• The Yakuza series features brawling in Japanese settings.
  • Players may be interested in similar games that offer brawling mechanics and turn-based combat.
  • Yakuza spin-offs may interest fans of other genres.

The Yakuza series launched in 2005 to great success in Japan and developed a cult following in the West. Yakuza 0 introduced the series to a more mainstream audience. The games feature semi-open and faithfully recreated Japanese settings in famous Tokyo cities and their seedy underbelly. The first seven games in the series center around Kiryu and are self-contained stories in their own right. The eighth title, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, introduces a new protagonist, Ichiban, with unique motivations and a turn-based combat system.


Hardest Yakuza Games, Ranked

While most of the Yakuza games provide a fair challenge for players to overcome, this isn’t the case for every entry in the beloved action series.

Despite the modern and realistic settings, the games feature brawling mechanics similar to the old-school beat-em-ups combined with traditional JRPG elements with near-random battles and leveling up. While few games replicate the Yakuza series, these games should satisfy fans.

Updated April 13, 2024 by Michael Llewellyn: The Yakuza series was originally an action series in the Kiryu saga and became a fully-fledged turn-based JRPG when Ichiban took over as the series protagonist. The series’s appeal comes from its depiction of Japanese culture and folklore in a modern-day setting or the historically set Like a Dragon: Ishin. This list has been updated to include more games that fans of the Yakuza series may enjoy.

1 Rise Of The Ronin

An Open-World Samurai Adventure WIth Challenging Combat

Countering an enemy in Rise of the Ronin

Rise of the Ronin
March 22, 2024

Action RPG

Rise of the Ronin is an open-world action RPG from the developers of Wo Long and the Nioh series. It is set in 1853 during the final years of the Bakumatsu period in Japan. The setting and swordplay will appeal to fans of the Yakuza prequel, Like a Dragon: Ishin. The combat is challenging with a focus on deflections and landing counter strikes.

Rise of the Ronin is similar to the Assassin’s Creed series, depicting real-life historical characters woven into the fictional story of the Blade Twins’ quest for vengeance. The twins even encounter a character called Ryoma Sakamoto, a real-life Ronin who was the protagonist of Like a Dragon: Ishin.

2 Ghost Of Tsushima

A Stunning Samurai Action Adventure

Jin Sakai riding his horse in the sunset in Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima is a stunning samurai adventure that utilizes incredible swordplay and stealth-based combat. It puts players in the shoes of Jin Sakai as he fights to defend the islands of Kiki and Tsushima against a Mongol invasion. Like Rise of the Ronin, the samurai setting will appeal to fans of Like a Dragon: Ishin with its respect for Japanese culture, lore, and the beautiful setting.

It has an epic story and many characters to interact with as players complete side stories for NPCs and free the islands from Mongolian control. The duels are epic and Ghost of Tsushima arguably handles stealth better than the Assassin’s Creed series.

3 Watch Dogs 2

A High Tech Crime Thriller Set In California

watchdogs 2 gangfight

Watchdogs 2 is an open-world action game set in California. It centers on a hacktivist group, Dedsec as they take on corruption and the gangs that dominate the streets. It plays similarly to a modern-day Assassin’s Creed game with GTA elements.

Moreover, it features a good balance between humor and the tone of a crime thriller, like the Yakuza series. Gameplay elements like hacking into the city’s technology can create hilarious moments of slapstick comedy and destruction.

4 Mafia 2

A Mature Crime Drama Set in The 1940s & 50s

scaletta pointing a gun

Mafia 2: Definitive Edition
May 19, 2020

Hangar 13

Mafia 2 is a 1940s and early 50s mobster game inspired by classic movies like The Godfather and Goodfellas. It was updated and remastered for the PS4 and Xbox One, but it wasn’t as definitive as the remake of Mafia’s first title.

