PAX AUS 2023: We played Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name

I got the chance to try Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name later in the day, and I’m glad that I did. While it still retains much of the insanity and variety that the series has been known for so far, it also retains many of the string combat mechanics that have made each of these titles so satisfying to play. While this behind-closed-doors demo prevented onlookers from watching others play, our 15 minutes with this new Like a Dragon iteration gave us promising impressions, to say the least.

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name might bear a long and convoluted name, but it’s definitely hitting the nail on the head, so to speak. It follows fan favourite Kiryu, who is now going by the name of Joryu, in a bid to keep his identity a secret. Set between the traditional Yakuza 6: The Song of Life and turn-0based deviation, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, this entry fills in a gap that seeks to explain how Kiryu became a spy of sorts, to infiltrate the Yakuza.

The demo takes place on a mysterious container freight ship, which is soon revealed to be a hidden casino in the middle of the ocean. It’s also equipped with a fighting arena for good measure. As soon as you land, you’re given the chance to explore, but not before Kiryu is stopped by wandering Yakuza and subsequently questioned for why he’s there. While I believe that answer is none of their business, as I can’t imagine a random passer-by sneaking onto a hidden container ship in a suit and tie, they soon pick a fighter with our protagonist as the combat tutorial begins.

Combat is fun and punchy (pun definitely intended) with responsive controls and smooth animations. While combat has always been fantastic in these games, its focus on ridiculous and overpowered special abilities never gets old, as you fling about hordes of gangsters. While it didn’t take long to put them in their place, we were soon left to explore the ship as we pleased. I went to the combat arena to dove deeper into combat, as we were able to select between a couple of matches against waves of enemies, while my friend playing next to me checked out the casino for some blackjack and poker, and even ended up partaking in some sort of weird live-action dating sim segment.

As I headed on over to test this ridiculous mini-game, my time with Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name had come to an end. But short of an intriguing story, in which this limited amount of time made it too early to gauge, I have no doubt that there’s enough of the franchise present to draw back new and existing fans alike for one wacky ride.

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name launches later this year on the 9th of November on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and Windows PC. Stay tuned for our full review when it drops closer to release.

Matthew Arcari

Matthew Arcari is the games and technology editor at The AU Review. You can find him on Twitter at @sirchunkee, or at the Dagobah System, chilling with Luke and Yoda.