Very early in the game, you will acquire four styles, the Brawler style, Swordsman style, Wild Dancer style, and Gunman style. If you wanted, you could just stick to one style and, outside a unique scenario or two, never have to deviate. However, each of these styles are complimentary and, if you play your cards right, you can use them in congress with each other.
Here is the general layout of each style. The Brawler style has an excellent parry and some fantastic moves for fighting groups of enemies. The Swordsman style is perfect for facing off against single opponents and has the best guard. The Wild Dancer style is good at fighting groups and individuals but has a finicky parry. The Gunman style is best for dealing with enemies who are farther away but is predictably poor for fighting foes up-close.
An excellent example is using the Brawler stance to parry the slow and cumbersome hammer wielder’s attacks, then switching to the Swordsman stance to deal heavy damage. This is a great solution for dealing with enemies of that type, as they can be a handful when fought solely in your Swordsman stance.
Or, as another example, knock an enemy down while in the Brawler stance, then use the Giant Swing Heat Action to throw them away, knocking their allies down in the process, get some distance, switch to the Gunman style, and start pumping all your foes full of lead. Ishin rewards experimentation and gives you all the tools to dominate your opponents.
If you are wondering why sometimes you get a certain heat action, and other times you get another, it is because Heat Actions are triggered by different states and positions. If your enemy is face down on the ground, as an example, then you won’t have the same heat action as you would if they were face up. Thankfully, a number of moves give you simple, repeatable ways to induce a certain state.
Don’t be afraid to switch between the different styles in order to set certain Heat Actions up. If you are struggling to get an enemy to the ground, grab them in the Brawler stance, and then switch back to whatever style had the grounded Heat Action you wanted to land.
As an example, in the Brawler form, using the grab move will toss an enemy over your shoulder; placing them on their back and face up. This is always a direct route to a face stomp attack. Standard punch, followed by a heavy punch, on the other hand, will knock them down on their back, face up, with their feet facing you, this opens up the Giant Swing Heat Action, which is one of the best crowd-clearing moves in the game, and THE best crowd-clearing attack at the beginning of it.
How Delay Works
In many modern action games, you can cancel your attack animation into a dodge or a parry. That is why those Devil May Cry games feel so smooth. This is not typically the case in a Yakuza game. Instead, most attacks will force you into a recovery animation. So, carelessly whiffing an attack will lead to you being punished more often than not.
This means that you shouldn’t over-commit when fighting tough opponents. Poke and prod with a few lighter attacks, but only let loose a long combo, or a big attack, when you have them stunned, or you are facing their back. It should be noted, that you can eventually unlock the ability to dodge out of your attacks. It is still somewhat limited, but it will definitely increase how risky your offense can be. So, as you get further into the game, you will find that this system does loosen up a little.