Yakuza: Like a Dragon surprised many fans of the series when it released in the West in 2020, and now it has been given a fresh coat of paint releasing for the PS5. It’s not the biggest update a game has received going from a last-gen console to a current-gen console, but players who put a considerable amount of time into the game on PS4 will definitely notice a difference.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon follows the story of Ichiban Kasuga, an eccentric yet loveable member of the Arakawa family. Infatuated by the video game series Dragon Quest, Kasuga lives his life as if it were an Action RPG while serving as a collector for Tojo Clan. Looking to repay his debt to his family’s leader, Kasuga takes the fall for a fellow clan member and spends the next 18-years in prison. When he is finally released, Kasuga struggles with the realization the world has been moving forward without him, and life as he once knew it is long gone.
With the PS5 upgrade, Yakuza: Like a Dragon lets players get to the action faster than ever. Load times during cutscenes are nonexistent, and loading into new areas or portions of the game only takes a few seconds compared to the lengthy load times of the PS4. This is most noticeable during cutscenes where a black screen use to interrupt stories making players wait for the next bit of information. With these removed, it is much easier for the game to deliver information to the player and makes the entire story a much smoother experience.
From a graphical standpoint, the PS5 upgrade gives the game a light coat of polish. The PS5 version doesn’t make any drastic changes visually, but there is a noticeable difference in the details. Particle effects and the city’s lighting at night are much prettier and more vibrant than the PS4 version, and hair and facial features are more detailed. However, animations and some of the textures still look outdated or wonky. The changes are noticeable, but not big enough to blow anyone away.
The gameplay overall is a little smoother, but again, it’s nothing super noticeable. There’s no hitching, lagging, or dropped frames, but those didn’t cause many issues the first time around on PS4, either. What’s most disappointing is how little Yakuza: Like a Dragon takes advantage of the PS5’s hardware. Specifically, it would have been nice if the game utilized the DualSense controller more. There is a slight change in how the controller rumbles, but even this could have been implemented better. The controller could have constantly rumbled when Kasuga is paralyzed or afraid, triggers could have replaced button presses in combat and used their resistive functionality. Not taking advantage of the hardware feels like a missed opportunity.
Regardless, Yakuza: Like a Dragon is still a fantastic experience, and it’s a game that’s hard not to recommend. Yes, it is technically an RPG, but it never feels like one when playing it. The entire cast is made up of loveable characters, the storyline is both heartfelt and goofy, and it’s almost impossible not to crack a smile while playing. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is pure fun and does a great job capturing the essence of video games. It may not take full advantage of the PS5’s hardware, but it doesn’t need to in order to be a great game – and what few upgrades occur in the leap to current-gen probably make this the best way to experience Yakuza: Like a Dragon all the same.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon is available on PS4, PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. The game will release on PS5 on March 2, 2021. Screen Rant was provided with a PS5 download code for the purposes of this review.