However, despite its clunky mechanics, Mafia 2 features a compelling and mature story of Vito Scaletta’s rise to power in the ranks of the Falcone crime family. Fans of Yakuza’s more dramatic and political mob stories will love the struggles of Vito and his relationships with friends and family.

5 Ghostwire: Tokyo

A Stunning Recreation Of Tokyo

Ghostwire Tokyo - the protagonist Akito petting the dog

Ghostwire: Tokyo is a first-person supernatural action-adventure. It is stylistically different from the Yakuza series. However, those who love exploring a stunning version of Tokyo steeped in culture and lore will find much to love in this title from the creators of The Evil Within. The gameplay and tone are different from Yakuza but equally quirky and unusual.

Originally a PlayStation 5 exclusive, Ghostwire: Tokyo is also available on PC and Xbox Series X/S. The visually striking title takes advantage of the more advanced hardware and helps the neon-drenched city of Tokyo come to life in a way that rivals the Yakuza games.

6 Double Dragon: Neon

Arcade Style Fighting For Fans Of Yakuza’s Combat

The brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee high fiving

  • Released: 2012
  • Platform: PC, PS3, Switch, and Xbox 360
  • Developer: Abstraction Games and WayForward Technologies
  • Genre: Fighting

Before Streets of Rage 4 reinvigorated the side-scrolling beat-em-up genre, Double Dragon: Neon took a shot in 2012. There is an 80s feel and theme to the gameplay, mechanics, and style that fans of Yakuza 0 will love. It is more challenging than Streets of Rage 4 and the recent Double Dragon: Gaiden, the more classically styled update on the arcade classic.

The street battles in Yakuza and the recent Judgment series are reminiscent of classic coin-op beat-em-ups like Double Dragon and Streets of Rage, with their over-the-top fights and special moves. Double Dragon: Neon is a good combination of old and new mechanics with the fighting game formula.

7 Devil May Cry 5

Classic Combat In A Stunning Sequel

Vergil swinging a sword in Devil May Cry 5

The Devil May Cry series has always been renowned for its magnificent combat. The satisfying combos where Dante effortlessly tears through large groups of enemies will resonate with fans of the Yakuza combat system. After the furious fan reaction to the reboot from Ninja Theory, Devil May Cry 5 is a return to form and arguably the best DMC game to date.


Best Crime Action Games That Aren’t Grand Theft Auto

The Grand Theft Auto series is often considered the pinnacle of the urban action-adventure genre, but there are other games that fit that niche.

Thematically, Devil May Cry has little in common with the Yakuza series. However, where the original Yakuza fighting system is like a throwback to classic Japanese 80s and 90s beat-em-ups, DMCV harks back to the hack-and-slash classics like Golden Axe in a single-player format.

8 Streets Of Rage 4

A Classic Side Scrolling Beat-Em Up For Modern Audiences

Streets of Rage 4 - fighting in the streets with Axl

Streets of Rage 4
April 30, 2020
Dotemu , Guard Crush Games , Lizardcube

Beat ‘Em Up

With several hack-n-slash games available, beat-em-up style combat is not utilized enough in modern gaming. Despite being a staple of the Yakuza series for so many years, the developers opted for a turn-based combat system in Like a Dragon. Thankfully, another classic Sega franchise can offer a solid alternative.

The Streets of Rage series returned in 2020 following an incredibly long hiatus. The long wait for a sequel proved worthwhile, as Streets of Rage 4 is one of the best beat-em-ups since the third title. Comparatively, its story is simplistic compared to Yakuza. Moreover, there is little freedom outside combat. However, the fighting system is the perfect throwback for fans of the street brawling in Yakuza.

9 L.A. Noire

A Character-Driven Detective Drama Set In The 1940s

The Driver's Seat From LA Noire

LA Noire
May 17, 2011

Team Bondi

L.A. Noire has more in common with some of the investigative mechanics in the Yakuza spin-off series Judgement. However, fans of Yakuza love deep character stories and crime dramas filled with twists, turns, and betrayals. This late 1940 set drama is an easy recommendation.

