- The Healing Properties Of Sushi
If you are a fan of the classic Yakuza games, then Like A Dragon: Ishin is going to feel right at home. But if this is your first Yakuza title, then you may find yourself struggling a little with certain elements. You may feel like things feel slightly off in a way that you can’t quite put your finger on. You miss attacks when you were sure you were locked on, QTEs seem to be appearing at random. Something just isn’t clicking.
Well, this guide will give you the ins and the outs of how the combat in Like A Dragon: Ishin works. And don’t worry, we’ll also make sure to point you in the direction of some of the juicy stuff, too. If you want to start Ryoma’s journey on the right foot (preferably with some goon’s face under it), this is the guide for you.
Styles Make Fights
Very early in the game, you will acquire four styles, the Brawler style, Swordsman style, Wild Dancer style, and Gunman style. If you wanted, you could just stick to one style and, outside a unique scenario or two, never have to deviate. However, each of these styles are complimentary and, if you play your cards right, you can use them in congress with each other.
Here is the general layout of each style. The Brawler style has an excellent parry and some fantastic moves for fighting groups of enemies. The Swordsman style is perfect for facing off against single opponents and has the best guard. The Wild Dancer style is good at fighting groups and individuals but has a finicky parry. The Gunman style is best for dealing with enemies who are farther away but is predictably poor for fighting foes up-close.
An excellent example is using the Brawler stance to parry the slow and cumbersome hammer wielder’s attacks, then switching to the Swordsman stance to deal heavy damage. This is a great solution for dealing with enemies of that type, as they can be a handful when fought solely in your Swordsman stance.
Or, as another example, knock an enemy down while in the Brawler stance, then use the Giant Swing Heat Action to throw them away, knocking their allies down in the process, get some distance, switch to the Gunman style, and start pumping all your foes full of lead. Ishin rewards experimentation and gives you all the tools to dominate your opponents.
If you are wondering why sometimes you get a certain heat action, and other times you get another, it is because Heat Actions are triggered by different states and positions. If your enemy is face down on the ground, as an example, then you won’t have the same heat action as you would if they were face up. Thankfully, a number of moves give you simple, repeatable ways to induce a certain state.
Don’t be afraid to switch between the different styles in order to set certain Heat Actions up. If you are struggling to get an enemy to the ground, grab them in the Brawler stance, and then switch back to whatever style had the grounded Heat Action you wanted to land.
As an example, in the Brawler form, using the grab move will toss an enemy over your shoulder; placing them on their back and face up. This is always a direct route to a face stomp attack. Standard punch, followed by a heavy punch, on the other hand, will knock them down on their back, face up, with their feet facing you, this opens up the Giant Swing Heat Action, which is one of the best crowd-clearing moves in the game, and THE best crowd-clearing attack at the beginning of it.
How Delay Works
In many modern action games, you can cancel your attack animation into a dodge or a parry. That is why those Devil May Cry games feel so smooth. This is not typically the case in a Yakuza game. Instead, most attacks will force you into a recovery animation. So, carelessly whiffing an attack will lead to you being punished more often than not.
This means that you shouldn’t over-commit when fighting tough opponents. Poke and prod with a few lighter attacks, but only let loose a long combo, or a big attack, when you have them stunned, or you are facing their back. It should be noted, that you can eventually unlock the ability to dodge out of your attacks. It is still somewhat limited, but it will definitely increase how risky your offense can be. So, as you get further into the game, you will find that this system does loosen up a little.
The Grading System
The grading system determines how much experience you gain at the end of a battle. So, you’re really looking to get a better score. There are three criteria: attack, defense, and technique. But, confusingly, you can finish off all your opponents without taking a single hit, all in one giant combo, and receive the lowest possible grade score. So, let us break down how to get the best possible score at the end of battle…
Your attack grade is based on combos. However, it is important to note that it rewards multiple combos. A 60-hit combo that takes out every enemy is impressive, but you will get a far better grade for three 20-hit combos. Needless to say, this is the easiest one to score an A grade in.
Your regular combo attack will hit enemies while they are on the ground. This is a great way to extend your combos.
This grade is determined by parries and evasive dodges. Get six of them, and you will earn an A grade. You heard us right, you can get utterly walloped, get hit a half-dozen times, and you will still get the top grade if you do some combination of evasive dodges and parries six times.
To perform well in the technique category, you simply need to use Heat Actions. That’s it. Two of them gets you a B, three gets you an A. This is the hardest of the bunch to get a perfect grade in early in the game, as you don’t build Heat particularly quickly. However, as you unlock skills that increase how much Heat Meter you build, you will find that you will start scoring higher in this criteria. It is also important to note that duplicate Heat Actions do not count. So, you need to land three different Heat Actions to score the top grade.
