Recently, I was able to sample the upcoming remake of Like a Dragon: Ishin! and it was very good.
With the original game released back in 2014 on the PlayStation 4, it might seem strange that this would be “remade” so soon. However, Ishin never received an international release, and this remake looks to address that, not to mention getting a visual update courtesy of the Unreal Engine.
Notably, the game uses Unreal Engine 4.27 and the reasoning behind this was because unlike the other Like a dragon or Yakuza game, Ishin is set in a more natural environment (compared to the neon-infused cities you see in the other games in the series).
This is because Ishin covers the life of famous Japanese historical figure Ryoma Sakamoto, although I should probably back off on that a bit since the game takes a lot of creative license when it comes to actual story.
In it, the game merges two historical figures with Ryoma Sakamoto taking on the identity of Hajime Saitoh of the Shinsengumi when the game shifts to Kyoto. This is because Ishin is set in the Bakumatsu (1853-1867) phase of the late Edo period, so the game goes full jidaigeki as a result.
All this means that the combat is actually quite interesting and allows you to mix swords and guns if you want, as you act as a responsible samurai cleaning up crime on the streets of Kyoto.
It’s not exactly devil may cry or Bayonetta levels of combat complexity, but it’s decently and satisfactorily done.
There’s also a lot of crafting and upgrading of armor and weapons going on, which in turn helps propel you through the game and explore more in each area.
While Ishin isn’t what I would strictly call an open world game, it’s an open area. Each area is large and complex enough for you to wander through and explore. If you have ever played Shenmue play back today, that is Ishin feels more like a modern take on it rather than a samurai theme Grand Theft Auto.
Much like in others Like a dragon game, Ishin has an amazing amount of sheer stupidity tucked away too. Yes, the main story is handled in a serious way, but a lot of the fun in these games is all the side quests and story quests down various alleyways.
From worshiping a lucky cat to finding out who stole some Japanese sweets, there’s plenty of silly stuff to put a smile on your face. Especially since the localization has been handled so well and gets most of the puns right, which is a huge part of Japanese humor.
Which brings me on to the new international popularity of Like a dragon games in general. Personally, I think it’s great that these games are now becoming more available outside of Japan. While I think Ishin is a solid choice for a remake, it’s strange to have such a fresh game in the series get such a treatment.
Ideally, we’ll get the first PlayStation 2 game remade at some point so international fans can finally see where the series started, but for now we’re heading down windy Edo streets looking for lucky cats and beating thugs with swords and guns.
Like a Dragon: Ishin! will be released for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC on February 21.
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