Like a Dragon: Ishin - 5 things to know about the upcoming Yakuza remake

A long-awaited Japanese-only Yakuza game is finally coming west, in Like a Dragon: Ishin (Image via RGG Studios)
A long-awaited Japanese-only Yakuza game is finally coming West, in Like a Dragon: Ishin (Image via RGG Studios)

Like a Dragon: Ishin was confirmed to receive a full remake during Sony’s State of Play and is coming in early 2023. Originally released on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 on February 22, 2014, Sega will launch the remake globally in February next year. A traditional Yakuza title, while also being its own side story, Ishin is a game that has never officially come to the West.

Another game set earlier in Japanese history was also released, Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan!, but as of this writing, only Like a Dragon: Ishin has been confirmed to be getting a remake. Fans of the franchise will see quite a few returning mechanics, characters, and minigames, but what do fans need to know about the game?

A historical thriller set in a fictional version of Kyoto, here’s what fans can expect when Like a Dragon: Ishin launches on February 21, 2023.


What to know about Like a Dragon: Ishin remake ahead of the 2023 release

1) Like a Dragon: Ishin takes place during the Late Edo Period

A still from the game (Image via PlayStation)
A still from the game (Image via PlayStation)

Set in 1860s Kyo (a fictional version of Kyoto), Like a Dragon: Ishin is, in many ways, a historical fiction game. In particular, it takes place during the Bakumatsu Period. This was the end of the Tokugawa shogunate and the Meiji era's rise. If that sounds familiar to some people, that was the era frequently discussed in the anime Rurouni Kenshin.

Though the anime takes place 11 years into the Meiji, many of the flashbacks and references made are to the Bakumatsu, where Like a Dragon: Ishin takes place. The other feudal Japan Yakuza title, Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan!, took place several hundred years earlier.


Instead of focusing on Ryoma Sakamoto, Kenzan focuses on Miyamoto Musashi as the main protagonist.

2) Many of the most popular Yakuza protagonists return

A still from Like a Dragon: Ishin (Image via PlayStation)
A still from Like a Dragon: Ishin (Image via PlayStation)

One of the great things about Like a Dragon: Ishin is that many of the franchise’s most popular characters return to portray other characters during the Bakumatsu Period. In particular, Goro Majima portrays the 1st Division Captain of the Shinsengumi Okita Souji.


Taiga Saejima appears as the 2nd Division Captain of the Shinsengumi, Nagakura Shinpachi, and Ryuji Goda shows up as Saigo Kichinosuke, an Army commander of the Satsuma domain. With so many familiar voices and characters returning, it will feel like a period drama, acted out by the Yakuza cast.

Several of them will look like their more modern equivalents - so Majima has his eyepatch, Ryuji has his blonde hair, et cetera.

3) Kiryu plays the role of Ryoma Sakamoto and Hajima Saito

A still of the upcoming Sega game (Image via PlayStation)
A still of the upcoming Sega game (Image via PlayStation)

Kiryu portrays the main character, the historical figure Ryoma Sakamoto. He was a key figure in the Bakumatsu Period, making him an excellent focal point for the story. He actively opposed the Tokugawa Shogunate, and so Kiryu will characterize him.


Ryoma will also take on the alias of Hajime Saito, who becomes the captain of the third squad of the Shinsengumi. He takes over the role of captain after Yamanami Keisuke was killed by Hijikata for attempting to abandon the faction.

4) Like a Dragon: Ishin features four awesome combat styles

A still from the game (Image via PlayStation)
A still from the game (Image via PlayStation)

Like a Dragon: Ishin will feel like Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami in one main way - combat! Like in those games, Kiryu, as Ryoma Sakamoto, will have access to four combat styles. Each style has its own Heat Actions, and through “Revelation Documents,” he can unlock further Heat Actions. Here is what each style does:

  • Hand-to-Hand Style: This is similar to the “Dragon of Dojima” style and lets Ryoma pick up objects and batter people. He cannot block weapon strikes in this form, but he can use a parry-and-counter system. Ryoma can use stored weapons in this form too.
  • Sword Style: Traditional katana swordplay is used here, and of course, he can block and dodge other sword wielders. Arguably the hardest-hitting style, it’s slower and focused on one target.
  • Pistol Style: In the ranged attack style, Ryoma wields a powerful gun with rapid-fire capabilities and special bullets that inflict a few different effects. Players can also use this to disarm foes.
  • Wild Dance: Though this style has no defensive options, Ryoma uses his katana and pistol simultaneously. It’s a “dance” style, and it’s quick and great at taking on a group of foes at once.

Each style has its pros and cons, and players can also use a Sphere Grid system to unlock more stat upgrades and abilities. This will likely also feel familiar to fans of Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami.

5) Like a Dragon: Ishin’s minigames include Chicken Racing, Karaoke, and Traditional Japanese Dance

Official release poster for Like a Dragon: Ishin (Image via PlayStation)
Official release poster for Like a Dragon: Ishin (Image via PlayStation)

What would a Yakuza game be like without awesome minigames? Karaoke is back, though, in a more traditional Japanese setting. With backing drums and chanting, at least one song from Ishin was reused in later games - Iji Sakura.

Minigames on offer

  • Chicken Racing
  • Fishing
  • Gambling
  • Karaoke
  • Mahjong
  • Traditional Japanese Dancing
  • Udon Noodle Making

Many of these will feel very familiar to minigames in previous games. Unfortunately, there are no arcade games, as this takes place in late 1800s. Fishing is similar to the Yakuza 5 version, and Gambling features a number of classic games.


Mahjong is the same as it ever was - infuriating, and Udon Noodle Making will also feel familiar with how it worked in Yakuza 5. Traditional Japanese Dance is a rhythm game and features Ryoma dancing.

While this is a serious, traditional action title, it does have the fun minigames that fans love.

Like a Dragon: Ishin is remade from the ground up, similar to Yakuza Kiwami, and will launch on February 21, 2023. The game is built on Unreal Engine 4 and will be available on PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox, and PC. Sega is also scheduled to host a livestream on September 14 at 3 am PT and has revealed that it will showcase a "special surprise" for the fans.

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Edited by R. Elahi
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