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Editors's Choice Jan, 2024

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review

Chris Moyse
23, Jan, 2024, 15:00 GMT
Reviewed On PS5
Available On:

Pros

  • Fantastic world design
  • Emotive & engaging story
  • Deep, ever-evolving combat
  • Polished & riveting cinematics
  • Countless fun side-activities
  • Packed with pleasing callbacks for fans

Cons

  • Open-world nature impacts narrative pacing
  • Parry system occasionally hindered by camera

Final Verdict

100
Read Final Verdict

Upon loading Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, the player is greeted with a nicely animated ident for developer Ryu ga Gotoku Studio. This slick, uber-cool sequence features a montage of characters and moments from Like a Dragon titles past, recalling some of the people, events, and indelible memories of nearly two decades of releases that precede this latest chapter.

And it’s fascinating to reminisce about the launch on The Series Formerly Known As Yakuza. To those (such as myself) who remember those halcyon PS2 days, it offers memories of fuzzy visuals, forced English dubs, and load screen, after load screen, after load screen. But while these issues were a mild frustration at the time, the early Yakuza titles still successfully garnered a small-but-devoted fanbase in the western hemisphere. This devotion was mostly thanks to Yakuza’s unique blend of non-patronizing writing, complex plotting, intense brawling action, and its cast of both likable and loathsome characters - a cast fronted by one of the greatest gaming heroes of all time: The Dragon of Dojima, Kazuma Kiryu.

While the series would continue to entertain its cult audience over the ensuing years, producing sequels, spin-offs, and a lore-breaking zombie shooter, it wasn’t until the 2015 release of Yakuza 0 that the action-RPG franchise really blew up on a global scale. Capitalizing on this newfound success, RGG Studio released two swiftly produced remakes - pushed out to help new fans catch up with Kiryu-chan’s backstory - and before long the Yakuza franchise became a household name within international gaming, attracting more and more fans to its high melodrama, extreme violence, and, increasingly, its utterly bonkers comedy.

Having now adopted its officially translated title of “Like a Dragon”, The Ryu ga Gotoku series has continued to evolve, introducing new heroes, villains, locales, and mechanics in efforts to fine-tune the formula to near-perfection. And this week, nearly 20 years on from the series’ subdued debut, Ryu ga Gotoku Studio is prepped to launch Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. This bold and ambitious release, the biggest release in the studio’s history, hopes to be a proud, sincere celebration of the long miles, broken bodies, downed whiskeys, and angered cabaret hostesses that have led to this point.

But ultimately, it proves to be a celebration of more.

So much more.

Ichiban Kasuga is back on the streets, and the streets have never been hotter

It’s impossible not to describe Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth as a “Greatest Hits” package of the entire LaD franchise. From its story to its cast, its themes to its combat, and even in its locations and side activities, Infinite Wealth has been clearly and cleanly developed as a heartfelt tribute to RGG Studios’ storied franchise. There is a clear vibe of “culmination” that permeates the entire game and, to make a pretty clunky comparison, Infinite Wealth carries itself in a similar manner to the Infinity War & Endgame films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; a hybrid pinnacle of and love letter to each and every chapter that has paved the way to RGG’s magnum opus.

The story follows Ichiban Kasuga, hero of the seventh mainline chapter, who finds himself down on his luck following a mysterious dalliance with cancel culture. Following an audience with an old friend and with nowhere left to turn, our happy-go-lucky hero finds himself headed for Honolulu, recruited into what is essentially the deadliest and most popular game of “Find the Lady” ever played.

Of course, it isn’t too long before Our Man in Hawaii finds himself looking down the barrel of a gun, son of a gun, and it soon becomes clear that every shady organization in town has the exact same missing lady in their sights. As to the whys and hows and wherefores? Well, I won’t go into too much detail, as Infinite Wealth prides itself on the many twists and turns of its storyline. Needless to say, the stakes become incredibly high, and Ichiban is going to need every trick, bicycle wheel, and crawfish in the book to survive this caper.

Fortunately, Ichiban isn’t alone, and help soon arrives in a posse of new and familiar allies. These include The Dragon of Dojima himself, who has his own reasons for tracking down the missing madam. This squad of heroes is up against a veritable army of deathdealers, ranging from U.S.-based Yakuza and local gangbangers, to the Chinese Mafia and a very unexpected cabal of new enemies. The Like a Dragon series likes to outnumber its protagonists, and these odds are not only inevitable, but they only serve to make Ichiban and Co’s journey all the more intriguing.

