Lost Judgement is the sequel to the 2019 Yakuza series spin-off Judgement. Takayuki Yagami returns and is once again portrayed by Japanese acting icon Takuya Kimura. Lost Judgement delivers on a game to play, but not so much a story to tell. The main story attempts to handle some really dark and heavy subject matters in high school bullying and suicide. Games shouldn’t shy away from portraying real-world issues and bringing them to light, but Lost Judgement has a quirky, light-hearted feel that makes these heavy subjects feel out of place. The light-hearted fun and gameplay are what kept me around, unfortunately, the main story feels more like a vehicle to unlock more side quests and other free roam content.
The side content is where Lost Judgment really comes to shine. There is an entirely different story arc told through side quests. As well as individual side missions through the in-game phone app and detective board at Yagami’s agency. These side quests really embrace the quirkiness that makes the game so funny and enjoyable. In one case I needed to catch an “Arachnid-man” that was climbing buildings and stealing girls’ underwear. The city feels alive, in that each store carries unique goods and only pawnshops will buy stuff from Yagami. The people around town have conversations that will lead to keywords that Yagami overhears leading him to more side quest crimes to bust.
My biggest complaint is that some of the mini-games are recycled and forced on the player for progression. I have done too many generic chase sequences and too many on-rails stealth sequences that all feel the same as the last. While this doesn’t ruin the game it does slow down the pace and has me just wishing I could get on to the next part.
Lost Judgments combat retains the brawling style that was used in the earlier Yakuza games before their move to turn-based combat. Bringing three unique fighting styles gives enough depth to keep the combat from growing stale and repetitive. While not very difficult it is satisfying to pummel your way through a group of thugs.
The graphics and audio deliver what is necessary. No amazing leaps in graphical prowess or musical scores that you’ll be listening to outside of the game, Lost Judgement best-looking installment in all the Yakuza entries and feels smooth at 60 fps on the PS5. Even in high-action battles with five or more opponents, the game carries its smooth fps. It’s exactly what we would expect in the new generation of consoles. Better than any of its predecessors, but it doesn’t change the game graphically.
One trip through the story is enough, but there are some aspects for replayability. There are a handful of mini-games that would bring me back for a good time. I could see myself coming back every now again for another good brawl with some thugs. The game offers some light RPG elements in some equipment that give small stat boosts to mix things up, but overall, there’s not a ton of replayability here.
The controls feel good, in and out of combat. Movement feels intuitive around the city as Yagami is on his feet as well as when skateboarding around the city. While the controls feel good, some of the animations leave something to be desired. Small things like skateboarding are forced to the street, and going out of the area will remove the skateboard. Not game-breaking, but it’s a small annoyance having to bring out the skateboard again. Combat is an arcade brawling style and the controls are intuitive and not overly difficult to perform even Yagamis most intricate combos.