Players take on the role of a straight and honest-to-a-fault cop named Cole Phelps as he rises through the ranks as a detective. Fans of beautifully crafted open worlds will love L.A. Noire. The themes and style appear to be inspired by the classic movie L.A. Confidential. Admittedly, there is a lack of activities in the detective drama, but the twists and surprises will keep fans entertained.

10 Persona 5 Royal

An Incredible JRPG Set In Modern-Day Tokyo

A Persona 5 Strikers Joker and friends

Persona 5 Royal
March 31, 2020
Atlus , P-Studio


Persona 5 Royal may have a different vibe from the Yakuza games, but the modern-day setting will appeal to those who enjoy the Yakuza series. The modern-day Tokyo setting will resonate with fans of Kamurocho from the Yakuza games. The protagonists and relatable supporting cast are as endearing to the player as the Yakuza games, with backstories that fans can get behind.

The stylish combat system is turn-based, and those who played Yakuza: Like a Dragon should feel at home. More importantly, Persona 5 has hours of side quests and post-game content to keep fans busy.

11 Final Fantasy 7 Remake

A Sci-Fi Fantasy Classic Remade

Cloud And Sephiroth clash swords

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade
June 10, 2021


Thematically, the Final Fantasy 7 Remake is very different from the Yakuza series. It is a science fiction fantasy set in a cyberpunk-inspired world, as opposed to the streets of Tokyo. It appears to borrow a few elements from the Yakuza series with its take on exploration and accepting side quests from NPCs.

The world of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake lacks the openness of a Yakuza title. However, there is still a lot of freedom to explore and take on side quests. Yakuza fans will love the unusual characters in Midgar. Moreover, it has an excellent real-time battle system that will resonate with fans of the action-based combat before Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

12 Saints Row: The Third

A Humorous Take On The Crime Sim Genre

saints row the third pierce and johnny gat mascot

Saints Row 3
November 15, 2011

Underneath the dark overtones of the Yakuza series, its humorous and wacky world of side quests and characters contrasts it. Fans of the series have come to love the amusing nature of these elements as they help break up the drama without forcing it.

However, fans who want to try something more outrageous and self-aware will not go far wrong with the Saints Row series. Saints Row The Third is often regarded as the best in the series and fully expects gamers to play with their tongue firmly in their cheek the whole time.

13 Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate

Taking Down Gangs In A Victorian London Setting

An Image From Assassin's Creed: Syndicate showing characters brawling

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
October 23, 2015

Released in 2016, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate was the last game in the franchise before the studio went complete open-world RPG in the style of The Witcher 3. It is set in Victorian-era London and is arguably the most stunning recreation of the city in gaming.

The game puts players in the shoes of the brother and sister duo Jacob and Evie as they fight to take London back from the Templar-controlled gangs of London. The themes of gang wars and street fighting are at the focal point of this entry and are perfect for fans of crime sagas who want something a little different.

14 Grand Theft Auto 5

An Open World Crime Game With Three Protagonists

Michael standing next to a car

Grand Theft Auto 5
September 17, 2013

Rockstar North

The Grand Theft Auto series has very little in common with the Yakuza series in its gameplay, but the two franchises draw some comparisons. Both games put the players in the shoes of an anti-hero navigating the criminal underworld and have a ton of side quests and mini-games to explore in their vast and detailed worlds.


4 Exciting Things That Could Be In Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth

Fans can’t wait to bring all the crazy Yakuza antics to a new playground.

In addition, Grand Theft Auto 5 features three protagonists with intertwining stories – a feature used to outstanding effect in Yakuza 4 and Yakuza 5. Similarly, the two series use satirical humor in contrast with the serious overtones of the main story.

15 Binary Domain

A Character-Driven Sci-Fi Adventure From The Yakuza Studio

Binary Domain squad

Binary Domain
February 28, 2012

Third-Person Shooter

There are many overlooked classics from the PS3/360 generation, but few games went under the radar quite as much as Binary Domain. It is very different in tone from the Yakuza series, but as it is from the Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, it is worthy of a mention.

