I’m going to be honest with you, I’ve not really played many of the Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio games. I love the idea of their Yakuza series and its spin-offs, and I’ve jumped into some for a few hours, but the sheer scale of them always scares me away. However, it’s been one of those series I’ve been desperate to actually give a proper go for a while, and I’m really rather glad that my first one is Lost Judgment.
Players will once again take control of Takayuki Yagami, the ex-lawyer turned detective who’s now two years older than when he helped resolve The Mole Serial Killings. While Judgment and Lost Judgment both undoubtedly have the same inherent silliness as the Yakuza series, they feel a little bit darker and grittier, mostly due to the focus on investigations and detective work instead of whatever it is Kiryu does.
Things kick off with you helping out a woman who’s been scammed out of a huge sum of money by a pretty boy that is conning a lot of people. This serves as your introduction and takes you through how to trail someone, setting up the perfect photo for evidence, the combat, and the stealth mechanics. There’s a lot going on in Lost Judgment, but it’s all quite entertaining to engage with, and while trailing people isn’t generally my idea of a good time, the game makes things interesting enough that I didn’t hate it either.
The funniest part of trailing someone is that if they notice you, you get to act casual. This involves things like pretending to be on a phone call, acting like you’re taking a selfie, and looking around for invisible lost wallets. These are apparently things that, as the game explains is, “a person who’s tailing someone definitely wouldn’t do.” It’s incredibly tongue-in-cheek, and I’ve found myself laughing out loud at several points. It’s a good thing that it handles the comedic moments so well too, because the story itself is incredibly dark right from the off. Consider this your content warning for the content warnings.
Lost Judgment’s new case takes Yagami down to a fictionalised part of Yokohama.
That got dark
After the initial case, the core story of Lost Judgment is introduced. The main plot revolves around a police officer named Akihiro Ehara, who is accused of groping a woman on a train, but also seems to have murdered someone for bullying his kid into committing suicide. This isn’t your case, though; you’re looking into bullying at a private school called Seiryo High, which seems to be the same school that Ehara’s kid went to.
Basically, everyone’s acutely aware of the fact that the justice system is corrupt and completely unable to deal with the problems of a modern age, not to mention the potential corruption of the people who are meant to uphold the laws. It’s an idea that’s been in cop and crime stories for a long time, but it’s not always done well.
Lost Judgment seems to be handling things with an appropriate degree of aged cynicism and realism, and I’m finding the way it’s telling the story to be completely fascinating, and at times heartbreaking. The emotional beats have been consistently hitting so far, and despite the innate coolness of Yagami, it’s all balanced in a way to make the writing both good and believable.
The combat is as flashy as ever in Lost Judgment.
It’s only just beginning
I’m still quite early on in Lost Judgment, so it’s a bit early to be, uh, judging it just yet. That being said, I am happy to say that I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far. The combat feels great and manages to keep a good balance of making you feel like an unstoppable powerhouse and while also feeling human. Investigations are interesting enough to keep you looking for clues, but never go on so long that they feel like a chore, and the world all of this takes place in is absolutely incredible.
I’ve not even touched on the fact that you’ve got a working Master System in your office, or the plethora of mini-games that are dotted around the world, mostly because I’m worried that if I start playing them too much, I’ll never actually finish the game.
So far, Lost Judgment has been punching, kicking, and backflipping its way into GOTY contention. If it can maintain or even improve its hits as the story continues, then it’s sure to be an incredible game.