Yakuza Like A Dragon Impressions — “Come for the story, not for the accessibility.”

Yakuza as a series has received a lot of accolades for its story and gameplay. With Yakuza Like A Dragon being the first game on a next-gen console, the anticipation by fans is huge. Like a Dragon may receive favorable reviews for its story or its turn-based-style combat (which is new in the franchise), unfortunately, accessibility will not. Steve Saylor breaks down his accessibility impressions in the video below. You can read the transcription under the video.

A code for Yakuza Like A Dragon was provided by Sega.

TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Steve Saylor. I’m blind. And if you’re wondering how I’m able to play video games if I’m blind, if you take a look at the video here, and if it’s not there, click the link in the description down below to see exactly what I see when I’m playing video games. So today I’m gonna be taking a look at Yakuza Like A Dragon by Sega. And I’m reviewing this, actually, on the Xbox Series X today. Yes, this is the very first game that I’ve got the, a chance to play on the Xbox Series X. And I’m really excited to be able to kind of talk to you about my general thoughts, plus the accessibility that I was able to find in the game, and then just my general thoughts on what it’s like playing it on the Xbox Series X. So, let’s dive in!

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

So before we jump into my general thoughts, full disclosure, I’ve never played a Yakuza game before. I’ve actually been excited to be able to kind of try it. And it’s a good thing that I’ve never played it because the developers have said that this will be a good jumping-on point if you’ve never played any of the previous titles in the franchise. So I don’t need to know, kind of the Yakuza lore or the story that came before, because it’s, as far as I know, brand new characters, brand new story, and I’m actually really excited to be able to kind of jump in even further.

I was able to get pretty much to the end of Chapter Two and get a pretty decent amount of hours in. I know for a fact that there are gameplay elements that do get unlocked in future chapters. But from, based from what I’ve been able to see so far, I can definitely be able to give my impressions of the accessibility, and I’ll get into that in a sec. Things about I liked about the game, the story’s actually is what’s drawing me in more than the gameplay itself. Yes, there, the gameplay mostly revolves around combat and mini-games.

The combat is, is turn-based, so it’s very much a, an RPG in its purest form, with it, with its turn-based style combat. You can be able to do special attacks. You can be able to do attacks. You can be able to guard. And you can use items to be able to kind of heal yourself or heal your team. There are definitely some interesting elements to it. I, it’s quirky. That’s basically kind of the best way I’ve been able to describe the game. It’s quirky and weird, but it also, like, it takes itself seriously but it doesn’t take itself seriously at the same time. I think when you get into, deep into the story, it, it really, it like, it kind of becomes very much like a, like an Asian film.

Yakuza Like A Dragon combat screen showing four controls and which face buttons to press. The Y button is for skills, the B button is for Guard, A button is for Attack and X button is for Etc.

Yakuza Like A Dragon is set in a fictionalized Japan, so it definitely has a lot of influences in Japanese cinema, its story, and its deep lore, and its drama. Which is great, but then once you get into the gameplay elements, there are definitely some, some stuff in there that is pretty weird and quirky. And that’s kind of where I’ve best been able to sort of describe it. And I’ve heard it also described from other people that it’s very much like Persona meets Yakuza. And based on kind of my knowledge of the Persona series, yeah, that’s pretty accurate.

But there is one thing that I was not prepared for, and I don’t know if this is a, a staple in the Yakuza series, but as a newcomer, there is a lot of cut-scenes and cinematics. I mean, there are in between 10 to maybe 20 minutes of cinematics before you actually jump into any of the gameplay. I think I probably spent the first, like, two, maybe three hours of the actual game, of actual, the game itself, and maybe had about five to ten minutes of actual gameplay. There’s a lot of story, like, like pretty much the whole first chapter, you’re not doing much.

Actually, there were a few times where the screensaver started to kind of kick in on my Xbox, and I just, or there are even times I’d basically just set down the controller cause I’m like, I felt like I was watching a TV series or a movie. So be forewarned that there’s gonna be a lot of cut scenes and a lot of story before you really get into the gameplay itself. If I jump into it a little bit further into the game, I may or may not sort of like do some of the side quests. I’ve heard that there’s some pretty really funny and weird kind of side quests in, in this. But I would probably, like with just the amount of time I have available to play games nowadays, I probably wouldn’t be able to do that.

PLAYING ON THE XBOX SERIES X

Now, as far as also my thoughts on the, like playing Yakuza Like A Dragon on the Xbox Series X, it loads fast. There actually are some loading screens that pop up. You can tell that there’s like some text, and some story lore, and some tips that definitely pop up in those loading screens. But with the Series X, you basically get like maybe one, maybe two seconds before it jumps into the next part of the game. So you can tell that yes, it was designed kind of for multiple different sort of generations of, of consoles.

But for the Series X, Yakuza Like A Dragon runs fast. It’s, the quality is fantastic. So yeah, I would definitely, if you have the option to be able to pick this up on, on the Xbox Series X and you are able to, you were able to pick up a pre-order or you’re watching this video later and you have an Xbox Series X, this is definitely a game that you would want to be able to play it on because it just looks great, it plays great, and it plays extremely fast.

Yakuza Like a Dragon Settings Menu

SETTINGS

As far as accessibility in Yakuza Like A Dragon, there is no accessibility menu. Now, not to say that that is a bad thing. Pretty much, I always say that all options are accessibility, and basically, anything that allows you to customize your play style makes it accessible. So even though there is no accessibility menu, there are some, some things that I would say. You can actually adjust the battle speed from sort of a standard-setting that they have, and then there’s also a, there’s also slow battle speed. So if you need sort of time to kind of be able to decide which buttons to be able to push, then this will basically help you out with that.

