After 2019’s sleeper hit Judgment rolled onto the scene from developer Ryu Ga Gotoku, fans have been clamoring for more from the series since. Lost Judgment follows the loving cast of Yagami, Kaito, and more from the first game as they embark on a case that runs deeper than any of them could have imagined.
Lost Judgment Review | Back On The Streets
Upfront, I want to issue a content warning for Lost Judgment, which deals with very heavy topics. Its central story grapples with suicide, sexual assault, and how that affects the people left behind.
After a police officer is convicted of a felony, he states the location of an unfound murder victim. How does he know about the victim while he has a solid alibi? This is only the beginning of the mystery.
Yagami then finds himself in Yokohama, which fans of Yakuza: Like A Dragon will be familiar with. After being asked to investigate a case related to high school bullying, Yagami and crew find themselves wrestling with powers much more significant than some schoolyard punks.
Where do your convictions lie when the law doesn’t provide justice, and how far are you willing to go to seek out vengeance? Lost Judgment asks these questions a lot, and is the linchpin of the story.
Every new detail, in this case, opens up ten more questions. Seriously, the plot of Lost Judgement is some of the best writing I’ve seen from this studio and easily one of my favorite stories in recent memories. It asks tough questions that I even didn’t have the answers to by the end.
I won’t get into specifics of how these threads link together, but Lost Judgment does an excellent job of weaving its narrative to keep the player constantly guessing what’s going on. The plot has twists and turns that I never saw coming. My only complaint with the story is that it takes a tad too long to really get going.
The opening of the game, which is hugely tutorial heavy, feels like it just takes longer to get to what makes Lost Judgement so great. The story and open world side cases didn’t open up until around the five hours mark, which is a lot to ask the player to endure upfront.
However, once Lost Judgment started firing on all cylinders, it was tough to put down. It’s so easy to lose yourself in the world between the love and life RGG breathes into the city and characters. Whether I was cruising down Yokohama on my skateboard or completing a bunch of side cases at Seiryo High School, you always felt like something interesting was going on just right around the corner.
The bright neon streets of Kamurocho, the city of the night, are in stark parallel to Yokohama’s highways and open roads, but both serve as the setting for Lost Judgment. Whichever city you spend time in, they are both crafted beautifully and pillars of any RGG game.
All of the essentials are still there. You can hit up the batting cages, darts, drone racing, and even the arcade. This time around, lost Judgment has a fully playable version of Sonic The Fighters. I’m still not sure if that’s a great or terrible thing, but hey, it’s there if you want to try it out.
If you just want to explore the city, Yagami is given a skateboard pretty early on that will be your means of travel. You can grind on rails, do some tricks, and just skate around the city streets; it’s a nice touch.
The side cases in lost Judgment are on par with some of the best Yakuza substories. One side case had me investigating a science school body model that apparently “came to life at night”. The game became a pseudo horror experience as I walked the empty and dreary halls of the school at night in search of this model.
Other moments I was fighting waves of thugs with Yagami’s classic styles. If you played the original Judgment, you’re familiar with Yagami’s Tiger and Crane style. One is more of a bruiser and heavy hitter, while the crane style is excellent for large swathes of enemies. Yagami’s third style, Snake, is what I used for most of my adventure. Its parry became a mainstay in fights and allowed me to get through fights while never being hit. It’s clear that there’s a style here to make combat fun and accessible no matter how you play.
Of course, combat also has EX moves, which are just Yakuza’s Heat moves. These are your flashy finishers that deal a ton of damage. There’s enough variety that you don’t feel like you’re watching the same 2 animations repeatedly.
The music in Lost Judgment is top-notch, especially the battle themes. Hardcore dubstep pulses through your headphones as you’re beating down thugs as Yagami, and the boss music oscillates between triumphant and horrifying.
One of the last fights has a theme so creepy that I’ll be thinking about it for a long time after putting this game down.
Lost Judgment also brings back the investigation, chase sequences, and ads all-new stealth missions. After all, Yagami is a detective, and that means having to do some sneaking around. While all of these features are greatly improved over the original, they just kill the pace of any given scene.
So often, you are asked to go into first person and look for clues in an area. They are pretty easy to spot most of the time, but other times I was searching for what felt like forever, combing over every detail of an environment just to find whatever the game was looking for. It brings some of these scenes to a grinding halt.
This is the same with the stealth missions; They feel stilted, repetitive, and frankly quite dull. It was never an exciting set of events and felt more like something to break up the pace between fights. I just wish they did more with stealth than having you throw a coin and choke someone out.
As for the chase sequences, there aren’t many of them, and they don’t intrude on the game too much. However, I’d be ok with never having to do them again.
Even though the actual detective parts don’t always hold up, the city, combat, story, and soundtrack all work together beautifully. Lost Judgment is an excellent package filled with noir mystery and a stellar cast. It’s worth making time for if you’re a fan of the first one, and if you’ve never played the series before, it’s a great place to hop in.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review
- Excellent narrative
- Characters all have time to shine
- Yokohama has never looked better
- Stealth sections aren't interesting
- Investigation kills pacing
- Chase and tailing sequences are repetitive