(1 of 2) Infinite Wealth offers wild and chaotic combat,

Infinite Wealth offers wild and chaotic combat, (left), complete with trademark bicycle violence (right)

Critically, it’s worth noting that Infinite Wealth‘s storyline is arguably not the strongest in the series to date. Despite all of the globe-trotting, the huge cast of characters, and the twisty-turny nature of its plot, Ichiban’s core story follows a relatively plain thread. When events do choose to get a little more complicated, they often rely on handy convenience, resulting in a tale that starts to fall apart a little if you think about it too much. However, the drama and character motivation remain rock solid, thanks to fantastically written dialogue, frequent moments of intense drama and pathos, and, perhaps the spine of the entire LaD franchise, the simple desire to see good people find victory against all odds.

It’s the quality of Infinite Wealth‘s cutscenes, as cinematic, as gripping, and as expertly performed as they always have been, that helps paste over the thinner parts of the narrative, pushing through some obvious water-treading that takes place now and again. As much as this is Ichiban’s story, it is Kazuma’s reckoning, and after years of being able to single-handedly save the day, an aging Dragon of Dojima is left with no choice but to share the burden, looking to his loving friends and compatriots, past and present, to find his fire.

Like a Dragon has always been one of the most charismatic and cinematic series in gaming history and Infinite Wealth is no different. It doesn’t apologize for its deliberate pacing as it weaves relevant and relatable themes of familial bonding, socio-politics, divided loyalties, false faith, and noble sacrifice - both for ourselves and for those we love. Befitting the overall ambition of Infinite Wealth, it’s a decidedly dramatic and emotive tale, capable of evoking smiles, distress, laughter, tears, and air-punching satisfaction in equal measure.

And no, there’s just something in my eye.

(1 of 2) In Honolulu, Ichiban encounters familiar allies

In Honolulu, Ichiban encounters familiar allies (left), and ruthless new enemies (right)

Embarking on this sunny/sinister mission, Ichiban and his growing party of pals cross the breadth and width of Honolulu, exploring one of the most dynamic and interesting maps in Like a Dragon history, a far cry from the typically cubic nature of earlier entries. Of course, while our heroes may be on another continent, random rumbles lurk around every corner, with local lowlifes and various other bad-bros foolishly jumping Ichiban and receiving fist-assisted teeth-ectomies for their trouble.

Honolulu, (as with its Japan counterpart), is atmospheric and inviting. The sun-bleached beaches and orange-tinged twilights conjure up a sensation I don’t think I’ve felt since I took that first spin through Vice City. It’s so exciting to see the LaD cast posted against this new, visually arresting environment. Infinite Wealth is a visually attractive title, and while its canned NPC animations may seem a little stilted to modern eyes, personality wins through via characterful facial animation and enjoyable, amusing chatter.

When its time to knuckle up, (ie. always), Infinite Wealth offers superbly blended combat, combining the wild, down-and-dirty brawling of Kiryu’s adventures with the turn-based encounters of Ichiban’s. Once again, the villains are reimagined by our hero’s overactive brain into a menagerie of weirdos, freaks, and monsters. Then Kasuga and friends really get to work; taking out the trash with an evolving array of attacks, skills, and an ever-faithful can of Toughness Z.

The magic in Infinite Wealth‘s combat comes from its ability to make a turn-based battle feel like a genuinely wild brawl, with fast-moving action and bodies flying through furniture in scenes of delicious and cathartic violence. Each of our eight-plus (including NPC support) characters bring their own unique style to the battlefield, with Chitose’s graceful ballerina strikes juxtaposed with Nanba’s umbrella-based beatdowns. Stepping into turn-based combat for the first time, RGG has slickly blended Kiryu into the mix, and found a snug way to utilize his multiple fighting stances and his penchant for HEAT actions in battle. It works incredibly well, making it feel as if Kiryu-san has always fought this way.

If that’s not enough, then there is also a selection of “jobs” to be earned from the local travel center. Following a fun cinematic, the player can reinvent party members with an occupation that overhauls their entire skillset. Whether a Chef, a Surfer, an Action Star, a Hula Dancer, or a Ninja, bespoke moves and abilities keep the entire party feeling fresh at all times, which prevents repetition from setting in. It makes for a deep, exciting, and infectious combat system - which is a requisite given the number of times the player is required to bust heads.

Oh, it should be noted that, while LaD has definitely become more progressive in its middle-age, it’s still eyebrow-raising to see the male characters afforded jobs such as Action Star, Breakdancer, and Aquanaut, while the female characters get Heiress, Dominatrix, and Housekeeper. Dream Big.

Where so many open-world titles falter, Infinite Wealth excels, understanding that it isn’t enough to just have ‘stuff to do’ - side activities need to be compelling and engaging.

