Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review

Legendary Japanese franchise segways to Hawaii

By Paul Hunter

Over the past 19 years, SEGA and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio have been iterating on the Yakuza (now Like a Dragon) formula and Infinite Wealth feels like the grand culmination of all that effort. The franchise's magnum opus if you will. Infinite Wealth features a gigantic 50-hour campaign—the first chapter alone took me six hours—featuring hours of cutscenes full of drama, heartfelt, intense action and bucketloads of silliness. It's only January, but I already feel this year will be hard-pressed to release a game filled with this much undiluted fun.

Let's head on into Isezaki Ijincho, Yokohama, to see what this game has to offer: Here are four things I liked about Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth...and one I didn't.

Liked: All-Engrossing Story

From a story perspective, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth has everything a Yakuza fan could ask for and then some. Like the previous game, once again our hero is Kasuga Ichiban, a former Yakuza member who now works a humble job as an employee of Hello Work in Japan's Yokohama. As you might expect, soon enough Ichi's lowkey new lifestyle gets turned on its head as he descends back into Yakuza business, which eventually sends him outside of Japan—a first for this series.

Of course, as we've seen in all the trailers, Ichi boards a plane to Honolulu, Hawaii, where his biggest adventure yet awaits him. In Hawaii, he meets new friends like Eric Tomizawa, a cabbie with a dark past, and Chitose Kujinomiya, the daughter of one of Japan's richest families who's full of secrets and surprises. The rollercoaster of a story also introduces new criminal factions like the Barracudas, Palekana, Yomei Alliance and the Ganzhe which are all filled with interesting and memorable characters.

There's also a huge focus on Yakuza's former lead protagonist Kiryu Kazuma, who if you've played last fall's Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, you might recall also winds up in Hawaii. The story in Infinite Wealth is, I think, the new series' best and that's saying a lot considering how phenomenal the Kiryu saga and 2020's Like a Dragon was. There are so many new and interesting characters you'll get to meet, some you might hate and some you might love, but there's no denying how big of an impression they all make.

Infinite Wealth has hours and hours of cutscenes, where frequently I could put the controller down for ten minutes at a time to watch crazy events unfold on screen, some of which will shock you while others tug hard at the heartstrings. This is a story where you'll laugh, be amazed, get totally absorbed and will likely shed a tear or two over the game's more emotional scenes that are so expertly set up.

The best part is how, in typical Yakuza style, you can never be sure who are your friends, who are your enemies and what is everybody's inner motivations. There are secret alliances, shocking backstabs, two-faced characters and organization, out-of-nowhere white knights and dramatic character developers over the story's chunky 50 hours. I won't get into greater detail but will say this will go down as one of the best stories ever told in gaming. It's supremely engaging and filled with epic moments I won't soon forget.

Liked: Mini-Games Galore

There are mini-games so good in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth that are literally gaming experiences unto themselves. I spent hours playing this silly mini-game called Crazy Delivery that is ripped straight from SEGA's Crazy Taxi franchise, only this time you're Ichiban and have to pedal around Honolulu furiously delivering pizzas and hamburgers to customers that placed orders.

During the tutorial, you're told that the Crazy Delivery company really embraces its "crazy" by asking delivery employees to perform crazy stunts as they pedal down the streets of Hawaii. You can chain together front flips, backflips and side flips to get extra style as you deliver the junk food to hungry customers. But it gets even more ridiculous because you can find Sonic the Hedgehog bounce pads to leap over skyscrapers and achieve an absurd amount of style points. This mini-game alone can easily suck you in for hours, but it's only the tip of the iceberg for this game.

Another mini-game I got completely absorbed in was Sicko Snap, which is basically Like a Dragon meets Pokémon Snap where you have to ride Hawaii's trolley and snap photos of sickos (perverts, basically) that pop out of bushes, windows and basically everywhere. Like Nintendo's game, you're awarded points based on how good the composition of your sicko snaps are, with more points if you zoom in and centre on the nutcases. Again, hours of fun can be had playing this silly game as there are multiple levels on which you can try to gain the coveted S rank.

Infinite Wealth also has an absurdly funny dating game called Miss Match where Ichi registers on a dating app and tries to find romance. The app lets you create your dating profile and search for love interests, and once connected you need to flirt your way to an eventual date. It's all so over the top and hilarious and I had a blast trying to match with all the girls on the app, even if I guessed the eventual date would have a comical swerve.

There are also a ton of returning mini-games that are always fun to play in a Yakuza game, including karaoke, darts, SEGA arcade games, UFO catchers, poker, blackjack, mahjong, shogi and more. Honolulu is just as dense as previous settings like Kamurocho and Isezaki Ijincho, so expect mini-games literally every block begging for you to pause the story and just have a little side fun.

Having fun is so baked into the Infinite Wealth world that there's even an app that encourages you to wave and say hello to random NPCs in the hope of building your friendship meter with them high enough to become pals. Literally every aspect of this experience is gamified: you'll get stat bonuses if you dumpster dive enough or if you search the beach for trash. Every block has glowing bushes containing crafting ingredients for powerful healing items, and virtually every other shop has a glowing briefcase in front you can steal to nab new weapons and recovery items. Whether you're busy busting up some street thugs or taking a break at the batting cage, Infinite Wealth offers non-stop blissful fun.

