Like a Dragon: Ishin!, known in Japan as Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin! (translates to "Like a Dragon Restoration!") is the second samurai-based Spin-Off of the Like a Dragon series. It was released on February 22, 2014, for both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.
Like its predecessor Kenzan, Ishin takes place in feudal Japan, this time during the 1800s (during the Bakumatsu period, to be exact, between 1853 and 1857) and focusing on the life of Ryoma Sakamoto, another real-life figure in Japan's history. After the murder of both his mentor and father figure, Sakamoto goes undercover to find out the identity of the swordsman who took them down. Under the name Saito Hajime, he infiltrates and joins the Shinsengumi, a police force organized by the government at the time, in order to get to the bottom of his predicament.
The combat expands upon the Hack and Slash-based system of Kenzan, but with several new elements including the addition of more special weapons, including spears and axes, as well as the addition of gunplay with the ability to use a pistol, either on its own or along with your sword to allow for more combo variety. Due to the universe of Yakuza expanding drastically since Kenzan, the open-world gameplay also received an overhaul, with a larger map, more substories and characters, and more of the quirky minigames that the series is now famous for, including fan dancing, chicken racing, and even raising a farm. Also included is the Battle Dungeon mode, which allows you to traverse several halls of enemies with the assistance of Soldier Cards, which give you a boost in a certain stat during combat; playing this mode allows you to gain rare items to craft better weapons and gear.
The PS4 version was a launch title for the system in Japan, making it the first game in the series to release for the eighth generation. As Kenzan launched when the series was still relatively new, Ishin boasts a much larger cast of familiar characters to model its own after, due to the series increasing its cast significantly since then.
Just like Kenzan, Ishin also only came out in Japan, with Western players able to buy an imported copy to experience it for themselves on either platform, due to the PS4 being region-free as well. If you don't speak any Japanese, KHHsubs once again has fans covered, with an in-depth, translated guide for the game, including a full text walkthrough, a downloadable PDF guide, help with weapon forging and substories, a translated video walkthrough in the works, and more. While Sega initially stated they had no plans to export the title, they revealed in August 2019 that localization was under consideration.
On September 2022, during the Sony State of Play, a Kiwami style remake of Ishin was announced. Titled Like A Dragon: Ishin!JP , the game is scheduled to be released worldwide for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Steam on February 2023. It is the first localized game in the series to drop the Yakuza title in favor of its original Japanese title, Like a Dragon.
Like a Dragon: Ishin! provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Susumu Yamazaki in the remake, having his original model, the zombie looking Kugihara, being swapped out in favor of the much more handsomer Joon-gi Han.
- Adaptation Expansion: As shown by the Ambush Trailer, the remake will feature counterparts of characters introduced after the original release, such as Kuze, Joon-Gi Han, and Zhao. There is also the usual new content seen in previous Kiwami remakes, such as new karaoke songs and sub stories.
- Anachronism Stew: Yes, Don Quijote (The real-life Japanese store, not the Spaniard literary character, mind you) exists here in feudal Japan, abeit a fittingly historical adaptation of it that uses hiragana for its storefront logo.
- Somehow, karaoke exists in the Ishin universe, at least a century before it was invented.
- While Mahjong would have existed in China during the time period, the popularity of the game in Japan and the invention of the Riichi ruleset used in the game would only happen around 70 years in the future.
- Bathhouse Blitz: A fight against Saigo Kichinosuke (who's Ryuji Goda's counterpart in the game) takes place in a bathhouse.
- The Cameo: Kenny Omega appears in the remake as a Trooper card, complete with his "Essence of the One-Winged Angel" skill.
- Demoted to Extra: Haruka had a large role in Kenzan, being one of the central figures in its plot. In Ishin, she not only has much less screentime, but doesn't even contribute to the main story. Instead, she's the focus of the entirely optional Another Life sidequest. That being said, doing it will still allow you to build your bond with her and become her parental figure as you'd expect.
- Excited Show Title!: Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin!, similarly to Kenzan before it.
- Full-Frontal Assault: A boss battle between Sakamoto and Saigo Kichinosuke takes place in a bath house, and both characters fight entirely in the nude, with only Censor Steam hiding the naughty bits.
- Jidaigeki: The game is set in 19th-century Japan, during the Bakumatsu period.
- Historical Domain Character: The game has you play as Sakamoto Ryoma (modeled after Yakuza protagonist Kazuma Kiryu), and also features other Japanese historical figures of the time.
- In Medias Res: The opening cutscene depicts Ryoma's real life assassination, which takes place much later in the game, through the eyes of one of the assailants; only breaking from his perspective when it becomes clear that his killer is in fact the "real" Sakamoto Ryoma.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Like its predecessor Kenzan, having the ability to use weapons at will turns the ridiculous durability of enemies during random encounters even further. Even by the series' standards, it's quite baffling to see people survive getting shot at point-blank range multiple times with a pistol, sliced up with a sword, or both.
- Orphaned Series: Possibly. At the moment, the samurai subseries of Yakuza is likely done, as the gap between Ishin and Kenzan was 6 years as it was, and in the time since then, the main series moved away from action to turn-based RPG, with Judgment serving as a continuation of the brawler format. Unless the duo does get localized, it's likely to remain as such. With a remake coming in 2023, however, there is a possibility for the spinoff series to continue.
- Sad Battle Music: While the first two phases of the Final Boss theme start off bombastic... the final phase theme however takes on a very melancholic tone compared to the other two.
- Secret Identity: Sakamoto Ryoma takes on the alias "Saito Hajime" while living undercover.
- Stance System: Just like its predecessor Kenzan, this game has a stance system, this time more diverse than Kenzan, and you unlock more styles as you progress.
- Sword and Gun: This is one of the fighting styles you can use, called Wild Dancer. While fast and able to dish out extreme amounts of damage, that speed and power comes at the expense of being unable to block.
- Variable Mix: The normal battle music subtly changes in instrumentation when Ryoma switches between his four stances.
- Universal-Adaptor Cast: Like Kenzan, many characters in this game are "portrayed" by various characters across the Like a Dragon franchise. The remake extends the roster, incorporating characters from the games released after the original Ishin, from Yakuza 0 onwards.