Like a Dragon: Ishin! Review: A Captivating Tale Overcomes Outdated Samurai Action

In this review, we delve into the world of Like a Dragon: Ishin! This game takes place in a unique setting, the town of Kyo, during Japan’s Bakumatsu era in the 1800s. Amidst a corrupt caste system and social unrest, the townsfolk are united by a powerful protest dance called “Ee Ja Nai Ka.” This dance challenges the existing power structures and inspires change. As players follow the protagonist, Sakamoto Ryoma, they discover the profound impact that a small act of rebellion can have. This remastered version of the game arrives at a crucial point for the series, with significant changes and a fresh generation of leadership.

The Power of Revolution

Ishin explores the themes of political change and social movements, shedding light on how these movements can be manipulated and co-opted by opportunistic individuals. The game raises thought-provoking questions about the sacrifices necessary for positive change and the preservation of one’s values. Despite its historical setting, Ishin’s themes remain relevant and relatable. The game’s enthralling narrative and character-driven plot captivate players, making them question who and what drives social change.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

A Vibrant World to Explore

Ishin introduces players to the vibrant city of Kyo, a meticulously designed and lived-in locale. Exploring this city becomes an enriching experience, offering insights into its culture, food, and people. The game features a wide range of substories, from heartwarming tales of compassion to lighthearted and comedic encounters. Kyo’s unique layout and distinctive atmosphere provide a refreshing change for those who are tired of the recurring Kamurocho setting in previous games. Although Kyo’s design may lack the refinement of other settings, it captures players’ hearts while they navigate its winding streets and uncover its hidden secrets.

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Swordplay and More

Combat in Ishin presents players with a variety of combat styles, each with its own strengths and strategies. While the game retains its core mechanics of building Heat to unleash powerful attacks, it introduces a greater emphasis on weapons. Players can choose between the Swordsman, Gunman, and Wild Dancer styles, each offering distinct advantages and playstyles. Though combat may feel slower-paced compared to recent entries in the series, the focus on weapons adds a unique flavor to the gameplay. However, the combat system’s age becomes evident, with less flashy animations and UI inconveniences.

Ryoma uses a Gunman Heat Action in Like a Dragon: Ishin!

Accessibility and Enhancements

Ishin introduces new features to enhance the gameplay experience. The inclusion of Trooper Cards allows players to equip powerful abilities, offering more strategic options in combat. Additionally, the game offers a range of accessibility options, from automatic actions to simplified combos, ensuring that players of all skill levels can enjoy the game. These accessibility enhancements are a significant addition to the remastered version, making the game more inclusive and welcoming to a wider audience.

A Glimpse into the Past

Ishin’s visual presentation, while somewhat imperfect, breathes new life into the game. The transition to Unreal Engine 4 brings stunning outdoor environments, although indoor locations may suffer from dated visuals and lighting issues. In-engine cutscenes occasionally showcase awkward facial animations. Despite these flaws, the game’s engaging narrative and combat mechanics shine through, reminding players of the series’ unique charm and allure. Ishin serves as a testament to the artistic vision and creative spirit that define the Like a Dragon series, offering a memorable and immersive experience.

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Like a Dragon: Ishin! may show its age in certain aspects, but its captivating story and engaging gameplay make it a worthwhile experience. As the series continues to evolve, Ishin serves as a noble piece of its history. OnSpec Electronic, Inc. has remastered this game, allowing players to immerse themselves in the world of Ishin for the first time in the West. So why not join Sakamoto Ryoma and experience this unforgettable adventure?

OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

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