Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is a return to form in a myriad of ways. It brings back the franchise’s longtime protagonist Kazuma Kiryu after his faked demise at the end of Yakuza 6 and Ichiban filling his shoes, and it returns to the beat-em-up combat Yakuza: Like a Dragon replaced with the turn-based action. It also includes a welcome throwback to a bygone part of game releases — the inclusion of demos for upcoming titles.
A demo for Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, the next game in the franchise coming in January 2024, sits right alongside the base game of Gaiden.
The demo, dubbed “Adventure Mode,” gives players their first hands-on experience with Infinite Wealth since the game’s announcement back in September 2022. The only caveat is players must first complete the main story of Gaiden to unlock the demo, though that shouldn’t be too difficult considering the game is on the shorter side for the series. Gaiden’s playtime is estimated somewhere between 10 to 20 hours. Presumably, this is to keep players from spoiling themselves, as Infinite Wealth will continue Kiryu’s story.
While I haven’t rolled credits on Gaiden just yet, meaning I haven’t had the chance to explore Adventure Mode myself, developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio promises it will include unique scenes not seen in the full Infinite Wealth release. But the inclusion of a demo at all on the game itself is something to celebrate.
Game demos still exist in the modern landscape, but they see less fanfare, and most games don’t bother with them at all. Demos used to be events in their own right, even able to bump sales of a game that offers a demo for a hotly anticipated title.
In 1996, Square’s new fighting game Tobal No.1 had the benefit of including a demo disc for Final Fantasy VII that let players experience the entirety of the now iconic opening bombing mission. Even at the time, an added demo disc was seen as a nice bonus, as noted by the January 1997 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly.
Today, Square Enix continues to lead the industry in this area, offering substantial demos for most of the company’s extensive catalog of games. These typically give players hands-on time with a game’s opening section, and Square Enix often makes demo save files transferable to the final game on release.
With Gaiden, RGG gives a more nostalgic take on the demo by bundling it into the base game. It does mean that to play the demo you have to purchase the game, but for a series with as devoted a fanbase as Like a Dragon, this probably isn’t a problem. Most people playing Infinite Wealth will also want to play Gaiden on release, though you shouldn’t expect to save files to transfer since the demo includes content not in the final game.
The ability to dive right into a slice of the next entry in the series is just the cherry on top of the proverbial sundae that is Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.