Yesterday was packed full of surprise treats for fans of the Yakuza franchise. Now going by its original Japanese name of Like A Dragon, the beloved series has announced some new game releases, which are heading our way over the next year or two. One of these was the spin-off Like A Dragon: Ishin!, which was confirmed with a February 2023 release date.
The upcoming game will be a global release as a remake of the Japanese original from 2014, which was known in the west as Yakuza: Ishin! and was released for PS3 and PS4. However, the team at RGG Studio had previously not been sure whether or not the game would work well for audiences outside of Japan. In a new interview with Fanbyte, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio head and Like A Dragon lead producer Masayoshi Yokoyama has shed some light on what prompted the team to remake and release Like A Dragon: Ishin! for international audiences.
Apparently, part of the reason behind the decision to bring the game out of the shadows and to the western world was the success of 2020’s Ghost of Tsushima. The sprawling, open-world samurai adventure was met with widespread critical and commercial acclaim, something that clearly struck a chord with the development team behind the Like A Dragon titles. “We saw how well Ghost of Tsushima did, and how it was about this very Japanese setting made by Americans,” explains Yokoyama, “so that gave us confidence Ishin could do well in America too.”
Like A Dragon: Ishin! is set in the fictional city of Kyo in 1867. Based upon the real historical city of Kyoto, it’s an exciting slice of historical Japan that features a number of Yakuza series favourites in different roles. Franchise poster boy Kazuma Kiryu takes on the role of protagonist Sakamoto Ryoma, and a number of additional recognisable faces such as Goro Majima and other Yakuza members also join the ranks of characters. The game itself looks set to be a really enjoyable ride for those who love the mainline series, complete with signature brawling combat and even the ability to summon a tiger mid-fight.
Ghost of Tsushima has been a particularly influential game, it seems. Sucker Punch Productions’ story of lone samurai Jin Sakai has seen great success since its release two years ago. The positive reception it received clearly helped with the studio’s decision to move forward on a remake of Yakuza: Ishin! However, Yokoyama also noted that this wasn’t the sole factor, adding that the timing of the release of Yakuza: Like A Dragon in 2020 also helped to propel the franchise further ahead. That game introduced the series to a wider western audience, giving RGG Studio even more confidence to release the Edo-era spin-off title.
Like A Dragon: Ishin! is set to be released on February 21 next year. It’ll be available on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and PC.