The game offers the same kind of unique storytelling that only the team behind Yakuza can offer. It has excellent character stories and a cast that the player can get behind. There is not much in the way of exploration as it has more in common with the Gears of War series, but the characters and narrative are distinctive to the studio.

16 Mafia 3

A Mature, Character-Driven Crime Drama

The protagonist holding a shotgun next to the car

  • Released: 2016
  • Platform: macOS, PC, PS4, and Xbox One
  • Developer: Hangar 13
  • Genre: Action-adventure

In terms of its world, Mafia 3 would have benefited from being more like the Yakuza series by scaling it down to provide a more focused gameplay experience. However, fans of the Yakuza series will appreciate the attention to detail in the New Orleans-inspired setting.

Yakuza fans, however, will find themselves engrossed with the narrative in Mafia 3 and characters that the audience can get behind. Players who can look past an open world at odds with its pacing will find a mature and character-driven crime drama.

17 The Warriors

A Classic Brawler Based On The Warriors Movie

the warriors gang and rivals

The Warriors
October 17, 2005

Rockstar Toronto , Rockstar Leeds

Action-Adventure , Beat ‘Em Up

Developed by Rockstar, The Warriors is a licensed action game based on the 1979 action film. In terms of scale and activities, The Warriors is smaller than Yakuza, but those who loved brawling with gangs in the streets will find many Yakuza-like elements to enjoy in this title.

Like Yakuza, The combat mechanics in The Warriors pay homage to old-school beat-em-ups like Streets of Rage and Double Dragon. Fans who love frequenting the Club SEGA arcade will be thrilled that The Warriors features an in-game arcade machine called Armies of The Night, which pays tribute to 90s 2D beat-em-ups.

18 Mafia: Definitive Edition

A Stunning Remake Of A Mobster Classic

Mafia Definitive Edition game

Mafia: Definitive Edition
September 25, 2020

Hangar 13

Released in 2020, Mafia: Definitive Edition is a from-the-ground-up remake of the original title launched in 2002 for PC and PS2. It stays true to the classic story, but the visuals have naturally seen a massive update in this remake.

Mafia is set in 1930s America Lost Heaven, Illinois, a fictional city inspired by Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco. For players that want a classic mob-themed storyline with a great cast of characters and the voice acting to back it up, Mafia: The Definitive Edition is a good recommendation for gangster fans.

19 Bully

A High School-Set Adventure With A Focused Open World

Jimmy sitting in class

October 17, 2006

Rockstar Vancouver


Bully is another open-world Rockstar title that can appeal to fans of the Yakuza series. The game is set in a private school, and the experience is more refined and scaled-down than the Grand Theft Auto series. As a result, the game is packed with memorable and relatable characters and more focused gameplay.


Yakuza 0: All Telephone Card Locations in Kamurocho

Yakuza 0 players can use this guide to discover every telephone card location in Kamurocho.

The protagonist deals with gangs and issues with hierarchy not a million miles away from a Yakuza title. The school setting of Bullworth Academy features a compact world that has more in common with Kamurocho than the wide-open spaces seen in a GTA title. The school has several side quests and mini-games to keep players busy in between its main story.

20 Way Of The Samurai 4

A 19th Century Samurai Adventure

Samurai vs Samurai

Way of the Samurai 4
March 21, 2012



If there is another series embroiled in Japanese culture that is not like anything else, it is the action RPG series Way of the Samurai. Way of the Samurai 4 is set in 19th-century Japan, and the players will find themselves in a world that feels distinct and alive.

Like Yakuza,Way of the Samurai features a large cast of weird and wonderful characters, several mini-games, and side quests to complete. Way of the Samurai has a short main story but requires multiple playthroughs. Moreover, every action the player takes in one version of the story impacts the next.


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