Judgment released exclusively on the PS4 in 2018 and hit the ground running with a fantastic murder-mystery story that kept you on the edge of your seat throughout its duration. Lost Judgment, however, takes a vastly different approach in several regards. While it certainly comes in hard with the punches, not all of them are delivered as accurately as they are in its predecessor. There will be no spoilers in this review aside from the very beginning cutscenes.
The story of Lost Judgment starts with a rotting corpse tied to a chair with maggots and flies coming from each of its orifices. Meanwhile, a man is in court after being arrested for groping a young woman in a train station. At his hearing, he announces that a body was found in a warehouse not long prior to his arrest. The entire time he was in jail, the body had been rotting away so its unlikely that he had committed the crime since at the time he was being arrested for groping. This is only the beginning.
You play as a detective by the name of Takayuki Yagami. If you’ve played Judgment, you know what to expect with Yagami and his detective friends. Yagami himself is a likable and relatable character and makes the experience worthwhile. His voice acting is very well done. His character development continues right where it left off in the previous game, making him feel more fleshed out.
Yagami’s friends, while not as prominent as in Judgment, do a good job of supporting the main protagonist and adding in humorous lines every now and then to break up the tension. However, there were times when I wished we got more of these interactions, as it feels like we don’t get too much time with these great characters. This very much feels like Yagami’s story and his friends are kind of an afterthought compared to the first game.
The story itself starts out rather slow as you take point in an investigation to snoop out a high school for signs of bullying. The message is a heavy hitter, with bullying and suicide as a recurring theme. Unfortunately, this aspect alone isn’t enough to edge the story out above its predecessor. While the message at its core is strong, the rest of the story is rather weak.
The suspense builds and you wait for a big reveal that just never comes. It seems as if the whole plot is unveiled within the first few chapters and there’s no new surprises towards the end. Nothing really stood out as a shock like the first game. This includes the antagonists of the story as well as its pretty clear from the get-go what is bound to occur at some point. This has to be the weakest part; there aren’t any memorable villains like the first game had.
Being that the story is 20+ hours long, it felt like it overstayed its welcome at times. Certain sections were drawn out and didn’t provide enough interest to hold my attention. That’s not to say the story is totally bad; it’s actually decent but could be way better. It certainly doesn’t come close to Judgment as far as the story goes.
Overall, Lost Judgment‘s story has a strong and intriguing premise but is poorly executed in a way that holds the players attention for longer than a few hours at a time. The antagonists aren’t memorable and feel a little weak. There’s no surprise factor that’ll make you question the rest of the game like Judgment did.
The game features an open world set in the universe established by the Yakuza series. It primarily focuses on the red-light district of Kamurocho, Tokyo, a fictionalized version of Kabukicho, Tokyo, and the port district of Isezaki Ijincho, Yokohama, a fictionalized version of Isezakicho, Yokohama. These settings of the game are incredibly detailed and diverse. With plenty to see and do, you can get lost in the world for hours on end.
Admittedly, I found myself not wanting to participate in any side quests or mini-games because I just wanted to get through the main story and be done with it. That being said, there’s actually a larger variety of mini-games than the first game if you actually find yourself wanting to do them. Take part in batting cage mini-games, boxing matches, drone races, arcade games, dancing competitions, robotic fighting tournaments and much more.
One addition to the exploration that makes it easier to get around is the skateboard. Yagami magically pulls out the skateboard when you hold down a button to do so. Unfortunately, this button is also the one that you press to run. The problem with this is that you’ll often find that he pulls the skateboard out when you didn’t intend to do so. This will often lead to you crashing and falling when colliding with civilians. That being said, it is quite fun to ride around and do kickflips in between combative segments.
The combat in Lost Judgment is addictive, more so than the first game. With the addition of a new fighting style that allows you to parry attacks, it seems more intuitive. You have to think about which fighting style you want to use as each encounter is harder depending on the types of enemies.
Speaking of which, there’s a lack of variety in the enemies you do encounter. From main bosses to your average grunts, it felt like I was fighting the same people over and over. Not to mention that some of the animations and one-liners during and after combat feel copied and pasted from the first game.
There’s several forced stealth sections that felt a little tacked on to add variety to the gameplay. These sections essentially amount to tossing a coin to distracting an enemy and slowly sneaking past them or taking them down. This is repetitive and feels lazy if I’m being honest.
During these stealth sections, when you toss a coin with a PS5 controller, you can actually feel the dual-sense triggers hold back a bit as if there’s a little resistance. Unfortunately, this is the only area of the game where this is noticeable. Not a single other part of the game is this taken advantage of. Why even include it at all if you don’t take full advantage of this capability? It feels like a missed opportunity.
It may sound like I absolutely grilled this game, but that’s only because it had so much potential. Not to mention it had alot to live up to after the first Judgment game because of how amazing it was. That being said, Lost Judgment is a decent game.
While the story may be lacking compared to the first game due to the forgettable antagonists, the premise had great potential. The premise, however, was poorly executed and left more to be desired.
Setting and gameplay wise, the game is more refined than the first. The lack of enemy variety can be overlooked due to the incredible fighting styles and upgrades that go along with them. The world itself is varied which makes up for it as well.
Overall, Lost Judgment isn’t a bad game but it isn’t a great game either. I’d say give this game a pass for now and play Judgment first. This is essentially tough love; the original was amazing so expectations were high. Fortunately, there’s enough positives here to sort of even out the overwhelming negatives. My main concern was the story; if they can nail this aspect in the next game, I have no doubt it’ll be quite exceptional.
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