Yakuza Like a Dragon collage Kiryu Majima Kasuga
Image via Sega

All Yakuza and Like a Dragon games, in chronological order

A 30+ year saga... at least in-game.

While the Yakuza/Like a Dragon series consists of mostly self-contained stories, allowing you to jump in at any point, it also boasts a rich continuity, and each game is filled with plenty of call backs and references to previous adventures.

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Playing each game in chronological order and seeing how the personal journeys for the likes of Kazuma Kiryu, Goro Majima, and Ichiban Kasuga progress makes for a satisfying experience. If that’s something you want to do as a newcomer, here’s a handy guide for the series’ timeline.

A quick note; this list will omit any games that haven’t seen a Western release, as well as the two Judgment games since, while set in the same universe, their stories are completely unrelated to the Like a Dragon series. Yakuza: Dead Souls and Like a Dragon: Ishin! also won’t be included since they’re non-canon spin-offs.

Yakuza 0

Kiryu fighting Kuze in Yakuza 0
A lot of fans argue this is the best one. Image via SEGA

Though not the first game in the series, this prequel did help popularize Like a Dragon here in the west and makes for a perfect starting point. Set in 1988 during Japan’s bubble economy, Yakuza 0 helps establish the setting of Kamurocho and how the legends of Kiryu and Majima began.

Yakuza Kiwami

Yakuza Kiwami Majima pointing a knife at Kiryu
There’s no playable Majima sadly but he still plays a significant role. Image via Sega

A remake of the very first YakuzaKiwami is set in 2005 after Kiryu spends a 10-year stint in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. It retains the same beat ’em up gameplay as 0, and while you could start here, there are a lot of callbacks to 0 that’ll be lost on you if you skipped it.

Yakuza Kiwami 2

Yakuza Kiwami 2 Kiryu punching a thug
Like 0, Kiwami 2‘s story is split across two cities. Image via Sega

Set in 2006, only one year after the last game, Kiryu’s efforts to live as a civilian are disrupted by a mounting war between his old yakuza clan and a rival faction, the Omi Alliance. Aside from starring one of the series’ most popular villains, Ryuji Goda, this remake also has a nice epilogue (of sorts) to Majima’s story from 0.

Yakuza 3

Yakuza 3 Kiryu kicking thug
So much for Kiryu’s retirement. Image via Sega

Yakuza 3 starts in 2007, in order to establish Kiryu’s new life managing an orphanage in Okinawa, but the majority of the plot takes place in 2009—three whole years after the last game. Playing this one may feel like a step backwards since this is a remaster of the original game from 2009 (Kiwami 2 was 2017), but the action gameplay still holds up.

Yakuza 4

Yakuza 4 main cast Kiryu Akiyama Saejima Tanimura
Each character has their own combat style. Image via Sega

In terms of release date, Yakuza 4 was the first entry to feature multiple playable characters, two of which became series regulars—Shun Akiyama and Taiga Saejima. Kiryu’s still playable, but his role is noticeably smaller than usual as he’s still busy running his orphanage. This one’s set in 2010, just a year after Yakuza 3.

Yakuza 5

Yakuza 5 main cast Kiryu Akiyama Saejima Shinada
Not pictured is the fifth playable character Haruka. Image via Sega

Although the West never saw this game till 2015, Yakuza 5 takes place in 2012, only two years after the last one. Still, a lot has changed for Kiryu and co. in that time, with Kiryu himself forced out of his orphanage and working as a taxi driver. This game has five playable characters, including Kiryu’s adopted daughter Haruka, though her gameplay is centered around rhythm action gameplay since she’s not a fighter.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

Yakuza 6 Kiryu in Kamurochoc
No, this game doesn’t have six playable characters. Image via Sega

Following another stay in prison, Kiryu returns to Kamurocho in 2016 as Yakuza 6‘s sole playable protagonist. This was originally billed as Kiryu’s final adventure and sees him taking care of Haruka’s infant son after she’s put into a coma. If you loved Kiwami 2, you’ll probably love this one too, since they play almost identically.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Yakuza Like a Dragon Kasuga summoning animation
Kasuga himself is appropriately a big RPG fan, particularly of Dragon Quest. Image via Sega

Also known as Yakuza 7, this game marked the beginning of a new era for the series. Aside from introducing a new main character in Ichiban Kasuga, it ditched the real-time action and became a turn-based RPG instead. Kasuga’s own journey technically begins at the turn of the millennium in 2001, but, much like Kiryu in the first game, Kasuaga willingly takes the fall for a murder charge and is put away for nearly 20 years until 2019. You could just as easily start with this game if you want, though certain cameos won’t hit as hard.

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name

A Japanese man holding his jacket while looking at the screen.
Wait, didn’t you leave? Image via Sega

This one also takes place in 2019 during the events of the last game. However, I advise you play this after Yakuza: Like a Dragon since it explains what Kiryu was doing behind the scenes. A return to the original beat ’em up formula, Like a Dragon Gaiden is a far smaller game than its predecessors, but fans of Kiryu will lap it up. It also helps set the stage for the next game.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

Characters in Like a Dragon Infinite Wealth stood together facing the camera.
Kasuga and pals are visiting the US this time. Image via Sega

Picking up four years later, in 2023, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth (aka Yakuza 8) sticks with the RPG formula and sees Kasuga and Kiryu share the spotlight as dual protagonists. While Kasuga journeys to Hawaii in search of his long-lost mother, Kiryu finds himself embroiled in Kasuga’s search while also battling cancer. A big part of his storyline involves reconnecting with various characters he’s befriended throughout the series, which strongly suggests this is well and truly Kiryu’s swansong.

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Michael Beckwith
Staff writer at Dot Esports covering all kinds of gaming news. A graduate in Computer Games Design and Creative Writing from Brunel University who's been writing about games since 2014. Nintendo fan and Sonic the Hedgehog apologist. Knows a worrying amount of Kingdom Hearts lore. Has previously written for Metro, TechRadar, and Game Rant.