Ryū ga Gotoku (“Like a Dragon” in Japan) was a relatively unknown game series until their latest entry, Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Since then, Western audiences have been seeing these games with increasing interest.
Decades and consoles have passed since its debut. If you’re looking to play these “beat ’em up” JRPGs criminal dramas, we’re here to help.
Every Yakuza Game in Chronological Order
The formula has remained consistent across the eight main Yakuza games, two worldwide-available spin-offs, two remakes, and a Remastered bundle.
The total is 13 Yakuza entries, and here they ranked per international release year and platform:
- Yakuza – 2006 (PS2)
- Yakuza 2 – 2008 (PS2)
- Yakuza 3 – 2010 (PS3)
- Yakuza 4 – 2011 (PS3)
- Yakuza: Dead Souls – 2012 (PS3) – Non-canon spin-off
- Yakuza 5 – 2015 (PS3, PS4)
- Yakuza 0 – 2017 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
- Yakuza Kiwami – 2016 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – Remake
- Yakuza Kiwami 2 – 2018 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – Remake
- Yakuza 6 – 2018 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
- The Yakuza Remastered Collection – 2019 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – Bundle
- Yakuza: Like A Dragon – 2020 (PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PC)
- Lost Judgment – 2021 (PS4, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X/S) – Spin-Off
The chronological order doesn’t follow the release date, though. If you want to follow the story from beginning to end, you’d have to being with Yakuza 0. Then, because Kiwami and Kiwami 2 are remakes of the original games, continue with these two. It would be like so:
- Yakuza 0
- Yakuza Kiwami
- Yakuza Kiwami 2
- Yakuza 3
- Yakuza 4
- Yakuza 5
- Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
- Yakuza: Like A Dragon
- Lost Judgment
Yakuza’s main games are on Xbox Game Pass for PC and console. Some are also available via the PS Plus subscription. In any case, you can play the main saga and its spin-off on either PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series (via retro-compatibility), or PC.
Yakuza – 2005 (main entry)
SEGA published the original title for PlayStation 2 in 2005. It was a SEGA IP, and the publisher still retains the rights to the series.
It was a beat ’em-up action-adventure title with janky combat and quick-time events. Moreover, the game had three interconnected game modes: Event, Adventure, and Battle.
The setting is open-world. You can follow the main mission or wander around for side content. Also, there’re role-playing elements. For example, the character gains experience in combat to unlock fighting skills.
Lastly, the title introduced its main protagonist, Kazuma Kiruy. He is a Yakuza member who spent ten years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. After getting his freedom back, he begins a journey to retrieve stolen money back to a powerful clan.
Yakuza 2 – 2006 (Main Entry)
Yakuza 2 debuted in 2006 for PlayStation 2, although it reached worldwide audiences in 2008. Compared to the last en
The second entry retains similar mechanics as the first title. However, Sega improved the combat engine after fan input for an overall better experience. Also, the game has adult undertones and a love story.
As for the plot, Kiruy is helping his former group, the Tojo Clan, maintain a friendship with the Western criminal gang Omi Alliance. Along the journey, he learns a Korean mafia is working alongside Omi against the Toja Clan.
Yakuza 3 – 2009 (Main Entry)
Yakuza 3 debuted in 2009 for PlayStation 3. The Sega title premiered in North America and Europe in 2010. Compared to previous entries, it features a darker tone and new battle game modes.
Other gameplay changes allow you to play in third-person as well as third-person. Additionally, the game introduces “Revelations,” collectibles to find in the open world to unlock skills.
Story-wise, Kazuma Kiryu is now running the Mornin Glory Orphanage in Okinawa. His former allies threaten to destroy his orphanage, and Kiryu travels to Tokyo’s underworld to face his former masters.
Yakuza 4 – 2011 (Main Entry)
The fourth Yakuza entry premiered in 2009 for PlayStation 3 and in 2011 for PlayStation 3 in the West. Notably, it became the first in the series with various playable characters.
The story puts Kiruy and the other three playable characters amid a war between the Yakuza, the Tojo Clan, and the police. You may swap between them at any time. Some of these characters were present in previous games, but others are new.
Lastly, the gameplay remains similar but adds mini-games. These include fishing, massages, table tennis, and karaoke duets with NPCs. Similarly, there’re some friendship and loyalty mechanics across playable characters and NPCs.
Yakuza 5 – 2012 (Main Entry)
Yakuza 5 debuted in 2012 for PlayStation 3 and in December 2015 for Western audiences. Compared to the previous game, it runs on a new graphics engine.
The title has five settings across Japan, alongside five playable characters. Its plot revolves around a new conflict between the Omi Alliance and the Toja Clan. Kiryu is a taxi driver, but he returns to his old clan to end the long-time struggle.
