Monday, May 1, 2023

Open World Action-Adventure RPG Review: Lost Judgment

Takayuki Yagami returns as a private detective in Lost Judgment, Ryu Ga Gotaku Studio's sequel to its action-adventure RPG, Judgment.

The Yagami detective agency goes to Seiryo High School on a small case that opens up much wider when a former student accused of bullying is murdered. Takayuki Yagami becomes an advisor for the Mystery Research Club so that he can investigate while having a legitimate reason to be on school grounds. He is once again aided by his partner, ex-yakuza Masaharu Kaito, as well as tech master Makoto Tsukumo and former theif Fumiya Sugiura, who have set up their own agency in Isezaki Ijincho named Yokohama 99.

The game takes place immediately following Yakuza: Like a Dragon, so Lost Judgment includes the usual Kamurocho as well as the area created for the former, Isezaki Ijincho. Since Yakuza: Like a Dragon had such a huge impact on the future of the series, it is really interesting to see what the yakuza characters are up to now without their clans.

As the story progresses, Tak comes face to face with a formidable villain that is just as skilled at both fighting and investigating as him, if not more so. This aspect was the best part of the game, as the villain was one of the best that Ryo Ga Gotaku Studio has ever produced. It also gave Takayuki Yagami, the Sherlock Holmes of the Judgment series, his own Moriarty.

As opposed to the turn-based combat in Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Lost Judgment features the direct-controlled brawler combat for which the Like a Dragon series became famous. Like in Judgment, Tak also uses his private investigator skills such as lock-picking, investigating scenes, and tailing suspects, to accomplish his tasks.

The school setting allows for a lot of minigames that Tak can participate in due to his role as a school advisor, including photography, dancing, competing in Virtua Fighter 5, robot fighting, and boxing. School missions will also unlock decidedly not school-friendly areas where Tak can date, race motorbikes, challenge gangs in skateboarding contests, and gamble.

As this is a Ryu Ga Gotaku Studio game, there are also a bunch of substories. Many include the wackiness for which the studio has become known. There are also more serious substories, especially regarding the Mystery Detective Club. It is well worth playing through that storyline, as the mystery of the identity of the Professor is one that is intriguing, has many unexpected twists and turns, and the payoff is well worth the effort put in to get to the finish line.

The Judgment series continues to be a worthy spin-off of the Like a Dragon series. Lost Judgment is better than the original game, with a more compelling villain, a memorable storyline, fun minigames, and fantastic substories. The morality of the ending is definitely up for debate, but the path to get there is well worth it. Lost Judgment is not just one of the best Ryu Ga Gotaku Studios games, but it is also one of the best games ever produced.

Final verdict:
5 out of 5

Yakuza: Like a Dragon ReviewLost Judgment: The Kaito Files Review Coming Soon