Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin! (Like a Dragon: Restoration) is the second spin-off in Sega's Yakuza franchise to revolve around samurai and sword combat in particular. The game depicts the life of historical Japanese figure Ryoma Sakamoto, in the guise of Kazuma Kiryu. Ryoma is on a quest for revenge against a mysterious assassin who murdered his master. Ryoma finds that the assassin makes use of a special sword style employed by the Shisengumi (a Japanese special force organized by the military government). His search takes him to Feudal Kyoto, the homestead of the Shisengumi, where he decides to infiltrate the organization under the alias Hajime Saito, with the intention of uncovering the assassin's identity. Much like the prior historical spin-off Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan!, Ishin's combat is based almost entirely around sword play.
Ishin was a PlayStation 4 launch title in Japan, debuting alongside the console on February 22, 2014. At the time, Sega Producer Sam Mullen stated there were no plans for Ishin to release in the West. However, an English localization for the game was eventually announced on September 13, 2022, as part of the game's remake.
Ryoma Sakamoto/Hajime Saito (voiced by Takaya Kuroda)
The famed Ronin samurai of the Bakumatsu period, who would be a key figure in the restoration of imperial rule in Japan. In Ishin, he is the student of Yoshida Toyo and together with his comrade-in-arms Takechi Hanpeita, they seek to reform the region. When his mentor is killed by a man using the Tennen Rishin-ryū sword style of the Shisengumi, he travels to Kyoto to infiltrate the organization in search for answers.
Takechi Hanpeita (voiced by Katsunori Takahashi)
Leader of the Tosa Loyalist Party, who seeks to restore the emperor to power. Takechi has big plans for Japan, and seeks to recruit his comrade-in-arms Ryoma Sakamoto to his cause. When Ryoma's mentor, Yoshida Toyo, and fellow to-be co-conspirator was murdered, they found themselves at a crossroads. Ryoma would go ahead to avenge his teacher, while Takechi leads the Tosa party in his campaign onward.
The infamous special police force employed by the Tokugawa shogunate in Kyoto to keep order and peace.
1. Kondo Isami, Captain of the Shisenhumi (voiced by Eiichiro Funakoshi)
- Isami was the famed swordsman and commander of the Shisengumi during the Bakumatsu period.
2. Toshizo Hijikata, Vice-Commander of the Shisengumi (voiced by Shido Nakamura II)
Similarly to the prior sword-based spin-off Kenzan!, Ishin employs a combat system around sword fighting. In Ishin, Ryoma can learn several different abilities, heat actions and counters from 4 distinct combat styles.
In this fighting style, Ryoma fights with both a pistol and a sword. This is the fastest of all 4 fighting styles, where the emphasis is on piling up combos through different attack patterns and dodge-cancelling. The circle button offers rotating attacks that can damage several enemies around you as you build up a combo streak. This is at the expense of no blocking, though you are able to learn a parry from one of the 4 Combat Instructors.
This style is reminiscent of Kazuma Kiryu's classic Dragon of Dojima style, though with some slight different melee attacks. You are able to learn a few signature heat actions from old games, plus the series recurring 'Tiger Drop'. The block functions more like a parry, in vein of Tanimura from Yakuza 4, where Ryoma will become invincible for a few seconds after a successful parry.
The prerequisite default style of Ishin, it is balanced between being an offensive as well as defensive style. You can block, dash, and learn counters to fend off enemies. You can also unleash charged up sword attacks through your combos that will deal heavy damage to enemies. It plays very similar to Taiga Saejima from Yakuza 4 and 5.
This style is reliant on long-ranged attacks to fend off a group of enemies, or larger foes that don't stagger easily. With the triangle button you can use special ammunition to destroy tough enemies with ease. Provided you've obtained the necessary ability in the style's grid, you perform rapid firing, which will cause enemies to drop their weapons.
Part way through the story, Ryoma will meet a Shinto priest, alongside a girl called Haruka talking to a debt collector. Her parents who were in debt are dead, and thus the debt falls on Haruka's shoulders. She is told to sell her parents' house, so she can pay it off. She is reluctant to let go of the house that holds precious memories of her parents. Ryoma decides to step in and help her out.
Another Life is one of Ishin's larger side stories, akin to Another Story sections of Yakuza 5. Here you can serve food for Haruka, plant vegetables, and help her peddle off the vegetables at the market, to earn enough Ryo (Meiji period currency) to pay it off. You can increase your friendship gauge with Haruka, while doing these activities, or obtain a pet for the house from the game's various substories.
- The subtitle "Ishin" is translated as "Restoration" referring to the Meiji Restoration period, which are the events this game leads up to.
- Sakamoto Ryōma are actually two people in Ishin, he infiltrates the Shisengumi under the alias "Saito Hajime", the name of the famous captain of the Shisengumi's third unit.