Long considered to be an impossible game to port outside of Japan, Like a Dragon: Ishin has finally arrived on Western shores. A spin-off from the mainline series that’s set in 1860s Kyoto, Ishin has plenty of familiar faces, an original storyline focused on revenge, and combat that blends samurai action with the ability to summon a former AEW champion to give you a boost in battle.
Reviews for the game are now live ahead of its February 18 launch, and as expected, Ishin is full of the melodrama, absurd violence, and weird diversions that developer RGG Studio is known for. While the game has received a substantial upgrade to its visuals when compared to the PS3 original, several aspects of its design are still archaic according to critics, some of whom say it feels dated when compared to later games in the franchise.
“Take the faces, voices, and over-the-top theatrics that have made the Yakuza franchise renowned, and transport all that back to 19th century Japan,” Michael Higham wrote in GameSpot’s Like a Dragon: Ishin review. “Even though the context has changed, swapping the gangs of the modern criminal underworld for political factions in a tumultuous time in history, Ishin is yet another example of what developer RGG Studio does best: melodramatic storytelling.”
Over on GameSpot’s sister site Metacritic, Like a Dragon: Ishin has an average score of 81 from 37 reviews. For more critical analysis, you can read on to see what other critics have to say about Like a Dragon: Ishin.
- Like a Dragon: Ishin
- Platforms: PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
- Developer: RGG Studio
- Release Date: February 18
- Price: $60
GameSpot – 8/10
“The days of asking Sega to bring Ishin to the West are thankfully over. And although this revision uses an older foundation that shows its age, it’s nice to finally have a version of the game that has been tidied up for modern platforms. Like a Dragon: Ishin brings an all-star cast back together for a story that’s bigger than any one character, and it makes for a fine addition to the series’ deep history.” — Michael Higham [Full review]
GamesRadar – 4.5/5
“The long-awaited remake of Like a Dragon: Ishin delivers an exciting and frequently gorgeous new setting to explore, a more rewarding combat system, and some of the best side quests and minigames in the series to date. Don’t let the katanas fool you, this is the Yakuza you know and love at its very best.” — Jordan Gerblick [Full review]
Inverse – 9/10
“Like a Dragon: Ishin absolutely revels in the Yakuza series’ weirdo humor, but that’s only one half of the equation. There’s also a genuinely dramatic samurai story sizzling with tension. Ishin has some of the best storytelling the series has ever seen. The only thing holding it back is a convoluted combat system that takes a while to find its groove.” — Hayes Madsen [Full review]
Game Informer – 8.5/10
“Like a Dragon: Ishin is an awesome spin-off to an already-great series, and one I’m glad finally came to the States. Even if it tripped on the landing, the story kept me gripped, and I hope some of the new combat styles and special moves make their way to other RGG games. I also hope we’ll get the other spin-offs that never made their way over. Time will tell, but for now, it’s nice to be back with my favorite criminals.” — Blake Hester [Full review]
VGC – 4/5
“Like any swordsman learning their craft, Ishin starts unsteady and builds in confidence. Some ideas struggle to earn their place in the overstuffed mix, but with a propulsive tale, told by some of our favorite gaming characters, it’s easy to get swept up in Like A Dragon: Ishin’s samurai cool.” — Matthew Castle [Full review]
Destructoid – 8/10
“While there are some setbacks, it’s fair to say Like a Dragon: Ishin is a good entry in the series, hitting the same highs you’d hope for and filled with just the right balance of heart and laughter that made the series stand out in the first place. Ryoma’s story has finally come west, and it’s well worth experiencing if you’re a fan of Ryu Ga Gotoku’s brawlers.” — Eric Van Allen [Full review]
IGN – 7/10
“While its half-baked gunplay should probably have remained holstered, Like a Dragon: Ishin’s stylish sword fighting and over-the-top Trooper card attacks successfully pair the Yakuza series’ brand of hysterical action with the historical fiction of its 19th century Japan setting. Unfortunately, its step back in time also presents a slight step down in quality for its substories and side activities, which have each been eclipsed in entertainment value by the other Yakuza and Judgment games in the years since Ishin’s original Japanese release, and the blander areas of its low-tech environment can’t quite compete with the flashy charms of Kamurocho when it comes to exploration.” — Tristan Ogilvie [Full review]