We can all agree that the current video game landscape is packed to the brim with quality games in every genre imaginable. However, Judgment and now Lost Judgment in my opinion are in the forefront of their own genre due to the unique brand of gameplay and storytelling. Of course, we’ve had action-based detective focused games with the most notable being Rockstar Games 2011 L.A. Noire, but since this release there hasn’t been a game that can stand alongside that title while creatively implementing new gameplay elements.
Judgment was able to seamlessly mesh the over-the-top beat’em up gameplay from the Yakuza series and wrap it around an immersive detective drama with fun mini gameplay mechanics to keep you engaged. Lost Judgment builds on that formula by adding more content to every aspect of the game.
Lost Judgment is not a sequel to Judgment’s story. So, if you have not played the first title, don’t worry about it. Yes, many of the key characters and locations are from the first title but the game does a great job at introducing you to key characters and locations during the opening mission. You play as Yagami, a former lawyer now stylish ass-kicking detective. He along with his partner Masaharu Kaito who was a former lieutenant in the Matsugane Family open the Yagami Detective Agency in Kamurocho. The dialogue / voice acting between the two Is smooth and well written.
There are two main story missions along side a good amount of shorter side missions. Many of these side missions are discovered via a new eavesdrop system. While roaming around, you will encounter people having a conversation with a dialogue bubble appearing over their heads. Simply walk over and stick around for the full conversation. This will add the side mission to your objective list. In the first main story, a police officer by the name of Akihiro Ehara is accused of groping a woman on a train. The incident is caught on video which shows the woman screaming and Akihiro Ehara running from the scene. He pleads not guilty but due to the video and eye witness confirmation from the woman, Akihiro Ehara is sentenced to jail. When asked if he has anything to say, Akihiro Ehara says check the warehouse for a body.
This story plays out like a high-tech detective crime drama. Yagami has a nice assortment of new gadgets to assist him on his investigation. Some are more useful than others such as the Buzz Researcher, this phone app uses social media key words along with geolocation to discover incidents happening in real time. However, the true stand out addition is the detective dog. That’s right, Yagami can now call on a police dog to find clues and help out during fights. Now Yagami will also get a skateboard which sounds cool but since the city streets are narrow and usually congested with cars, it makes skating around cumbersome and rather pointless.
The actual interview and interrogation process remains the same in that you have a select number of questions to ask and if asked in the correct order, SP will be earned. Another tweak to the investigation process is the ability to parkour your way into different locations. For example, in one mission you need to gain access to a high level in a building without using any doors. You are now put into first person mode and moving the on-screen cursor to find a climbing path to get to the higher level by climbing the building. Once you have found / examined a path, the new parkour gameplay mechanic kicks in. You can move up and down while a stamina bar depletes. Hang too long in one spot and you take the risk of falling. This new gameplay mechanic is simplistic and nowhere near the level of what we’ve experienced in an Assassin’s Creed game but it’s a unique addition and fits well.
The 2nd co-main story takes place in Seiryo High School. Yagami goes undercover to investigate bullying allegations. During his investigation, a wide fun mini game / objectives will need to be completed. For example, there is an E sports club that you will need to join which requires you to play classic SEGA games like Virtual Fighter.
You can even join the school’s Rabbits Dance Club which play like DDR with the end goal to reach and win the Nationals. Honestly this entire High school adventure could have been its own game. You will hear many people make the comparison to the 1987 “21 Jump Street” TV show and that’s 100% accurate. In fact, I personally think this high school experience over shadows the main story mission.
Lost Judgment’s combat system is solid which should come as no surprise. The Yakuza series has always delivered when it comes to its over-the-top fist to cuffs action. Crane and Tiger styles return alongside a new fight style called Snake. The Snake works as a counter / disarm / defense style. Its all about timing and when executed correctly looks pretty badass when brawling it out with a group of street thugs.
As you beat on enemies, complete objectives or pretty much accomplish any task you will be earning SP. This SP can be used to unlock new moves for all 3 fight styles. You also earn in game currency so you can buy much needed healing items or other goodies. Speaking of cool items, back at the detective agency HQ you will find a SEGA master system in the back hooked up to a TV which is absolutely playable.
Lost Judgment is fully loaded with content. The large open city has plenty of mini games to discover along side all the new side missions. There are some which I feel could have been removed such as QTE chases which now go on way to long and some of the new gadgets fall a bit flat but compared to everything else Lost Judgment offers they are minor issues. The Judgment series is definitely unique and as I stated in my opening in a genre of its own. The game delivers on its intended goal which is to pull you in on some wild investigations while also scratching that button mashing combat itch.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Lost Judgment for PlayStation 5 provided by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio and SEGA of America, Inc.