Like a Dragon: Ishin! Review – Ghost of Yakuza -- Feb 18

With Yakuza (er, Like A Dragon now) having finally gained global popularity in the last few years, this was the best time to bring over Ishin, a period spin-off in the franchise that never quite made it to the west, set during the 19th century, when Japan was undergoing several social, cultural, and political upheavals.

Ishin, though long requested for a global release by series fans, had never quite made it over until now. It made sense – Yakuza was already a niche franchise in the west at the time, barley keeping its head above water. A spin-off of that, and one so uniquely and specifically Japanese? That was never going to fly.

Or so the thinking went. Of course, now that the developers ands publishers have the confidence that there is an appetite for this franchise, this universe, and just Japanese media in general, globally, they are capitalizing on it. Like A Dragon Ishin is a faithful remake of the original game built in Unreal Engine (it is actually the first game in the series, which has used proprietary engines thus far, to use Unreal), and largely brings the experience missed by the rest of the world to modern standards without losing what made it so special to begin with.

That something is largely the setting. Ishin takes place in the tail end of the Samurai age in Japan. More specifically, it is set in in 1867, in what is known as the Bakumatsu era. This was a time when Japan was facing the simultaneous unrests of impending globalization, encroaching imperial powers, rapid industrialization, great social changes as the traditional class and caste systems endemic to Japanese society in its feudal age got called into question by the common people, and an impending change in the government and systems of governance in the country. ...continue reading