Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name (PlayStation 5) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 27.01.2024

Review for Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name on PlayStation 5

Now completed its transition from Yakuza to Like a Dragon, the series is carving itself a new space in the Turn-Based RPG realm! However, so as not to forget its roots, Like a Dragon: Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name drops players back into the original series' game design to provide contact to Kiryu's continued story. Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, the developers, have always had a penchant for blurring the lines between gritty crime drama and fun, schlocky humour, but can they pull it off when re-visiting a much beaten-down version of their previous protagonist?

There are minor spoilers for Yakuza 6 in this story segment. Kiryu, having untangled all the violence and plots from both Yakuza and non-Yakuza factions as well as saving his adopted daughter and her child, finds himself in a fresh hell. Having agreed to give up his life and be officially recognised as dead means he is working with the Daidoji as deployable muscle. This existence isn't devoid of the usual Kiryu (now known as Joryu) charm as he makes friends and finds reasons to push through as he always has. This story unfolds before, alongside and after Yakuza: Like a Dragon and therefore is quite long and complex. The most enjoyable aspect is Kiryu insisting he isn't Kiryu to everyone and almost everyone blowing that off and seeing right through him - he does have a rather memorable face… and voice. These story elements and the raw emotion Kiryu shows at multiple points of the adventure are already promising elements of a great game. Often, as the game shows its full hand, it becomes impossible to put down, giving off a "Just one more chapter" vibe. It is a satisfying story that not only bridges the gaps but successfully presents a more unique, nuanced insight into Kiryu's character and the world of Like a Dragon.

Screenshot for Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name on PlayStation 5

This game sees a return to the traditional action gameplay the series thrived upon until its most recent mainline games. It feels very similar to Yakuza 6 but with the adjustments that were made during the Judgment series that make the combat feel more structured, allowing for the physics and skills to both shine during fights. Adding a sort of spy aesthetic with Kiryu keeping a low profile, there are now gadgets he can deploy in battle! The first of these is a grappling hook-type device that allows for long range grabs as well as having some use in the game world. It's a fun thing to experiment with and as the game progresses he gains access to a few more gadgets that expand combat options and changes up the gameplay, offering further strategic choices. Combat flows well, allowing for multi-combatant brawls or more nuanced one on one battles that flow very differently. It all feels fantastic.

Naturally, fighting makes up just one small part of the title and exists cohesively alongside loads of other systems. Exploration of each of the areas available to the player is much the same as it always has been in the recent series' entries. It feels great and offers a lot of interactive points in terms of restaurants and shops that can be used to refill health and stock up ahead of story events or fights. Each area is lovingly rendered and brimming with NPCs, most of which will react to the player's actions. Many of these NPCs have side content to offer, which in this title takes the form of the "Akame Network". Kiryu meets Akame in Sotenbori, and she becomes crucial to the story as well as brokering the side content. Not only is the side content well written and colourful but often it's very mechanically rewarding, offering untold riches to the players who see it through. Players also have access to a first person mode that can be used while exploring, both to look for collectables or just to enjoy exploring realistic bits of Japan in staggering detail.

Screenshot for Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name on PlayStation 5

There are also the minigames - Like a Dragon has always revelled in Arcade game conversions, the Pocket Racer or Real Estate mini games, etc… Every game has its catchall. For this game, Pocket Racer makes its return and it is just as fun to customise cars and race as it was back in Yakuza 0. These extras always made the world of Like a Dragon appear more alive and lived in, as well as offering what is essentially an eccentric geek fantasy version of Japan but not so off the rails it ever becomes an ungrounded world (at least outside of the craziest moments). This time players can also accessorise and dress up Kiryu in a variety of outfits that are reflected almost everywhere. They get one main game outfit and one fighting outfit for the coliseum. The coliseum is one of the bigger side events, the story railroads Kiryu to it but it then becomes an activity the player can self manage and progress in for extra rewards. It is a very fun diversion and it also allows the player to create teams of fighters to manage.

Visually the series has always incrementally updated its features and this new entry is no different. Things look better than they ever have with all areas exhibiting great nighttime lighting and characters having better and better animations both inside and outside of cutscenes. Where things still struggle, though have drastically improved, is the daytime lighting where certain things in the environment feel flatter or slightly stand out from everything else. This has always been the case with the games but bit by bit the developers are cracking the code of great looking daytime city environments. The way that this title bunnyhops around so many iconic locations from the series, the levels of detail and polish on show at all times is surprising. Never did this reviewer need to stop and wonder what was up with something.

Screenshot for Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name on PlayStation 5

This sentiment is seconded by the excellent sound design. There is an excellent voiceover that is never obscured accidentally by background sounds, and city soundscapes that are both iconic for the series and ever improving. These blend together to lend that last level of atmosphere the series is so famous for. The raw emotion in the performance of the characters is spectacular and really lends the story a weight that makes it irresistible; these are real people, people fans of the series know inside out and really want to see happy. Of course a voiceover can't carry the atmospheric highs itself and the music is also no slouch. Musically there is so much variety and thematic harmony that the composer should be, as ever, patting their back in congratulations. The music of the series is not only a highlight when deployed to convey a mood, it also is very well known for its karaoke segments where players can enjoy energetic, heartfelt and comedic numbers all animated with a flamboyant edge.

Screenshot for Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name on PlayStation 5

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has done it again, Like a Dragon: Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is another notch in their award adorned catalogue. The emotional journey of series favourite Kiryu and the important bridging of the gap between Yakuza 6 and 7 is a joy to behold and experience. This entry presents the best version of the now deprecated action combat design and is one of the most consistently great experiences to be had on the PlayStation 5 console.


Ryu Ga Gotoku




Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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