Infinite Wealth is, without question, the biggest and grandest stage that the Like a Dragon franchise has ever played on. A truly massive game, Infinite Wealth offers three huge maps, each of which is absolutely jam-packed with action and adventure. Those versed in open-world titles expect this - it has been the modus operandi ever since Grand Theft Auto hid its first Hidden Package - but it is legitimately staggering how much activity has been packed into both Japan and Hawaii, so much so that Infinite Wealth often feels like a game that contains several entire games within itself.

Preparing for this review, I was dreading how to succinctly describe the wealth of entertainment on offer. I should note that I’m not a believer in “More is More”, and maps utterly smothered in icons are actually a huge turn-off for me. But where so many bloated, open-world titles falter, Infinite Wealth excels, understanding that it isn’t enough to just have “stuff to do”; side activities need to be compelling, exciting, and engaging.

The developer has committed fully to Infinite Wealth’s design, and as such very few of these activities are not instantly arresting in their style and presentation, encouraging the player to explore the wider world on offer and to delve into ventures beyond those of the main campaign.

It’s one thing to tell a player to, say, climb 40 Radio Towers, or to tear down 100 posters, but it’s another to present them with a full text dating service, (complete with simulated “texting” controls), asking them to invest in a giant Roomba business, or tasking them with befriending every dog and cat they meet. Infinite Wealth is stacked with content, but it isn’t “empty” content. It’s all carefully designed with depth and character. In addition, all pursuits rewarding the team in one way or another when they do return to their main quest.

(1 of 2) Boost friendships & bank balances by enjoying activities such as Karaoke,

Boost friendships & bank balances by enjoying activities such as Karaoke, (left), or bagging a job in the death-defying world of food delivery (right)

And what a bounty of activities… Infinite Wealth features arcade games, golfing ranges, recycling plants, batting cages, karaoke, crane games, cabaret clubs, fishing, photography quests, and the aforementioned dating service. There are nicely-designed sub-games, such as a great, Crazy Taxi-esque, delivery service and even Honolulu’s very own social media app, Aloha-Links, that sees Ichiban attempt to increase his follower count by greeting every other user in town. And, for all of your grinding needs, there are multiple procedurally generated towers; all packed with floor after floor of loot, gear, super-tough slugfests.

The True Time Sink awards, however, are reserved for two of Infinite Wealth’s biggest distractions. The first is the returning Sujimon League - a full-on Pokémon clone complete with timed raids, evolutions, trainer battles, tournaments, faux-gacha pulls, and a Sujidex of 150 characters pulled from both Infinite Wealth and the LaD series at large. Palworld who?

The second huge addition is Dondoko Island, an unashamed Animal Crossing-alike which includes a full land editor, along with hundreds of buildings, items, and decorations. Crafting/fishing/hunting mechanics are all on deck, as is a fully customizable cabin for Ichiban. Much like Animal Crossing, the goal is to create a perfect paradise for residents and visitors. Very unlike Animal Crossing, Dondoko Island comes with added baseball bat violence.

Both The Sujimon League and Dondoko Island have been crafted with the same passion and precision as Infinite Wealth’s main campaign, and feel like full games nestled within what is an already generous package.

Dondoko Island, a fully-featured resort sim, may become some players' newest obsession

It is this same passion and precision that, ultimately, leaves Infinite Wealth dripping in entertainment. Almost everything on offer demonstrates nothing less than a complete commitment to player enjoyment. There are little-to-no “half-ass” measures from a design or a technical standpoint. Infinite Wealth, if savored rather than streamlined, offers the dedicated hundreds of hours of gameplay. There’s a large party of characters to max out, (along with their respective jobs and social bonds), as well as three distinct maps to explore, procedural dungeons to conquer, and a volume of sidequests to complete.

To reiterate my earlier statement, More is Not Necessarily More. But rather than pack itself with fluff, Like a Dragon endeavors to engage the player in all of its extra-curricular activity, utilizing the franchise’s iconic characters, infectious charm, and slick personality to evolve the “Map of Icons” trope into an environment brimming with appealing ventures.

This isn’t bloat. This goes beyond “Find 100 for the sake of finding 100”. Infinite Wealth compels with an ocean of pure entertainment. Non-pun fully intended.

Infinite Wealth is a heartfelt tribute to gaming itself, going beyond its status as a great franchise entry to rank as one of the finest open-world adventures ever made.

With Infinite Wealth, Ryu ga Gotoku Studios is paying tribute to many things. It’s paying tribute to the many Like a Dragon titles that have come before. It’s paying tribute to the heroes and the villains, the families and the factions, and the lives lost and saved on the neon-stained streets of Kamurocho. It’s also a tribute to the Like a Dragon community, both the PS2-playin’ oldies and the Kiwami-lovin’ new crew - all of whom have spent years diving into this violent, often surreal world, while absorbing its deep and expansive lore.