You can be able to turn vibration on or off. You can be able to, you can, you can invert the controls. You can even, for, this is great for cognitive disabilities, you can be able to adjust the camera movement speed. So if you find you get motion sick from the camera moving pretty fast, you can be able to adjust that. You can also adjust the, where the camera is positioned. So, like, if you don’t move the camera on the right thumbstick, it will sort of auto-position itself in behind your main character, so that can definitely help out.

SUBTITLES

Now the subtitles, I will say, is kind of a bit all over the place for, for Yakuza Like A Dragon. There are three different types of subtitles, depending on which sort of situation you’re in in the game. If we’re talking about sort of the main cinematics and, and main story kind of being presented, this is traditional subtitles. And you can be able to turn them on or off. You can’t adjust them. You can’t, like, make, add a background, or make the text bigger, or add speaker tags or anything like that.

Yakuza Like a Dragon subtitles showing white text with a black outline around it.

So you basically just get the default size, and there is a black outline around the text to kind of help distinguish it from the background. But if you’re sitting in a typical sort of living room setup where you’re about five to six feet away from the TV, I can definitely see where Yakuza Like A Dragon would be difficult to be able to read the text, depending on sort of which of the environment the text is displayed over top, and also just based on kind of the size alone.

And then there’s a second type of subtitles where you have dialogue displayed, and you can be able to advance basically by pushing the A button. And it does have speaker tags, and you can be able to see the person that’s actually talking when it switches back and forth. But there is a typewriter effect when it’s displaying the text, so know that that can be troublesome for those with cognitive disabilities. So you, you can be able to get past it and speed past it by just hitting A to be able to kind of get the entire text to be able to display, but you have to do that every single time whenever text is coming up on screen in those kind of dialogue situations.

And then I wasn’t able to capture it with my own sort of setup, but it’s, this happens, I have seen it in preview videos, where essentially when you’re with your crew and you have the, a bunch of people with you, there are definitely dialogue conversations that are happening, and they kind of pop up on the left-hand side of the screen, where essentially you get to see the person that’s talking as a picture of them. But unfortunately, in regards to this game, there is no, like, full captions. There is no dialogue happening around you, other than through the main sort of story dialogue.

Yakuza Like A Dragon dialogue subtitles with a speaker tag, small text against a black background with the ability to push a to make the text appear faster and continue dialogue.

BLIND ACCESSIBILITY

For blind players, there’s kind of a mixed bag. I thought that actually with the, the graphics performance of the Series X, there’s a lot of fidelity there for Yakuza Like A Dragon which was really great to see. And with my own setup, I was able to kind of read a majority of the text that was on the screen. But unfortunately, there is still kind of areas where there’s a lot of small text, especially in the menus and in the sort of, there are times when you get to see, like, your character level up, and there’s just a lot of really small text in there. And actually, even some of the subtitle dialogue, when you’re kind of just, when it’s just text dialogue, those are actually also pretty small to read, as well. There is no menu narration. Unfortunately for sightless players, you might need some sighted assistance in order to be able to, in order to be able to play this.

MOTOR DISABILITIES

As far as for motor disabilities, there is no controller remapping, unfortunately, so you won’t be able to adjust kind of that. I will say the controls are pretty simple, but it definitely uses a, a rhythm-based kind of controls for the face buttons. You’re pretty much going to be using that majority of the time, especially when you’re in combat. But unfortunately, there are, in order to be able to kind of utilize, sort of, some of these special abilities that you have, you have to basically rapidly tap certain buttons in order to be able to utilize them. And unfortunately, there is no menu setting to be able to toggle from rapid press to hold, or even to toggle for those kind of moments.

And there are also some mini-games that you’ll find that are happening later on that will require sort of a rhythm-based, like, precise timing type thing for hitting those buttons. So if you are okay with that and you are able to play games like that, then that’s fine. I think probably with the, with the adaptive controller, that can definitely help, but you might need someone to be able to play with you to play with as, with copilot, in order to be able to kind of handle the other, additional sort of controls for this.

CONCLUSION

So as far as accessibility, it’s not great. I wish I could be able to kind of give Yakuza Like A Dragon a great score for accessibility, or a great sort of recommendation for it. But it definitely is lacking in a lot of areas that unfortunately, if you are affected by any of the things that I have mentioned in this so far, I probably would not recommend getting this game.

There unfortunately just not enough settings here to be able to adjust your gameplay style to customize and make it easier or more comfortable for you to be able to play. So I would say probably best to be able to maybe not pick up this one. So that’s it, that is my thoughts on Yakuza Like A Dragon. Like I said, for accessibility, it, I, I would not recommend it. As a game in and of itself, I definitely think it is a great entry to the series. I could definitely see the appeal to it. But unfortunately for a majority of people with disabilities, it may not be the best game for you to be able to play.

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Steve Saylor

Steve Saylor is a Toronto-based podcaster, radio host, Blind Gamer, YouTuber, Twitch Streamer, Graphic Designer, Content Creator and College Professor all while being blind! Starting in 2015, his entertaining YouTube series “Blind Gamer” fuses humour with his passion for playing video games. In just a few short years he is considered a thought leader on accessibility in gaming and an advocate for developers to push video game accessibility forward. Steve is the top Blind Gamer in Canada and has worked with prominent clients in the video game industry.

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