Yakuza’s Turn-Based Brawl Still Feels “Like A Disappointment” After All This Time

Like a Dragon throws punches with its new combat, it doesn't land a knockout blow.

  Story Highlights

  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon’s turn-based system feels less engaging as compared to beat-’em-up brawls.
  • While the new system offers some strategy, it disrupts the flow and loses the thrill of the old combat.
  • Yakuza’s new combat system might leave some fans feeling like they’ve been hit below the belt.

Let’s be real, who didn’t enjoy the old Yakuza brawls? Piecing together combos with Kazuma Kiryu or beatdowns with a baseball bat as Goro Majima felt great. Tossing enemies into phone booths and utilizing the environment (NPC’s bicycles) to take down enemies was chaotically satisfying. But with Yakuza: Like a Dragon (and Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth), RGG Studios threw a curveball – turn-based combat.

Sure, some might say it’s a great evolution. But for me? It felt like a gut punch from Kiryu. The beat-’em-up brawls were more than just button-mashing; they were a core part of the Yakuza experience. Instead of the satisfying flow of combat, we’re stuck in menus, picking skills and attacks. Combat pacing feels like an eternity. Where’s the adrenaline rush of a perfectly timed dodge or a bone-crunching combo?

Come on! Who finds this appealing? | Source: Dunia Games
“Look how they massacred my boy!” | Source: Dunia Games

Trading Fists For Menus In Yakuza Feels Wrong

One of the biggest appeals of Yakuza’s combat was its straightforwardness. You saw goons, you punched them. Simple yet satisfying. This simplicity allowed players to fully immerse themselves in the gritty underworld of Kamurocho, where every alleyway held the promise of a brutal showdown. 

Enter Like a Dragon, and suddenly, things take a sharp turn. Now, battles are a slow, menu-driven affair. Picking skills, targeting enemies, and watching animations play out feels like I’m watching a visual novel. This sluggishness disrupts the flow of combat, turning what used to be a thrilling brawl into a boring chore.

YouTube video

Imagine my frustration, as I get pumped up after a tough boss cutscene, only to have that energy sacked by navigating menus and watching drawn-out attack animations as I keep cursing RGG Studios. It feels like the new system forgets a key element of Yakuza’s combat – the raw, visceral thrill of putting your enemies into ER.

Strategy Is Nice, But Where’s The Thrill Of Yakuza?

Look, I get it. Turn-based combat can offer some strategic depth. But in Like a Dragon, it feels forced. Sure, exploiting enemy weaknesses is cool, but it can’t beat the thrill of landing a perfect punch combo and watching a thug fly off in the distance.
 
Strategy may have its place, but it feels like a foreign concept in the streets of Kamurocho. Yakuza’s essence lies in its raw and unfiltered combat, where every blow is felt and every victory hard-earned.
 
turn based is boring
Good to know that I’m not the only one | Source: Steam
The new system might appeal to some players who crave a more tactical experience, but for those who loved the old-school brawls, it feels like one of those goofy mini-games you find in every Yakuza game. It’s like trading in a Michael Bay movie for a chess match – sure, there’s strategy involved, but where’s the heart-pounding action and emotional payoff?
If you’re still not convinced by my words, Yakuza: Like a Dragon is 80% off on Steam right now so check it out yourself if you have the ability to tolerate turn-based combat.
 

Kiryu’s Return to Real-Time Combat In Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth

With Kiryu returning as another protagonist in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, I was worried about how his legendary brawling style would translate to Infinite Wealth’s turn-based battles. RGG Studios didn’t hesitate to maintain Kiryu’s formidable presence but cleverly integrated his iconic fighting styles and powerful moves into the new system.

YouTube video

Kiryu can unleash a “Dragon’s Resurgence” ability, breaking free from turn-based combat for a glorious real-time beatdown. Although it isn’t available right at the start of the game, its existence successfully honors Kiryu’s legacy. Even his signature Tiger Drop move is present in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth along with his unwavering personality – immune to debuffs and intimidation. This might also be one of the reasons why Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is selling so rapidly.​ This might also be one of the reasons why Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is selling so rapidly.​

Yakuza’s Heart Might Still Be There, But…

Sure, the quirky stories, weird side quests, and over-the-top characters are still present in Like a Dragon and Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. But the combat, the heart and soul of any Yakuza game, feels like it’s lost a step.

The flashy cinematic attacks are a nice touch, a flashy homage to the over-the-top action of the classic beat-’em-up brawls. But they can’t fully recapture the raw intensity of landing a well-timed combo or the satisfaction of tossing an enemy into a pile of trash cans. 

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate RGG Studios trying something new. But for me, Like a Dragon’s turn-based combat feels like a missed opportunity.

Do you think that changing the gameplay from beat em up to turn-based was ultimately a good decision for the future of the series?
by inyakuzagames

Here’s hoping the series can find a way to blend the best of both worlds in the future. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth’s real-time combat for Kiryu proved quite effective. Perhaps in future entries, a hybrid system that uses real-time elements for basic attacks and dodges, while a turn-based strategy can be used for special moves and boss encounters, could be the answer.

One thing’s for sure: Yakuza’s future combat holds the potential to be an exciting evolution, but for now, the jury’s still out on whether turn-based brawls can truly capture the magic of the classic beat-’em-up style.

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Fahad Shabbir is a 3rd-year computer science student with a lifelong passion for gaming. As an opinion writer at eXputer with a deep love for challenging experiences, Fahad brings a unique perspective to the table. His background in various genres and active participation in gaming forums fuel his insightful analysis of the industry's hottest topics. Expect him to dissect the latest releases, unpack hidden depths, and provide a detailed look at the ever-evolving landscape of PC gaming. Get familiar with Fahad's gaming library by checking out his Steam profile.

Covers Opinion Pieces at eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Computer Science.

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