Like a Dragon Ishin’s farming minigame deserves a full AAA spin-off

Opinion by Lee Brady,

Like a Dragon Ishin features a full farming minigame called "Another Life" — a feature so addictive and fun that it deserves its own big-budget spin-off.

Anyone who's tried collecting all of the Like a Dragon Ishin trophies is sure to tell you that, besides being one of the best action RPGs on PS5 and PS4, it's also one of the best farming sims on PlayStation. In fact, Like a Dragon Ishin's "Another Life" farming minigame is so good that it deserves its own Yakuza spin-off.

Like a Dragon IshinHaruka, your farm buddy in Like a Dragon Ishin's Another LIfe mode.

Like a Dragon Ishin Another Life gives us a taste of AAA farming perfect

Reflecting upon my Like a Dragon Ishin review, I have absolutely come to regret not talking more about how much I loved Like a Dragon Ishin's "Another Life" farming mode. Sure, the game's punching was good, its story was great, and the frequent side missions often had a lot to offer — still, in spite of its relative simplicity, I just could not quit playing the Another Life minigame.

The term 'minigame' actually does Another Life a bit of a disservice. Much like the robust tower defence minigame featured in Yakuza Kiwami 2, the farming sim mode is really more of a fully-functioning optional spin-off game within Like a Dragon Ishin that, while certainly not worthy of a full price tag in and of itself, does feel like paid DLC that just happens to come with the main game. Players are introduced to farming as if it were any other random side mission — this one just happens to have its own menu, its own upgrades, and the player suddenly finds themselves in 100 ryo debt to their new landlord.
You can absolutely ignore that debt and just complete the game if you like, but you'd be robbing yourself of one of the best modes that differs Like a Dragon Ishin from the other Yakuza games. I found Another Life irresistible, and that's for a number of reasons — chief among them being that it offered a way to make good money in Like a Dragon's tight economy.

Another Life allows you to grow vegetables to fulfil customer orders, some of which ask you to turn those vegetables into full meals via the optional farming minigame's optional cooking minigame (this is just how Yakuza is, people). Doing so nets you cash, and you don't actually have to spend it paying off your bills — you can spend it all buying cool swords and eating ramen on the main street. And it's with this simple, useful monetary hook, as well as a short list of farming-related objectives, Another Life has got you hooked.

Like a Dragon IshinBecome the Daikon master.

Anyone who has collected the Stardew Valley trophies knows it's the best farming simulator around, but its true genius, and we see it here in Another Life as well, is how neither game is about always farming, all of the time. Eventually, after an hour of petting your adopted cats and dogs, cooking meals, fulfilling orders, planting and harvesting vegetables, and praying for farm improvements, you'll awaken from the mundane spell Another Life casts upon you and realise — "oh yeah, I'm supposed to be avenging my dead father figure or something."

So you return to Like a Dragon Ishin core gameplay loop with a wallet full from growing veg, and you return to a life of beating people up, fulfilling side missions, and bumbling around in the open world. The beauty is that doing all of these nets you virtue, which you can use to upgrade your farm's production amount and vegetable growth rate. And so you find yourself in a wonderfully cathartic gameplay loop, in which every action taken on one side of the game symbiotically improves the other side.

Like a Dragon IshinIt's a simple pleasure.

And that's when you come face-to-face with Another Life's one weakness — there's just simply not enough of it. If you dedicate any time to Like a Dragon Ishin's farming minigame at all, checking in now and then between each story mission, you're still likely to complete most of the farming-related objectives before reaching the game's final chapter. Even still, you might choose to keep harvesting better veg for more money — but at that point, it stops being its own game, and starts being a somewhat impractical bank that you have to work a little to draw money out of.

When I look back on the routine Like a Dragon Ishin's farming gives the game's overall structure, I realise that it would have been genuinely a less fun and absorbing game without it. That, and frankly, I could take or leave a lot more of that Yakuza game formula if it meant getting to spend more time on the farm. So I propose this to Yakuza series developers Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio: make a full Like a Dragon: Another Life game.

Like a Dragon IshinYour farm can also add chickens —picture unrelated.

The simple joys of growing and harvesting vegetables in this stunning AAA game have me recoiling at the Pokémon-like aesthetics of the Story of Seasons series, and I now realise I've been spoiled. So, seriously: just make a Yakuza farming game. Expand the farming production mechanics, let us build a little farming community we can do side quests for, and let us beat menacing landlords and warlords to a pulp should they try to wreck our farm — essentially, just do Like a Dragon Ishin again, but put the emphasis on the farm rather than the samurai stuff.

You've already got some ridiculous spin-offs in the works — someday soon we'll be seriously covering a game called Like a Dragon Gaiden The Man Who Erased His Name. I think it's more than reasonable that the Like a Dragon series also expand into other genres more heavily — and at the top of the list, you have to put a Yakuza farming spin-off. Let me know in the comments if you agree with my stance, maybe I can get a petition wrangled together here.
Lee Brady
Written by Lee Brady
Staff Writer Lee keeps one eye on the future (Marvel's Spider-Man 2, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth), one eye on the past (PS Plus Premium, recent Sony news), and his secret third eye on the junk he really likes (Sonic Superstars, Final Fantasy 16). Then he uses his big mouth to blurt out long-winded opinions about video games.
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