REVIEW: ‘Lost Judgement’ Is a Decent Sequel With a Few Miscues (PS5)

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Lost Judgement-But Why Tho

Content Warning: Lost Judgement contains subjects like sexual assault and suicide.

Lost Judgment is an action-adventure game developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio and is the sequel to 2018’s Judgment. The series is a spin-off of the popular Yakuza franchise and takes place in familiar locations. With that said, you don’t need to have played any of the Yakuza games, as they don’t have any major character crossover. I would recommend playing Judgement before Lost Judgement, however.

Lost Judgement is played from the perspective of Takayuki Yagami, a private investigator who first appeared in the original Judgement. Lost Judgement starts right off the bat with some very jarring imagery of a dead body, and it helps set the stage for the story going forward. Yagami and his partner, Masaharu Kaito, are brought in to help investigate accusations of bullying at Seiryo High School. As the case unwinds, heavier topics such as suicide and sexual assault play an essential and dark role in the story.

It is really challenging for a game to tell a story with these types of heavy topics in a way that treats them with the seriousness they deserve, and I felt like Lost Judgement missed the mark pretty badly at times, especially when it comes to the use of sexual assault in the story. While the topics of bullying and suicide were handled with care, the sexual assault plotline felt almost gratuitous. Every other dark and serious topic was treated sensitively, which made it all the more discouraging that the sexual assault moments of the story felt like something I would’ve expected from a game in the mid-2000s. It wasn’t quite bad enough for me to write the game off entirely, but it did seriously dampen my experience with what I thought was an otherwise enjoyable story.

Part of what made the story beats that did work feel so good was the incredible writing and performances of all of the characters involved. Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has proven to create compelling characters consistently, and Lost Judgement is no exception. Lost Judgement also features both English and Japanese voice acting, and both casts do an immaculate job of portraying their characters. I played the majority of the game in Japanese, but I never once felt like the English voices were any less excellent. I’m glad both casts are as good as they are because the inclusion of a tremendous English cast makes the game more accessible to players who prefer playing games dubbed instead of subbed. It’s also really neat to see different actors give their unique takes on their characters in other languages.

Outside of the story, Lost Judgement is a return to form in turns of gameplay for a Yakuza-universe game. Most of my time was spent exploring the two locations in the game, Kamurocho and Isezaki Ijincho. Both look incredible and are bustling with plenty of activity. The investigation mechanics from Judgement return in the sequel virtually unchanged as far as I could tell. The beat-’em-up combat in the game is also in line with the games released before Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which implemented turn-based combat for the first time in the franchise. I prefer the original fighting style in the series over the change to turn-based combat, so if you’re like me, you will be satisfied with the over-the-top and fast-paced combat action.

Not every mechanic in Lost Judgement is good, however. Lost Judgement features the addition of new stealth and parkour mechanics as well as a skateboard to help make traveling faster, and none of them seemed to really work very well. Stealth felt incredibly unoriginal and generic—just a simple act of throwing coins to distract guards. Skateboarding just felt completely unnecessary. You are much better off either walking or calling a cab to fast travel to new locations. It’s safe to say Lost Judgement is not going to be confused for a Tony Hawk spin-off.

The only one of the new mechanics that felt somewhat interesting was the parkour. The only problem is that sometimes the game will require players to climb objects to access a new location. It wasn’t bad necessarily, but at times it really slowed down the pace of the game. However, I do appreciate the willingness to experiment with new mechanics, even if they don’t work out. Sure, it can sometimes make parts of the game less enjoyable than they would otherwise, but I prefer trying and not quite succeeding over playing it completely safe.

Throughout my time with Lost Judgement, I felt torn about how I ultimately felt about the game. There were moments that I really enjoyed, especially the combat, but the handling of sexual assault and some unimaginative mechanics left me frustrated at best. All in all, I would say Lost Judgement is a perfectly okay sequel that fans of the original Judgement are sure to enjoy. It may not be amazing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth playing. If you can handle the negatives, some genuinely great moments in Lost Judgment are worth experiencing.

Lost Judgement is out now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X and Series S.

Lost Judgement
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

Throughout my time with Lost Judgement, I felt torn about how I ultimately felt about the game. There were moments that I really enjoyed, especially the combat, but the handling of sexual assault and some unimaginative mechanics left me frustrated at best. All in all, I would say Lost Judgement is a perfectly okay sequel that fans of the original Judgement are sure to enjoy. It may not be amazing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth playing. If you can handle the negatives, some genuinely great moments in Lost Judgment are worth experiencing.