But the commitment to total excellence presented in every department - from the aesthetics to the gameplay, from the intricate design to the emotional narrative, from the deep and engaging combat to the litany of side activities - enables this release to become so much more.

Granted, in recent years, gaming has seen stronger stories, more innovative mechanics, flashier graphics, and more memetic sequences saluted on social media. Still, it has been a long time, perhaps years, since I played a title so positively, ruthlessly, dedicated to offering nothing less than pure, undiluted entertainment. To that end, Infinite Wealth is a heartfelt tribute to gaming itself, pushing beyond its status as a great franchise entry to rank as one of the finest open-world adventures ever made.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth absolutely succeeds as a celebration of a beloved franchise’s 20-year odyssey. But, more importantly, Infinite Wealth serves as a tacit tribute to the oft-forgotten joy we find in our friends, our family, our memories, and even in video games. A sublime reminder, lest we forget, that life is fleeting, and that we’re all here - first and foremost - to enjoy it.

This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.

Final Verdict

Rags to Riches

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is a sublimely designed celebration not only of its own storied past, but of the joys of gaming itself. Epic in scale, driven by an emotive story, and overflowing with compelling action and absorbing activities, Infinite Wealth’s bold ambition pays off handsomely, resulting in one of the finest open-world adventures ever made.

Gameplay:

S

Sound:

A+

Graphics:

A

Story:

A

Value Rating:

S
Buy this game now:

Editor

Chris has been playing video games since 1986, back when people saw in black and white. Former editor for Destructoid, their thoughts and reports on the media taste forgot have also been published in outlets such as Eurogamer, Starburst, and Retro Gamer. Joining the Gamer Guides crew in 2023, Chris contributes fair and thoughtful critique on a wide variety of genres.
14 Comments
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Fantastic review. Can't wait to get this later I the year.

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5

I was excited before.

Now I’m dripping with anticipation.

Stellar review buddy. You get it and you show that to us. Goddamn, what a lovely read.

5
6
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Thanks a lot, appreciate your time. You're gonna really enjoy it :)

2
74
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Great review Chris! Amazing Score! Nancy the crawfish FTW :D

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3

Great review!Really nice to see a review mention the history of Yakuza,never knew it is 20 years old now despite me playing multiple Yakuza games now lol. I look forward to giving this game a go in 2026 when I play through the other Yakuza games first lol.

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That’s what I said lol. Like ok 100 hours cool. See you after 1000 hours of Y0 to today.

2
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I really have to play some of these games someday.

3
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5

Amazing review Chris, it must’ve been wild prepping for both this and Tekken 8 together. Great job as always!

For this one, any feelings on NG+ being gated behind the more expensive versions? Is there even a need to play a 100+ hour game TWICE? 😂

5
6
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Thanks for reading, appreciate the support.

1
83
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We've had the game for 2 and a half weeks almost :)

2
13
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5

Our mate Moyse banging out these reviews left and right. Love to see it!

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6
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Chris Moyse is still a review machine!Hope he got plenty of time in advance to finish this game and write up his review!

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2
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6

Wow, a perfect score. Definite buy!

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5
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you won't be disappointed!

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2
User profile pic
6

Wow, a perfect score. Definite buy!

6
5
User profile pic
6

you won't be disappointed!

2
13
User profile pic
5

Amazing review Chris, it must’ve been wild prepping for both this and Tekken 8 together. Great job as always!

For this one, any feelings on NG+ being gated behind the more expensive versions? Is there even a need to play a 100+ hour game TWICE? 😂

5
6
User profile pic
5

Thanks for reading, appreciate the support.

1
83
User profile pic
5

We've had the game for 2 and a half weeks almost :)

2
13
User profile pic
5

Our mate Moyse banging out these reviews left and right. Love to see it!

1
6
User profile pic
5

Chris Moyse is still a review machine!Hope he got plenty of time in advance to finish this game and write up his review!

2
74
User profile pic
5

Great review Chris! Amazing Score! Nancy the crawfish FTW :D

5
4
User profile pic
5

I was excited before.

Now I’m dripping with anticipation.

Stellar review buddy. You get it and you show that to us. Goddamn, what a lovely read.

5
6
User profile pic
5

Thanks a lot, appreciate your time. You're gonna really enjoy it :)

2
2
User profile pic
3

I really have to play some of these games someday.

3
6
User profile pic
3

Great review!Really nice to see a review mention the history of Yakuza,never knew it is 20 years old now despite me playing multiple Yakuza games now lol. I look forward to giving this game a go in 2026 when I play through the other Yakuza games first lol.

3
13
User profile pic
3

That’s what I said lol. Like ok 100 hours cool. See you after 1000 hours of Y0 to today.

2
2
User profile pic
2

Fantastic review. Can't wait to get this later I the year.

2
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