Substories often feature some of the best and funniest parts of the Like a Dragon games, and Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is no different. From one that crosses over with Judgment to another where players fight a bunch of overweight criminals who call themselves the White Knights, the game is full of memorable side-quests. My favorite substory from Like a Dragon Gaiden — and possibly the entire series — stands out because it takes on something that’s been a hot topic in the tech space for the past year: ChatGPT.
AI has been the biggest buzzword in tech industries for the past year; just earlier this week, Microsoft announced it plans to partner with Inworld AI to create game-writing AI technology. There are plenty of controversial and potentially unethical uses of AI that people are wary of and unpacking. Like a Dragon Gaiden’ uses its signature brand of social satire to lampoon AI from a specific angle: by showing how bad AI is at giving dating advice.
This article contains spoilers for the Looking for Advice substory in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.
Starting in Chapter 2 of Like a Dragon Gaiden, players can come across the Looking for Advice substory through the Akame Network. The mission begins with Kiryu going to a Smile Burger to meet a teenager who needs advice. When Kiryu gets there, it turns out the boy, named Kusano, is looking for advice on how to speak to a girl he likes named Takaishi. He says he no longer needs Kiryu’s help, though, as he’s using an artificial intelligence playfully named ChotDDT.
As Like a Dragon substories usually do, Looking for Advice pushes this premise to its logical extreme. ChotDDT convinces Kusano that he needs to jump off a bridge to impress Takaishi, and he runs out of the Smile Burger to do so before Kiryu can stop him. Kiryu pursues and eventually talks Kusano down by explaining that there will never be a date if he hurts himself. He then asks ChotDDT for advice again, and it tells him to try protecting Takaishi from an assailant to woo her.
Kusano rushes off yet again before Kiryu can stop him, with Kiryu convinced that ChotDDT is just making Kusano a “menace to society.” As you can probably predict, this does not go well, as the violent punk Kusano tries to recruit gets mad at and attacks him. Kiryu steps in and beats up that punk, but even that is not enough to dissuade Kusano, who thinks the only reason Takaishi is talking to him is ChotDDT, as it had given him the words to finally ask her out. After using it to write a message full of cat puns, Takaishi and Kusano agree to meet in person.
Kiryu snoops in on this meetup and finds Kusano spouting terrible lines from ChotDDT at Takaishi, who doesn’t seem to know how to respond. Kiryu steps in and drops a bit of wisdom: “Genuine communication is better than imperfect communication,” he says. “If you’ve got something important to say, don’t go searching for the cleanest, best-edited version. Take a risk for once, speak from your heart.”
Of course, as Like a Dragon stories go, it all ends in a fistfight as ChotDDT urges Kusano to beat up Kiryu — its worst idea yet. Kusano loses, but then he learns that Takaishi’s not being awkward towards him because she doesn’t like him. It actually just turns out Takaishi was also using ChotDDT to come up with responses for their conversation. This revelation causes Kusano to admit his feelings outright without the help of ChotDDT. Takaishi reciprocates, and Kusano vows not to rely on AI as heavily anymore. Kiryu ends the substory wondering if he would’ve used AI to talk to Yumi had the technology been around when he was younger and she was still alive but ultimately determines that he wouldn’t have used it for her.
Looking for Advice is a hilarious substory full of memorable moments. From Kusano’s constant gullibility to the wild things the AI tells him to do to the twist ending, every part of this quest sticks out in my mind, even over a week after I beat the game. It also feels very relevant for the current moment as more and more people use AI for writing purposes, and the ethicality of that is questioned. On top of that, it caps off a nice moment that closes off Kiryu’s romantic arc with Yumi. By balancing satire and a heartfelt message about communication, Looking for Advice nails everything that makes Like a Dragon substories fantastic.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.