Liked: The Major Mini-Games

On top of the 15-plus regular mini-games included in Infinite Wealth, there are two major games that you easily lose dozens to. The first is the Sujimon League, which is basically a full Pokémon adventure where you capture and train creatures called Sujimon, then go to battle against other Sujimon trainers. There are 150 Sujimon to collect, each being of a different type ranging from Blaze, Frost and Nature to Light and Shadow. Like in Pokémon, elemental affinities affect damage taken and received, with, for example, Frost being strong against Blaze but weak against Nature.

As you walk around Honolulu you can come across Rivals that you can challenge to gain experience for your Sujimon, while there are also Raids where you'll have a chance to go up against legendary Sujimon for big rewards. Hilariously, the main way you'll acquire new Sujimon is by beating them in battle, and then afterward you can offer them gifts and flatter them with praise hoping to win their loyalty. There are also gumball Gacha machines spread around the city where you can trade in tickets to win random Sujimon.

To progress the Sujimon League story you'll need to challenge gym leaders, known as the Discreet Four consisting of the Jack, Queen, Ace and Joker. Each gym leader has their own personality and base of operation and tends to specialize in specific types of Sujimon similar to how gyms work in Pokémon games. Winning a gym battle rewards you with a badge signifying you're ready to take on the gym leader in the pecking order.

Just like how you spend dozens of hours searching for Pokémon and trying to capture them, and then spending more hours training them, a similar amount of time and fun can be had collecting Sujimon. It's a blast trying to fill out your Sujidex (Pokédex) and collecting the rarest ones, plus I had hours of fun training my Sujimon in battle as I prepared for the next gym challenge. Beyond the gym leaders, you'll eventually gain access to the Sujimon Stadium where you can test your Sujimon trainer skills against an endless survival mode or take on the grand leagues for the toughest battles yet.

The second large-scope mini-game is Dondoko Island, which is Like a Dragon's take on Animal Crossing. The island starts out dilapidated with no citizens, and using Ichiban's bat your first task is to smash garbage away to make room for visitors to come take residence.

On Dondoko Island you can collect bugs, harvest materials, and craft items like tables, fences and decorations to make the resort more attractive for customers and potential residents alike. There's also a rival gang that wants the island as their personal garbage dumping ground, so you'll need to run around your cleared space to bat your rivals off the island.

Dondoko Island has a larger meta game where your goal is to make it a five-star attraction, where you start out as an appalling and hilarious zero-star. As you construct your island and furnish it with attractive goods you can eventually increase your star rating and receive some great rewards for all your hard work.

I've already sunk about ten hours each into the Sujimon League and Dondoko Island and I'm far from done. I can easily see myself tripling that time, which is crazy when you think about it because 30+ hours on mini-games is longer than most AAA game campaigns these days. When I say that Infinite Wealth is packed with content I don't mean that lightly: there's easily 50 hours of fun to be had across all mini-games, if not substantially more.

Liked: Best in Class Presentation

Like a Dragon fans are used to this franchise delivering stellar visuals, motion capture and soundtrack, but Infinite Wealth takes all these elements to the next level. Honolulu is simply gorgeous from its baby blue ocean to its colourful Little Tokyo district to its many bars and shops you can leisurely visit. Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio is the crown jewel in SEGA's portfolio, delivering best-in-class stories and action mixed with industry-leading graphics and cutscenes.

The attention to detail is also second to none. No matter if you're racing around the city delivering pepperoni pizza in Crazy Delivery, or attending the Cabaret club to win over the hearts of the hostesses, no detail has been spared to bring each moment to life.

This same level of quality can be found in the game's turn-based battles, where each of your characters possess flashy skill attacks from punishing cartwheel kicks, to WWE-style body slams to magic-based attacks like chugging a bottle of alcohol and blowing scorching flames. And then there are the Tag Team moves which transition to full-on combat cutscenes as you eviscerate foes with punishing multi-person attacks. Poundmates return and are hilarious as ever, including calling in an ex-Yakuza who wears a diaper and has tantrums or a crab and lobster combo that flies through the air in silly fashion. I'm just so impressed with the style and flair RGG Studio has injected into this game, which goes far beyond expectations.

Didn't Like: A Slow Start

There's so much to love in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth that it's hard to call out any notable faults. But if I had to dig deep, my one minor complaint would be the first chapter which takes place in Yokohama and drags on for hours at a snail's crawl pace. By the time I hit hour five and was still on Chapter 1, I even started to wonder if half the game was going to take place in Japan and whether the marketing had misled me about this being a Hawaii-focused adventure.

By the time you hit Chapter 2, you do, yes, finally visit Hawaii. It takes way too long to get there though and I have to wonder what RGG Studio was thinking having such a prolonged build-up to your eventual trip to America. Once you arrive in Hawaii and the full game opens up the experience becomes, well, infinitely better.

The Verdict

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is the most ambitious game RGG Studio has ever produced both narratively and depth of content-wise. There are easily 100 hours of enjoyment to be had playing this game, and aside from the rather slow intro, it's all blissful fun. When looking back at the last decade of gaming, Like a Dragon may just be the most consistently great franchise over that period.

Final Score: 9.5/10 - Amazing

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth details

Platform: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Publisher: SEGA
Genre: Role-Playing
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)

A key was provided by the publisher.