Just holy crap. Exactly two months ago, I politely requested that Sega consider localizing the historical Yakuza spin-off games for Western audiences. Today, Sega went and stated that one of them is indeed on the way, and has been recreated for modern hardware to boot.
In 1867, the year of the Meiji restoration and the collapse of the Shogunate, the story of Like a Dragon: Ishin! begins. Even though it’s set in the past and everyone has new names, many of the characters are lifted straight from the present Yakuza games, including the main protagonist Kazuma Kiryu Sakomoto Ryoma, who can be controlled by the player. According to the game’s official description,
Like a Dragon: Ishin is an action-adventure historical thriller set uniquely in 1860s Kyo, a fictionalized version of Kyoto. While other games tell earlier stories in Japanese history, Ishin lets you experience the story of how the iconic samurai era vanished. Our hero, Sakamoto Ryoma, is a true historical figure largely credited with overthrowing the shogunate and taking Japan into a radical reformation.
Like a Dragon: Ishin brings in familiar faces to tell this epic historical tale. Fans will recognize our protagonist as Kazuma Kiryu from earlier entries in the franchise. In Ishin, Kiryu is cast as Sakamoto Ryoma and brings the rest of his crew along too. Goro Majima and other Yakuza celebrities join Ryoma as friends and foes in this fictional world that trades the flashy streets of Tokyo for the chaotic bustle of 1860s Kyo. These new character dynamics are as thrilling as they are unexpected, with a series of mind-blowing twists and turns in a story only RGG studio can tell.
It’s awesome that we’re not only getting the game but a remake of it. Since the original Yakuza game was released in 2014, RGG has rebuilt the entire game on Unreal Engine 4, which is why the cutscenes, in particular, look a lot better than you might expect for a game that is eight years old.