A Very Yakuza Lock On
Nearly every action game to release in the last two decades has a lock-on ability. We say “nearly” because the Yakuza series exists. That isn’t to say that there is no lock on ability whatsoever, there is, it is just intentionally far more limited. When locked on to an opponent, you face them, but you will notice that a number of attacks don’t track perfectly. So, if the opponent steps to the side, your sword thrust won’t neccesarily follow them.
You need to be aware of this, as once you start facing off against bosses you will find that they can be quite evasive and are more than happy to punish your whiffed attacks. Part of the intricacy of this system is that you will learn what attacks hit horizontally, making them much harder to side-step. Locking onto an enemy also slows you down dramatically. You can’t run when you are locked on. So, repositioning, and getting space, can be difficult to do.
It is also worth noting that attacks cannot be performed while locked on.
It doesn’t serve you to always lock on to your opponent. Often it is better to have access to your full range of motion. When used correctly, you will be switching between these two states frequently.
Heat Action Abuse
Heat Actions are a staple of the series. These are the powerful, cinematic attacks that you use to bludgeon an opponent when you have at least a single bar of heat meter. All of these attacks require that you be positioned in a certain way. For example, a classic is the foot stomp, which requires that your foe be face-up on the ground, with their head at your feet. Naturally, this means that a number of these Heat Attacks are going to be exceedingly circumstantial.
If you want to bend the game to your will, what you need to do is find the heat actions that are, instead, highly applicable. The Brawler style, as an example, has the unlockable Essence of Mikan Heat Attack that can be performed when the enemy is just standing in front of you. It does require that you have an orange in your inventory, but those are cheap and easy to come by. Another good one is the Wild Style’s Essence of Stature, which gives you a Heat Attack that becomes available whenever your opponent attempts to swing at you with a sword. It is a tiny bit trickier to land, but still easy, and endlessly available (as fools are always going to be swinging on you). Pair these attacks with items that refill your heat meter, and you have a pretty broken way to get through nearly every tough encounter in the game.
Use Your Parries!
At first glance, the sword-less Brawler stance probably doesn’t seem like a great style to lean on in a samurai title. However, while it has a number of uses, one of the very best perks cannot be overstated: its parry is incredible. Not only does this move allow you to punish telegraphed attacks, disrupting them completely (as opposed to the back dodge that can still get you clipped when enemies use moves that hit all around them), but it will also instill fear in other enemies who witness it.
Now, while the Brawler style has the best parry, it isn’t the only one. In fact, most of the stances have a parry in one form or another. The Swordsman stance’s version of this repels your opponents, which doesn’t have the same level of payoff, but on the plus side, if you miss the timing, you will still be blocking, so it is a lot safer. The Wild Style’s parry, on the other hand, is a lot like the Brawler’s, though the timing is far stricter. The benefit of the Brawler’s parry is that as long as you hold block, the timing is generally pretty generous. Though, on that note, you want to start your parry before the attack hits, this isn’t Sekiro where you want to hit the parry button the moment the attack is about to land.
It doesn’t matter if your back is facing your opponent. You can land a parry irrespective of where you are facing.
So, we have already extolled the virtue of the Brawler style’s excellent parry, but another brilliant element is that, at the base level, it has a heat action that very effectively hits multiple enemies. This is a fantastic way to quickly clear out multiple enemies. It is one of the best crowd-control attacks you have early on, but you will pick up others as you progress through the game.
In Ishin you need to pinpoint these moves, as you are going to be fighting a ton of battles against groups of enemies. The Wild Dancer style also features some excellent crowd-control attacks. If you don’t have enough Heat for a Heat Action, you can perform the Wild Dance attack’s Phoenix Blaze, as an example, to push the crowd back. This is a brilliant move for knocking down a bunch of thugs at once.
The Healing Properties Of Sushi
One of the elements of Ishin is how powerful having a fully stocked inventory can be. In the Yakuza games, you can use healing items from the pause menu mid-battle. So, even if you are getting trounced, you can pause the game, eat some sushi, and be back to one hundred percent. That being said, there are some complicating factors.
You can only heal when you are capable of acting. So, if you are mid-attack. This won’t work. More dangerously, if you are being pummeled by your opponent, you can’t just pop the menu open and heal up. You will need to wait until you can act again. Keeping your inventory filled with health-replenishing items can be a real lifesaver.
The Another Life mode is a fantastic way to get cheap healing items that also come with some pretty nice bonus effects. So, when that opens up in the fourth chapter, you may want to consider putting a little time into it.
Next: Best Samurai Games To Play If You Liked Ghost of Tsushima, Ranked By Metascore