As a Yakuza newbie and a long-time fan of murder mysteries, here are my thoughts on Yagami's latest adventure in Lost Judgement.
In Lost Judgment, you play as lawyer-turned-detective Yagami Takayuki as he investigates crimes in the city of Tokyo and it's the sequel to Judgment, a spin-off of the Yakuza series that received critical acclaim. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to play Judgment so my thoughts here are from a fresh perspective of someone who has little prior knowledge of the Yakuza series.
The story in Lost Judgment starts extremely slow; in fact, it takes a good 5 chapters for things to get thoroughly interesting. This is because you spend a lot of your time at the start within a high school as you investigate cases of bullying. If hanging around a school as a 50 year old man dressed in jeans and a leather jacket while you beat up unruly kids sounds a little contradictory to the premise then you'll be happy to know that the story indeed takes a turn if you can persevere through the beginning for 7 or 8 hours.
Although it's a slow start, when you begin to piece together how the goings on in the school are linked to some larger events that are making the news, you'll have more of a reason to keep playing. The plot has many twists and turns when things ramp up but Lost Judgment manages to portray the complicated story in a way that makes sense even when it appears to become quite complicated.
If beating up kids seems out of place then you're not alone but thankfully, fighting in Lost Judgment can be fun, especially during certain story scenes where you face off against waves of enemies while using objects in your surroundings to do extra damage. Some fights are with simple thugs that have small life bars but others include bosses that require a lot of pummelling before they'll fall down.
When you're not using the scenery to your advantage, you can swap between a few different fighting stances that offer benefits such as snake which allows you to dodge and counter-attack easily. Plus, there are a whole slew of moves to unlock and ways to improve your stats. However, you can win the majority of fights by mashing 1 or 2 buttons; making these complexities feel empty. Having said that, when you manage to increase your EX gauge enough to perform a special move, it can be quite the spectacle to behold.
In between street fights, you'll make your way from point A to point B either on foot, by cab, or even via skateboard. In some locations, you'll also use parkour to find your way into a closed building but I felt like these moments didn't happen often enough and when they did, I had always forgotten how to do certain things. The animations when climbing also come across as a little clunky.
Stealth plays a role every now and then in Lost Judgment whether you're following someone on crowded streets while trying not to get caught or making your way through the hallways of a building to reach your destination without being scene. This is generally handled quite well but just like with the parkour moments, it only occurs in certain parts of the story and not often enough.
The overall flow of Lost Judgment's campaign is rather linear if you decide to leave the side-quests for later. This combined with the facts that you only get to enjoy some of the gameplay elements at very specific story moments and that there's a lot of dialogue often made me feel like I was just watching a movie and not playing a game. There were actually quite a few moments when I was presented with choices of what to do or say but there was clearly one right answer and if I picked the wrong one, I was just asked to pick again.
On the other hand, if completing side-quests is your thing then you won't be disappointed with Lost Judgment as there are plenty of side-cases, school missions, and stories to unlock that have nothing to do with the main case and act as fun distractions. You'll also have more opportunity to use a wide array of gadgets such as a bug detector, noise amp, camera, phone app, and even a dog detective.
If you want to take a break from the workload, you can also just hang out in Tokyo and enjoy what it has to offer such as getting high scores in a huge array of classic Sega arcade games, eating every item on the menu in a noodle shop, and collecting items found on the streets. As you travel from one location to the next, you'll constantly be distracted by the colourful signs and shops around you which do a good job of pulling you in to spend more of your hard-earned cash. These additions help to bring the city to life but I wish there was more variety in the locations other than an absurd amount of restaurants and arcades to visit.
When it comes to presentation, the character models and most of the animations within Lost Judgment are impressive with many close-ups of characters' faces which portray genuine emotion. The same can be said for the English voice acting which I have no complaints about. Although I've never been to Japan, Lost Judgment's depictions of a typical city street fit with how I'd imagine the city to look and there's a solid level of detail. However, as I was often running between the same locations, I found myself getting a little bored of the same scenery over and over and wished the story would take me to more different-looking locations.
For a detective game, Lost Judgment presents an intriguingly complex story and a decent variety of gameplay and gadgets. However, it takes a long time to get interesting and the actual detective work is a bit too linear for hardcore mystery fans like me.
- + After a slow start, the story becomes impressively engaging and complex
- + Solid amount of gadgets and quests
- + Excellent graphics, especially the characters
- - Story feels very linear with not much actual sleuthing gameplay
- - Quite humdrum before the story takes off
- - Not enough visual variety in the scenery