With Yakuza 5, Zero, and who knows – possibly 6? – getting localized, I felt like returning to the one “Yakuza” game I plat’d: Ryuu ga Gotoku: Ishin!. Because while the previously listed Yakuzas found a miracle, it is unlikely for now that Ishin! will be localized, just like how Kenzan! wasn’t. So here is the quick jist about this game.
Ishin! is similar to Kenzan! which was the first Yakuza game on PS3; Ishin! is the first on PS4. It takes place in good ol’ samurai days, with Kiryu turning into the famous historical figure Sakamoto Ryouma, as he seeks the assassin of his mentor and ends up involved in political strife, overthrowing governments, and big ol’ conspiracies. Many other characters from past games show up as different versions of themselves, as well. Like other Yakuza games, there is plenty of plot to throw around and it is very dialogue heavy, making this game pretty tough to fully enjoy without learning a solid chunk of Japanese.
But know this: the game rocks. It plays like other Yakuza games where you are free to roam through the city, eat at restaurants, do side-quests, play mini-games, and of course continuously run into stupid punks who obviously have no idea of what a badass
Kiryu Ryouma is despite the trail of torqued bodies behind him.
The YUM of the game as usual is the combat. Ishin! seems to have been the testing ground for some of the mechanics of Zero, as Ryouma is capable of switching between different styles. Ryouma can use his mitts (And other misc. weapons), a single sword, bust out a pistol to cap fools (guns were the new rage in Japan), or dual gun/sword combo. This no doubt served as the basis of the different styles from Zero and works in a very similar manner with Ryouma capable of quickly switching. Despite everyone wielding swords, the combat plays out very much the same as previous titles. Press a mix of buttons to perform combos on dudes and learn more combos by leveling up the style. HEAT moves are also present, allowing you to completely end some guys who probably don’t deserve such harshness. Each style is unique, and most importantly, fun beans. Changing styles on the fly adds extra fun. This spin-off game pulls off cool yet grounded samurai combat better than full samurai titles such as Way of the Samurai, which I dunno is cool on Yakuza or embarrassing for Way. The boss battles are also on par with previous titles, with both characters just being ridiculous gods and men of men against eachother.
There are number of side things to do to further kill your time. Like 5’s “Another Drama”, there is “Another Life”, where you work a farm household with Haruka. You get a cat, grow crops, cook food, and generally have a wholesome time. Karaoke is still around despite the time period, with a few solid folk songs to work the fields to. You can find the songs and lyrics here on this site! The sidequests range from standard to hilarious. There are a bunch of collectibles, as well, including various weapons you can arm yourself with and upgrade. Cannons, spears, and a truckload of swords and guns. Good luck collecting them all! Lastly, there is a series of dungeons to run through full of enemies and tougher-than-usual bosses. You can use “cards” of people you recruit etc to gain new abilities and power-ups. The cards are another feature that echoes into the future. It is similar to Yakuza 6 and the gang war side content.
The TLDR of this game is: if you like other Yakuza games, this one should be no different, except with the refreshing change of setting. However, we may never see it in the west. Maybe it’s the classic “it’s too Japanese” excuse, considering its historical context. Or maybe they just don’t know what to title it because this game has nothing to do with Yakuza!
The only kinda HUH? thing is that despite cutting dudes to ribbons, after the fight they are just chillin’ and submit to you like in the other games; “Ow sorry mister!” after you practically Revengeance‘d them. Then again, considering the stuff you do to dudes even in the modern-day Yakuzas, I guess I’m not surprised about people somehow surviving the shit they do anymore.