Developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio and Published by SEGA, Lost Judgement is the sequel to the favourably received Judgment and a spin-off of the main Yakuza series. I myself am sort of newish to the Yakuza games having completed Yakuza 0-3 and about halfway through the fourth entry but I know what they are about. They are usually great fun with bags of side activities, missions and a main story that is usually pretty dark and deep with a massive twist at some point. Lost Judgement is made from the same formula and it has really swung for fences with the side activities and mini-games. The main mission is pretty deep and dark still but maybe a little too dark…
As in Judgement, you play as Takayuki Yagami a private detective who also holds a lawyer badge. The agency is still pretty new and so they are taking on most jobs regardless of how small. They soon are offered a case by their friend’s detective agency in the Ijincho district of Yokohama. The case is to identify whether the local school has a bullying issue. Little did they know this was just a small thread of a bigger tapestry where a boy from the school committed suicide a few years ago, which his father believed was due to bullying. That suicide becomes important as the father of the boy was arrested for groping at the same time the suspected bully of his son was murdered. But the coincidence of it all was quashed when the father spoke out at his sentencing saying exactly where the body of the now murdered bully will be discovered. Did the father get himself arrested on purpose to provide himself with an alibi and was he involved in the murder of his sons bully? That is what you need to solve.
Reading about this game and knowing what the case was about as it was shown in the trailer you would think the game is quite gritty and dark. Don’t get me wrong the main storyline is pretty dark and hard-hitting but this game is so much more than that and I will explain why. Anyone that has played a Yakuza game will be right at home with the 3rd person controls and style of the game. There are a lot of similarities with regards to movement, combat and reviewing both main and side quests. But if you know anything about the Yakuza series, you’ll know they always have a heavy lean on procrastination – and this game goes the extra mile.
In most games in the series, they let you play side minigames like darts, baseball and golf which are all also in Lost Judgement. They have the usual Japanese gambling and board games like shogi and mah-jong amongst many others which I don’t fully understand how to play. But they have also added Drone racing into the mix and a new virtual board game called Paradise VR which is as crazy as it is fun. That’s not all though; as with most games in the series there is a local arcade and with SEGA being the publisher, of course they have snuck in a few recognisable titles that you can play. In the past, you would see the likes of Space Harrier or Super Hang On, but here they have added in some other older titles as well as more interesting titles like Fighting Vipers, Sonic the Fighters and Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown (holy shit – ed). But why stop there? They have also included a new creation called Hama of the Dead which is a watered-down version of House of the Dead (HOLY SHIT!! – ed) – a rail shooter in which you used your controller to aim. Then, if it wasn’t packed out enough of games within games, at Takayuki’s home is a Master System which you can boot up and play 8 or so titles that you can unlock/find, but you do have one game you can play straight away and that is Alex Kidd in Miracle World.
Aside from the side activities, which are bursting at the seams, there are also side quests to be involved in. It seems many people require a private investigator and you will step up regardless of the case. As you progress, you get new gadgets to play with to help you with your detective work; for example, a sound enhancer to overhear conversations at a distance, a signal checker to track down illegal signals, and even a buzz researcher which reminds of a tool used in a Batman film. Basically, the Buzz researcher overhears many conversations in Ijincho and when you’re investigating, you can pick out keywords like UFO. Searching these keywords lets you know where on the map people are having conversations involving that keyword to help you pinpoint your investigations. Early on in the game, you are gifted with a skateboard which allows you a novel way to get about the map which is more interesting than just running everywhere. But should you tire of skateboarding you can still get about the place by taxi which are placed all over the map. Also all around the map, there are items to pick up which are usually sellable items or materials. They are literally everywhere and I only know what half of them are for but it leads me to think (this fictional) Japan has a real litter problem.
There are three other gaming mechanisms to the game. You have the trail, where you follow a person of interest without getting caught so you have to hide around corners and behind obstacles; the discovery, where you need to look around and focus on areas of interest to help further the story; and you have the chase where you need to catch the person of interest whilst dodging obstacles, missiles they throw at you and picking up health items to keep up the energy for the chase.
The combat in the game feels like it has taken a bit of a step back compared to its Yakuza predecessors. Not in terms of content as there are three unique fighting styles to master with further skills you can unlock by finding certain manuals or by unlocking them with skill points that you earn. With Yakuza the fighting was almost everything but with Lost Judgment, it feels less prominent. Don’t get me wrong though, when you get into a large scale fight or a fight with a special character they feel just as meaty as their predecessors. There are plenty of approaches you can use for combat as well as using potion enhancers and equipping certain equipment to give you an edge. As with previous games in the series you still have those groups of ill-mannered folk who are itching to pick a fight but it feels way more seamless. You go in and out of fights without having a standoff or a mini pause before starting the fight which feels much better.
I have to say playing this on the Series X and S that the game looks amazing. There is a choice for English voice acting which is nice and saves having to constantly read subtitles. The character models and the voice acting are on point. Takayuki comes across as smart and considerate whilst also being a badass. He is very likeable and fun to play as. If I had to find something bad about the game it would be that the number of fun activities and side quests that are in the game can sometimes reduce the gravity of that situation that you are investigating a murder and a child bullied into committing suicide.
Lost Judgement is in my eyes a superb addition to the Yakuza series and is jam-packed with content. The graphics are great, the voice acting is great and the amount of activities that will distract you from the main quest is mind-blowing. It used the same formula which made its predecessors so much fun to play and improved on it. Even as dark and gruesome as the main story is there is always something around the corner in this game to put a smile back on your face.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox Series X/S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.