A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
This is primarily a story about criminals, their motives, and their actions, including murder. But it also contains strong themes and messaging around loyalty and bonds between family and friends, as well as remaining positive and persevering through hardships.
Positive Role Models
The cast primarily consists of criminals. The protagonist is among this group, but he also displays a number of positive traits, including helping those in need, remaining loyal to friends, protecting the defenseless against bullies, and seeking redemption for misdeeds.
Ease of Play
This is a sometimes complex role-playing game packed with systems and mechanics that could be potentially daunting to newcomers.
Violence & Scariness
Action features frequent, violent melee combat, using punches, kicks, and makeshift weapons. Guns and knives also appear, often accompanied by blood and gore. Cutscenes can be especially brutal, depicting characters being shot in the head and cutting off their own fingers.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Women are dressed in suggestive attire, sometimes sexually harassed by male characters. Sex, prostitution, and brothels are referenced. Men pay money to spend time with women in Japanese hostess clubs.
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Frequent use of foul language, including "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," "ass," "bastard," and "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
This is the latest entry in the long-running Yakuza series, which includes a number of sequels and spin-offs.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking, sometimes in excess, is depicted. Characters smoke and vape, and a man injects himself with an experimental drug. There are references to drug dealing in the dialogue.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a role-playing game for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC. Its story unfolds within Japan's criminal underworld, where mobsters regularly discuss and commit illegal acts, including murder. The gameplay's heavily focused on violent melee combat. The frequent exchanges are over-the-top, sometimes including fantastical elements and effects, but are still bloody, bone-crunching affairs carried out with feet, fists, and makeshift melee weapons. Cutscenes include more realistic violence -- often with guns and knives -- with some graphic blood and gore. A portion of the story also takes place in a prison, where a character is brutally beaten. While the protagonist is fully entwined in this criminal world and lifestyle, he also displays a number of positive qualities on his path to making a better life for himself. Characters frequently drink, sometimes excessively, as well as smoke and vape. Some female characters wear revealing outfits, and are occasionally sexually harassed by male characters. There's multiple references to prostitution, as the protagonist was raised in a brothel. Foul language, including "f--k," "s--t," " d--k," "ass," "bastard," and "bitch," is used frequently. The game features a number of systems and mechanics, including turn-based combat, that might be complex for casual players and those new to the genre.
Is It Any Good?
Anyone who's spent some time behind the skyrocketing fists and feet of this series' sharp-dressed anti-heroes will feel right at home in the franchise's latest installment. Yakuza: Like A Dragon, Sega's newest entry in the saga, retains the detailed, urban settings, optional mini-games, colorful characters, dramatic storytelling, and brutal beat-downs of its predecessors. But these familiar elements are nicely balanced by a few fresh, notable features that make for a deeper, more compelling take on the series' formula. Regular protagonist Kazuma Kiryu passes the torch to Ichiban Kasuga, a likable, sometimes clueless character that not only injects the story with some kindness and charm, but also counters the melodrama with some welcome laughs.
This isn't to say Kasuga's softer personalty comes at the cost of the series' signature, brutal combat. On the contrary, encounters are bone-crushingly satisfying, packing more depth, variety, and over-the-top style than ever. Most of this comes courtesy of a new turn-based battle system, a huge departure from the franchise's previous real-time action brawls. The new take adds a ton of nuance and strategy, from managing a four-member party of fighters to carefully selecting their offensive, defensive, special moves, and consumable items. The system also doesn't entirely abandon the immediacy of real-time combat, as characters can still wield makeshift melee weapons and even unleash grenades and other table-turning goodies. While generally a positive for the series, the more methodical fights occasionally display some clunkiness, such as characters getting caught behind environmental objects and targets moving erratically. Like a Dragon also suffers from some slow narrative stretches, especially in its early hours. Still, it does a fantastic job retaining and polishing what's made these games cult-favorites, while also introducing enough fresh tweaks to evolve the series for a new generation of wannabe gangsters.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.