This week’s reveal of Like a Dragon 8 may not have come as a shock to anyone who’s been following developer Ryu ga Gotoku Studio in the years since the last game, but the return of former series protagonist Kiryu certainly was. On stage at the RGG Summit 2022, an event which I was fortunate enough to attend in person, the news broke that the next mainline game will feature dual protagonists in both Kazuma Kiryu and Ichiban Kasuga.
While we also learned of Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, a separate Kiryu-led game aiming to bridge the gap between the sixth and eighth games and explain how he and Kasuga wind up working together, I found myself more curious about how the studio was going to make a shared game work. After all, the shift in tone from Like a Dragon 6 to 7 was a stark one, owing mostly to Kasuga’s… unique point of view.
So when we had the opportunity to sit at a roundtable discussion with Executive Producer, Masayoshi Yokoyama, I took the chance to ask him how the team was approaching the tone of the next mainline game with these two very different characters as leads. The answer, to put it simply, is that Kiryu’s role in Like a Dragon 8 seems to be vital to Kasuga’s story, but not equal to it.
“So for [Like A Dragon] 8, we showed them off as Kiryu and Kasuga, as the double protagonists for it, but really, in the end it’s Ichiban Kasuga’s story. And so we made it in the tone of Kasuga,” Yokoyama-san explained.
“And to make that story, his story needed Kiryu to be in it in order for us to write that. So we included him, and he’s definitely an important character, but because Like a Dragon 8 is Ichiban Kasuga’s story it is his tone and his feelings.”
A short and sharp explanation if there ever was one, and a reiteration that the RPG style of the previous game will continue on to Like a Dragon 8. It’s something that the studio believes in when it comes to this franchise, building the genre or style of game around the story they’re trying to tell, so a commitment to the RPG system is a clear signal that this is indeed a Kasuga game first and foremost.
The inclusion of Kiryu at all, as Yokoyama-san explains in response to a question from another outlet, was deemed necessary to tell the story in Like a Dragon 8 and to fill in the narrative gaps leading into it. And of course, there’s that… hair. So there’s still a ton of mystery surrounding the events of this game, and we’re not likely to know much more until closer to its release in 2024, but if you were left wondering after the reveal if we’d see another change in style and tone after Like a Dragon 7 – it doesn’t seem that way.