The gameplay continues the trend but enjoys the evolution of the graphics engine. Notably, the open-world settings became bigger, and the combat became more fluid.
Yakuza: Dead Souls – 2012 (Spin-off)
Dead Souls debuted in 2012 for PlayStation 3. It’s the first worldwide spin-off of the saga, but it’s a non-canon story set after Yakuza 4 -Kiryu and Gojo Majima fighting against a zombie outbreak.
The gameplay is a shoot ’em-up title against zombies. It has a sheer volume of enemies, weapons, and boss monsters. The pacing increases dramatically with bigger and crazier action-set pieces and enemies as the story progresses.
And even within a zombie apocalypse, there’re mini-games similar to other Yakuza titles. Some of these include interacting with adult entertainers.
Yakuza 0 – 2015 (Main Entry)
Yakuza 0 debuted in 2015 for PlayStation 3. It’s currently available on Xbox One, Windows, and PSVita. Also, it’s the first entry in the saga that became popular with Western audiences.
Timeline-wise, Yakuza 0 is a prequel to the entire saga. It tells how Kazuma Kiryu went to jail for a crime he did not commit in 1988. Yet, there’re two playable characters: Kazuma Kiryu and the recurring character Gojo Majima.
The game alternates the two perspectives at various points during the main story. Similarly, each character has four combat styles they can swap during combat. It makes action dynamic, complex, and deeper than before.
Lastly, the game adds a special currency, Completion Point. Doing side quests and mini-games rewards these tokens you can change for additional bonuses on a shrine.
Yakuza Kiwami – 2016 (Remake)
Yakuza Kiwami is a remake of the original Yakuza game. It debuted for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in 2016. Since 2020, it’s available for Windows and Xbox One.
The title label has a new graphical engine, new textures, new character models, and new animations. Moreover, it trades the older combat system for Yakuza 0’s design, as the protagonist has four fighting styles players can switch in combat.
Also, it has a new “Majima Everywhere” gameplay system. It’s about introducing a rival character Gojo Majima frequently to challenge Kiryu to a fight.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life – 2016 (Main Entry)
Yakuza 6 debuted in 2016 for PlayStation 4. It reached worldwide audiences in 2018. Compared to previous titles, it overhauled character and combat animation/mechanics with the Dragon Engine physics engine.
This is the final game featuring Kazuma Kiryu as the main protagonist. After three years in prison, the anti-hero learns his adoptive daughter is comatose. Kiryu decides to travel across Japan to find out what happened to Haruka.
The gameplay is similar to previous Yakuza titles. As usual, it’s an arcade-style beat’em up within an open world and with character progression mechanics.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 – 2017 (Remake)
Yakuza Kiwami 2 debuted in 2017 for PlayStation 4. It’s currently available for Xbox One and Windows PCs as well.
This is a Yakuza 2 remake. It uses the newer Dragon Engine to overhaul the older graphics, systems, and mechanics. It also added new gameplay mechanics and story elements that resolve weak plot points.
Notably, combat is similar to Yakuza 6, although there’re new moves and cinematic “Heat Moves.” Lastly, a story scenario features the recurring rival, Goro Majima, as the playable character.
The Yakuza Remastered Collection – 2019 (Bundle / Remaster)
Sega launched remastered versions of Yakuza 3, Yakuza 4, and Yakuza 5 in 2020. It celebrates the end of Kiryu’s saga with 1080p / 60fps graphics.
Yakuza: Judgement – 2020 (Spin-off)
Judgment debuted in 2020 for PlayStation 4. It’s currently available for Xbox Series, PlayStation 5, and Google Stadia. That said, it’s a canon story, but it doesn’t have many tie-ins with the main storyline.
You play as private detective Takayuki Yagami, investigating a serial murder case in the Kamurocho district. That means the location assets are the same, yet the gameplay and story are very different.
The result is an open-world beat ’em up with a focus on detective work. In particular, there’s an investigation mode. Likewise, players can lockpick, use disguises, and pursue suspects.
The combat system is similar to Yakuza 0. The detective has various combat styles he can swap during battle. Moreover, there’re parkour elements, a Rage mode, skills, and special abilities.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon – 2020 (Main Entry)
Like a Dragon is the latest main entry in the Yakuza franchise. It debuted in 2020 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and Windows.
The title added turned-based combat to the already complex game formula of the franchise. The result is the most successful game in the saga.
Kazuma Kiryu is in retirement, and the new protagonist is Ichiban Kasuga. He’s a former member of the Toja Clan looking for revenge against those that betrayed him. Other characters join his quest: Like a Dragon has a party of characters like a Final Fantasy game.
Similar to previous games, side-quest can yield additional rewards, even karaoke! But the most notable change is combat, on select abilities and attacks for the squad members each turn. Notably, they can use surrounding items like bicycles in combat.