game’s prologue.
Like a Dragon Gaiden‘s Open World Buffet
While a compelling story about Japanese crime and rich combat make up 50% of the Like a Dragon/Yakuza recipe, the other 50% is a mish-mash of side quests, quirky mini-games, and challenge completion. After the first story chapter, Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name throws players into Sotenbori, a small yet densely filled map with all manner of side activities to enjoy.
You can take a trip to the arcade and play some claw games or Virtua Fighter, throw some darts at the bar, or even flirt with stunning hostesses in a new “immersive” (and unintentionally hilarious) cabaret club mini-game.
Better yet, you are rewarded for indulging in these activities through the Akame Network, which offers a long list of optional tasks to complete. You can pick up requests from citizens of Sotenbori to level up your Akame Network reputation, unlocking new features, extra quests, and more. This is all accessible just an hour or so after starting the game, and you can easily ignore the main story for a few hours as you indulge in a huge list of distractions around Sotenbori.
The Best Yakuza Game to Play First
If you’ve found yourself interested in the Yakuza franchise in the past, but were intimidated by the long list of options, the choice is now easy. Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is a spin-off that offers everything you’d find in a mainline game, but at a cheaper price and with much less commitment required. It also doubles as a demo for the upcoming Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth (basically Yakuza 8), so players can also get a taste of the next big entry without downloading anything extra.
Like a Dragon Gaiden is available on all major platforms except the Nintendo Switch. It is also currently included in the Xbox Game Pass subscription, which I highly recommend.
This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.