Some new details about Yakuza: Like A Dragon have come out from this week's Famitsu Magazine and we're starting to get a clearer picture of what Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios is doing. This latest entry in the long-running series is definitely doubling down on the RPG stuff because the main city of Ijincho (a fictionalized take on Japan's Chojamachi) is reported to be around 3-4 times of the size of Kamurocho (Yakuza's past setting). That makes my stomach sink a bit.
As one would expect with a larger city, the length of Like A Dragon is also being reported as much longer than previous games. I'm not sure which metric they are comparing it to (certain Yakuza games can be finished in less than 20 hours even if you don't rush), but this newest game will take double the time to finish. I'm starting to remember why I don't play many RPGs anymore.
Regardless of my disdain for bloated length, there is a lot in here that sounds like the exact kind of zaniness that Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios is known for. Like A Dragon's main character, Ichiban Kasuga, is a huge fan of the Dragon Quest series, which also served as an inspiration for the game's shift in genre. In fact, the battle system is actually a figment of Ichiban's imagination. To bystanders on the street, people would be fighting like a traditional Yakuza title.
This game will also make heavy use of its party system. Substories (Yakuza's side-quests) will grant EXP to not only Ichiban but everyone with him. You'll even be able to assign classes to each character, much like a couple of Final Fantasy games. With this, the game world won't have invisible walls or arbitrary blockades, but stronger enemies preventing you from progressing too quickly.
While I'm starting to tune out a bit, I'm still all for Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios doing something new. Yakuza has always borrowed heavily from JRPGs, so there is some precedent for jumping full-on into the genre. I worry that the size will be large for the sake of being large, but we'll just have to be patient and see what the end result is.