Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action-Adventure, Beat-Em-Up, Detective, High School Setting
Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s long-running Yakuza franchise recently released its seventh entry and now even its own 2018 spinoff, Judgment, has received a sequel in the form of Lost Judgment. This game essentially still has a lot of the Yakuza stuff you’d expect from an RGG Studio game, but with a twist. The protagonist is now not a former member of the Yakuza like Kazuma Kiryu, but instead, a former lawyer named Takayuki Yagami who is now private investigator or licensed detective.
Back To School
If you’ve ever played a Yakuza game before, you’d probably know what to expect from the narrative and characters of an RGG Studio game. What’s good about Lost Judgment is that despite being a sequel, you can pretty much just jump right into this game without having played its predecessor. I never played Judgment (you can still check out our review here from KKP’s own Mr. Toffee), but I had no problems whatsoever with Lost Judgment since the beginning of the game gives a decent intro and tutorial for newbies.
Like I previously mentioned, the story in an RGG Studio can be very unconventional and varied in tone, to say the least. The plot in Lost Judgment begins with a very grisly discovery of a murder victim and its supposed connection to an ongoing court case involving a potential suspect who’s already being acquitted for groping a woman on a train. To continue this investigation, protagonist Takayuki Yagami and his team of detectives will have to infiltrate and go undercover at the most unlikely of places…
A high school.
That’s right, players will have to assume the role of the very much adult Takayuki Yagami creepily stalking students and even beating up delinquent high school kids the same way he beats up Yakuza gang members. You’ll spend time at high school clubs and even loitering around the school solving side quests called School Stories. Oh, and trust me, the school setting is a major part of the game, and there’s no avoiding it. It even feels sort of Persona-like, in a way, except you’re now a grown man instead of being a fellow student.
The plot in Lost Judgment mainly touches on heavy and controversial themes such as bullying and suicide amongst the youth in Japan, which is why the school setting is required in the first place. Still, the game’s tone tends to veer from one extreme end of the spectrum to another. Some moments will feel more grounded, while others will feel silly and even corny, like mentoring the dance club or catching a panty thief. It can make for a bit of dissonance if you’re not used to the RRG Studio style.
The biggest issue I have with Lost Judgment is that the game consists of almost 80 to 90 percent of dialogue and cutscenes, with only the remaining 20 to 10 percent featuring the various minigames and actual combat. I know that’s the RGG Studio style but it’s a slog to go through hours of dialogue and cutscenes at a time just for a few minutes of combat to break the monotony. A lot of the actual detective work also feels more tedious than anything and only serves the pad out the game even further by throwing a bunch of new gadgets and mechanics every now and then.
Everybody Is Kung Fu Fighting
The highlight of the game is definitely the combat. After hours of dialogue and tedious detective work, you’ll get rewarded with fights here and there. It’s great then, that the combat sections are worth looking forward to and awesome to actually play. Protagonist Takayuki Yagami has access to three combat stances which can be switched at any time during combat, including the Crane Stance, the Tiger Stance and the new Snake Stance.
Each combat stance has its own advantages and quirks. The Crane Stance utilizes wide AoE kicks for crowd control, while the Tiger Stance is great for dishing out damage via a flurry of punches. I personally like the Snake Stance, especially against stronger single enemies or bosses. Even though the Snake Stance is arguably the slowest in terms of speed, it’s great for playing defensively like grappling attacks and even disarming enemies of their weapons.
The more creative you are in fights, the more SP (the game’s version of experience points) is rewarded, which gives the player incentive to keep switching up combat stances during battles. You’ll need a lot of SP for the game’s expansive skill tree. There’s a separate skill tree for each combat stance, as well as separate ones for stat increases (health, damage, etc.) and miscellaneous stuff like increasing your alcohol tolerance (yes, really) and more.
You’ll never get tired of combat segments, especially owing to how stylish they look and how great it feels to execute attacks. Plus, it never gets old to see the special EX finishing moves. What does get old are the boring tailing missions (thankfully, there aren’t many of these), the forced stealth sections and the detective work sections utilizing the various gadgets you’ll have at your disposal. Going into observation mode gets old just to scan stuff around you is not fun, and you’ll have to do this A LOT.
Oh, and as always, there’s a truckload of minigames here. I’m not kidding, there are actually full games inside Lost Judgment that you can even play at arcades and even on a virtual SEGA Master system. These include classic and retro SEGA games like 1987’s motorcycle game Super Hang-On, 1995’s fighting game Fighting Vipers, 1996’s Sonic The Fighters and more. Not to mention all the other minigames like golf, dancing, dart games, Shogi, Mahjong, and more. You could literally spend hours just playing the minigames if that’s your cup of tea.
Visually, Lost Judgment looks incredible on the PS5. Details look crisp and clean, and it retains a smooth framerate throughout. The regions of Kamurocho and Isezaki Ijincho are vibrant and lively. Oh, and did I mention that you can hop on a skateboard at any time to explore the city?
Lost Judgment is clearly for fans of RGG Studio and their games, but it’s friendly to newbies as well. The main story takes roughly 20 to 30 hours or more to complete but taking in everything else, you can very well spend more than 100 hours just going through the side cases and minigames. It’s quite a slog, to be sure, but ardent fans should appreciate it better than the majority of people expecting a shake-up like Yakuza: Like A Dragon.
- Vibrant visuals and a lively world to explore.
- Stylish and satisfying combat.
- A narrative that’s full of both crazy and grounded events.
- Lots and lots of minigames.
- The dialogue and detective work are a tedious slog.
- About 80 percent of the game is just dialogue and detective work.
Final Score: 50/100
Review copy provided by Sega. Played on PS5.