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News video games 27 February 2023, 17:11

author: Matthew Sawka

Like a Dragon Ishin Explained - What Is Its Place in the Yakuza Series?

Do you need to know earlier Yakuza games to understand Ishin? When does the game fit in the timeline? How does it relate to earlier parts? Here you will find the answers!

Yakuza fans in the West can finally play Ishin – one of the spin-offs of the Yakuza series. Originally, the game was released in 2014 on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. However, it was available only in Japan, so those who wanted to play it had to import the game and either be fluent in Japanese, or just ignore the story and focus on the gameplay. After 9 years, we got Like a Dragon: Ishin! – a remake of the original Ishin. The next (chronologically not consecutive) part of such a great series as Yakuza may raise some doubts, so we decided to clarify two, most important questions:

Do I need to know earlier Yakuza games to understand story in Ishin?

A new Yakuza game is bound to attract attention of those who have never played any Yakuza game but wanted to try them. This also means that those gamers may wonder whether they need to play the previous installments or can go straight to Ishin.

The good news is that Like a Dragon: Ishin! is a spin-off, meaning that it requires no prior knowledge about the series. Ishin is set in the XIX century Japan – almost 200 years before the events of the main Yakuza games. Here, we follow the story of Sakamoto Ryoma who embarks on a journey to find the assassin who took everything from him and bring the killer to justice.

Yakuza fans will recognize many familiar faces – Ryoma looks just like Kiryu with a different haircut, while characters such as Niibori Matsusuke look exactly like their counterparts (minus the attire, of course). Practically every story-related character, minor or major, is modeled after someone from the Yakuza games. On top of that, those characters have the same voice actors as their originals. This can cause a small confusion to some gamers as characters in Ishin don’t have the same roles as their originals, meaning that newcomers may have an easier time following the story.

Like a Dragon Ishin Explained - What Is Its Place in the Yakuza Series? - picture #1

What’s the best order to play Yakuza?

There is a good chance that Like a Dragon: Ishin! will introduce new fans to the Yakuza series. A series that currently has 8 main games and a few spin-offs. Their naming isn’t helpful, too, as some main Yakuza games have titles that differ slightly from the others, adding to the confusion.

An example? The remakes of Yakuza 1 and Yakuza 2 are called Yakuza Kiwami 1 and Kiwami 2. These are the only games in the series to use the word “Kiwami” in their title. Another confusing thing, which can become even more apparent with the release of Like a Dragon: Ishin!, is the title of the seventh main game – Yakuza: Like a Dragon. It was the first Yakuza game released in West that has Like a Dragon in the title. To make things easier, we have prepared a chronological list of the main games as well as the spin-offs:

  1. Like a Dragon: Ishin!
  2. Yakuza 0
  3. Yakuza Kiwami 1
  4. Yakuza Kiwami 2
  5. Yakuza 3
  6. Yakuza 4
  7. Yakuza 5
  8. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
  9. Yakuza: Like a Dragon
  10. Judgment
  11. Lost Judgment

As you can see, the chronological order isn’t that difficult to define once you learn the nuances related to the games’ titles. It also shows the best entry point to the series – Yakuza 0. Set in 1988, it tells the story of young Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima before both men became yakuza legends. Yakuza 0 has arguably the best story in the series and the game shows how things in Yakuza 1 (or Kiwami 1 since the remake is much easier to get) came to be.

Whether you are a veteran of the Yakuza series or a newcomer – check out Like a Dragon: Ishin! The first group will find familiar elements mixed with those, that aren’t present in any other Yakuza game. The latter will experience Yakuza and, hopefully, get hooked on the series – giving it more well-deserved attention.

Like a Dragon: Ishin

Like a Dragon: Ishin