Initial Release Date: September 24, 2021
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Mode: Single-player video game
Composer: Hidenori Shoji
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox One
Genres: Fighting game, Action-adventure game
"Review Copy Provided By SEGA"
When Ryo Ga Gatoku Studios decided to expand the Yakuza franchise and have stories set in the fictional Kamurocho that did not include the former series mainstay Kiryu Kazama, they had a challenge on their hands. What we ended up getting was none other than Judgement in 2019 which was the fijudgementrst major Yakuza spin-off following the post Yakuza 6 world with a new protagonist in Takayuki Yagami. Judgement was a massive success with not only fans of the franchise but also with the mainstream and newcomers to the series and did so well in fact that the game was remastered in the beginning of 2021 for the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Not long after the remaster, an announcement of a sequel dropped and promised to take Yagami on his darkest journey yet. Here we are with that sequel in Lost Judgement, does it live up to the hype or does it tread too much of the same ground as before? Let’s find out!
Lost Judgement’s story sees Takayuku Yagami and his gumi (group) trying to find evidence to prove that one man, Akihiro Ehara, was able to be in two places at one time along with asking the question of “What is Justice?” and creating a social commentary on what happens when the law fails to uphold justice and the very real topics of bullying, trauma, murder, serial killing, and suicide.
If you’re at all familiar with the Yakuza series, then you’ll know that not much changes between titles outside of there being refinements in the gameplay mechanics and streamlining of other aspects of the games, so when I say that Lost Judgement feels like more of the same that we got from Judgement then you’ll know what I mean. You still have all the same brawler combat as before along with the return of the detective elements of the gameplay of the last entry; where Lost Judgement stands out from the original is in adding in a new fighting style that focuses on parrying incoming attacks. Frankly, there isn’t much more to talk about as far as the gameplay formula other than the fact that RGG studio have further refined it here.
In refining the core gameplay formula, RGG Studios have fully refined the detective aspects of the game to be more involved than the previous games’ look around until you see the thing that triggers the next cutscene or fighting baddies until they coughed up information. Lost Judgement now has you utilizing trackers, keyword searches, chat log and social media browsing, directional microphone usage to focus on specific people and things, and usage of the drone.
Returning are side cases which have you exploring about both Kamurocho and the new area of Yokohama. If you played Yakuza: Like a Dragon, then you’ll know that Lost Judgement picks up shortly after Ichiban’s adventure. You’ll be exploring everything from a mysterious science mannequin that springs to life at night to working with a detective dog to sniff out potential crime to even UFO sightings.
These side stories are much more zany and contrast the dark and somber main story and give you a break from it’s serious tone of tackling subjects like bullying, social isolation, and suicide. Lost Judgement dives headfirst into these topics and doesn’t try to put any cut spins on how these impact people. The first game provided social commentary of society and those who have power and use it to dominate others while this game focuses on bullying during childhood and how it impacts individuals as well as how society typically allows such things to happen and often brushes it under the rug.
You still have access to classic SEGA titles in the various CLUB SEGA’s and arcades located around the bend along with some other minigames to dive into and have fun with as per usual in a RGG Studios game.
Graphically, Lost Judgement doesn’t look much if at all different from the remaster of Judgement of which had higher polygon count on character models including substantially higher levels of details along with in character faces, clothes, environments, hair textures, lighting, and objects in the environment. Lost Judgement basically is just more of what you saw in Judgement and that’s not a bad thing.
I don’t have a lot to say here other than if you loved the voice work (both in English and Japanese), the OST, and the general ambience of the previous game then you’ll love Lost Judgement as it’s essentially more of the same give or take a few new tracks and some new voices here and there.
Greg Chun is once again stellar in the role of Yagami and absolutely shines with his cadence and delivery. Other members of the voice cast that absolutely do tremendous voice work are Mark Whitten, Crispin Freeman, and Todd Haberkorn.
The main theme of the game, Rasen, is an absolute BANGER and really sets the tone for this dark tale with some amazing riffs and amazing vocals by jon-YAKITORY and Ado.
I can’t really say that there are many downsides to this game that are worth me nitpicking over honestly. If anything I can say that it feels more like more of the same which can be a good or bad thing depending on who you are and what you’re expecting. For me I personally loved the first game and love that they went the extra mile to refine a lot of the gameplay aspects that carried over from the first game, yet someone else could be upset that the game doesn’t really strive to do a lot more and might get a sense of “been there, done that”.
Lost Judgement is a sequel to one of the best games of 2019 that effectively does very little to add to that experience and yet it still pulls off one of the best gaming and narrative experiences of 2021 showcasing that you don’t have to do a lot of radically different things to a sequel for it to be good. Lost Judgement has the best 3D brawling you’ll find in any game along with some of the best detective gameplay and some of the silliest and most memorable side quests you’ll find all while openly and honestly tackling the subjects of bullying and trauma that showcases the masterfulness of RGG Studios. This is a must own game so don’t sleep on this title!