Like a Dragon: Ishin! – 15 Details You Need To Know

Sega's acclaimed Ryu ga Gotoku: Ishin! finally comes to the West with remade visuals. Here's everything you need to know before jumping in.

Posted By | On 20th, Jan. 2023

Like a Dragon: Ishin! – 15 Details You Need To Know

As the Yakuza series has become more popular through the years, one title has stood out rather conspicuously. Ryu ga Gotoku: Ishin!, launched in 2014 for the PS3 and PS4, has been exclusive to Japan, garnering acclaim but little chance of releasing to other regions. However, thanks to the success of titles like Ghost of Tsushima, Sega and Ryu ga Gotoku Studio are finally bringing the classic to PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC with Like a Dragon: Ishin!

Releasing on February 21st, this is a remake of the original, developed on Unreal Engine 4 with improved visuals, various changes and new content. Here are 15 things you should know before picking it up.


Like a Dragon: Ishin!’s story centers on Sakamoto Ryoma, a talented swordsman in Japan’s late Edo era. After the murder of his mentor, he travels to Kyoto, joining the Shinsengumi police force as Saito Hajime to find the killer. Since this is the Bakumatsu, social and cultural upheaval is ongoing, and Ryoma’s actions could very well influence history. Within the context of the Like a Dragon series, of course.

Various historical figures emerge throughout the story. However, despite having the appearance of characters like Kazama Kiryu or Goro Majima, there’s no connection between them.


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Set in 1860s Japan, Ishin!’s story plays out in Tosa and the capital city of Kyoto. The latter has several districts to explore, from Fushimi, with its various shops and boats, to more dangerous areas like Mukurogai. The story follows a chapter-based format, so when you’re not engaging in story missions, you’re free to roam the world and partake in various activities. There are limits based on where you’re at in the story, but plenty of worthwhile side content is available.

Weapons and Upgrading

Weapons have always been a core part of Yakuza, but Ishin! leans much heavier into them. Ryoma can fight with his fists and feet but is primarily skilled with a katana. Ranged weapons like revolvers and cannons (because of course there are cannons) are also available. Weapons and equipment have different abilities, which can be added to others with empty slots.

You can also use the Blacksmith to improve the status of a weapon or equipment and temper them to increase their overall stats. Various materials and hammers are required, as well as the right timing when forging them, and there are even Enchanted weapons to discover.

Combat Styles

Like a Dragon Ishin!

Ryu ga Gotoku: Ishin! is considered by many fans to have the best battle system in the series. Like other Yakuza titles, you have four Combat Styles – Brawler, Sword, Pistol, and Wild Dance. Brawler is a bare-handed style with parries and counters that functions like Dragon Style from previous games. Sword is more single-target focused and uses the katana for major damage while also blocking and parrying sword attacks.

Pistol comprises ranged attacks and unleashing effects with special ammo while also disarming enemies. Finally, there’s Wild Dance, which uses the pistol and sword together in an unpredictable fashion, with widespread attacks that are good for fighting several foes at once.


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Each Style has Heat Actions and a Skill Tree. You earn Skills by leveling up, but what’s interesting are the Colored Skills. While they upgrade skills for that Style, they can also replace a regular skill so that it can be used with other Styles, providing an avenue for mixing and matching. As you progress through the game and collect Revelation Documents, new skills and Heat Actions become available to unlock.

Battle Dungeon and Soldier Cards

The Battle Dungeon is Ishin!’s spin on the Clan Creator, and features a dungeon that players traverse, defeating foes and a mini-boss while acquiring items. There are different objectives to complete, and you also receive Soldier Cards that provide unique abilities, from health recovery to Kamehameha-style beams. Soldier Cards have different varieties and types, and can be synthesized to upgrade them.

In Like a Dragon: Ishin!, Cards are usable outside dungeons in regular combat. It looks pretty crazy so far, even if the UI can get a little bloated, and should enhance combat even further.

Dharma Points

As main story missions and Substories are completed, Ryoma accrues Dharma Points. These can unlock new abilities and purchase items. Dharma Points are also earned from various activities. Like previous games, visiting a certain number of restaurants or playing an activity a certain number of times goes towards Completion Points. In Ishin!, they also provide Dharma Points, so it’s worth indulging in the local scenery.

New Clothing and Customization Options

like a dragon ishin

While all the new content hasn’t been outlined yet, Like a Dragon: Ishin! has many changes and improvements. It extends to new clothing and customization options, so maybe some new outfits for Ryoma. While the exact nature of this remains to be seen, we wouldn’t mind some that pay homage to other Yakuza titles.


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In addition to the main story, Substories return, allowing Ryoma to interact with all kinds of characters. While you’ll get different rewards, as with other Yakuza titles, the Substories tell memorable tales ranging from funny and emotional to the downright bizarre (sometimes all at once). You can expect plenty of new and familiar faces to appear, and new Substories are being added to the remake.

Returning Activities

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What would a Yakuza or Like a Dragon game be without karaoke or fishing? Ishin! features a club where you can either sing or support other performers by pressing the right button in tune with the music. Fishing plays a lot like Yakuza 5 with different rods, sea and river fishing, different types of bait, and much more. Chicken racing also returns for those who like to race chickens.

Bakumatsu-Exclusive Activities

Of course, since this is the Bakumatsu, there are plenty of new activities to indulge in. Traditional Japanese dancing, and a…shoot ’em up of sorts? Ryu ga Gotoku Studio hasn’t outlined everything, but there’s cooking, vegetable cutting and more that can be done in…

Another Life

If all that wasn’t enough, Haruka also appears. Owing to a debt of 100 Ryo after her parents pass away, Haruka must pay it back or have her home taken away. Enter Ryoma, who agrees to help and also looks after Haruka. The house acts as a base of sorts, where you can cook food, sleep, plant vegetables to sell or give as gifts, take a bath to restore health, and more. You can even sell food and other items to help pay off Haruka’s debt.

Night Mode

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In addition to traversing Kyoto during the day, Ryoma can also access Night Mode, where more battles and boss fights are available. Certain activities and Substories are presumably only available in Night Mode, but we’ll need to wait for more details. Either way, it’s a way to rack up experience and test your abilities.

4K Ultra HD and Variable Refresh Rate

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Ryu ga Gotoku Studio hasn’t revealed the frame rate and resolution of Ishin! on various platforms. However, according to the Xbox store listing, it supports 4K Ultra HD. This is likely for Xbox Series X/S and PC, though the former could have other enhancements due to the “Optimized for Xbox Series X/S” tag. Variable Refresh Rate and Smart Delivery are also supported.

No English Dub

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Since Yakuza’s underwhelming English dub on PlayStation 2, the series has stuck to Japanese voice-acting with English localization. It has shown signs of changing over the years with Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Judgment and Lost Judgment all having very good English voice-acting. Like a Dragon: Ishin! won’t follow the same trend, due to the style of speaking in the late Edo period.

“For the Ishin remake, we’re using subtitles. We’re not dubbing voice overs. We’re translating the game into English, but the specialized vocabulary and the way people talked during the Bakumatsu era would make the lines incredibly long so it just wouldn’t work. So this time we’re doing subtitles,” it said to the Tojo Dojo.

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