Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin! (translates to "Like a Dragon Restoration!"; unofficially known by fans as Yakuza Ishin) is the second samurai-based Spin-Off of the Yakuza 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 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 a localization is under consideration. Whether they follow through with this or if it was just a thought has not been established yet, however, so take the claim as you will.
Ryu Ga Gotoku Ishin! provides examples of the following tropes:
- Anachronism Stew: Yes, Don Quijote exists here in feudal Japan, abeit a fittingly historical adaptation of it that uses hiragana for its storefront logo.
- Bathhouse Blitz: A fight against Saigo Kichinosuke (who's Ryuji Goda's counterpart in the game) takes place in a bathhouse.
- 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 during 1800s 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.
- Reused Character Design: Protagonist Sakamoto Ryoma is clearly modeled after series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, and many other characters' designs are similarly based on existing Yakuza characters.
- 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 乱舞 Ranbu (frequently translated as Wild Dance). 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.