A murder, a detective, a grand conspiracy. Games by Ryu Ga Gotoku certainly have a style and that style has kept me coming back to every single release over the last half a decade. Now, Lost Judgment attempts to follow that formula but, with a new story and a new director, it has a lot to live up to.
Lost Judgment puts you in the shoes of Takayuki Yagami once again. Now, some time after the first game, Fumiya and Makoto have set up their own detective agency and call on you to use your detective skills to help them with a big case.
You are to investigate a school that has been accused of covering bullying and the suicide of one of their students years ago. The principal wants you to figure out if there's bullying going on and how to stop it before it becomes even more disastrous.
As is the case for these types of games, this isn't all Lost Judgment has going on. It has a deep, troubling story about a man getting revenge on someone who escaped the law, troubled teens who are pushed to violence through their circumstances, and the results of how people act when they see no justice.
The writings on the wall
It's sociopolitically understanding, with empathy and compassion. It's also goofy. I think many might be off-put by this tone switch but humans themself can be goofy, insightful, silly, and, most importantly, incredibly dangerous.
It talks about societal reform, the issue of recidivism, and what result vigilantism usually gets. Alongside this, it speaks of the reasons for it and why people often feel it is their last resort. It touches on themes of suicide, depression, the prison industrial complex, and the failures of the Japanese legal system.
I think this story could easily be seen as melodrama but I think it intends to be more than that. When we look at the systems of powers that subliminally control our lives, we have to look at every moment in it.
A high school may be a strange spot for this story to take place but it's also where children are made into adults. It's often a pivotal moment in people's lives and needs to be seen as such. Like the Yakuza series, this story is personal and responsible, whilst being deeply critical.
It's also just a lot of fun. It's an action RPG where you earn points from activities, beat bad guys and complete story missions while using them to increase your stats. If you played Judgment, you likely understand how this system works.
Although it feels very similar to the last game, its story is more focused and pointed, its gameplay is more expansive and it takes Yagami to the Ijincho district. Here, you can explore around as you would with Kamurocho but it has a functioning school, new bars, and some brand new people to meet.
The Side Quests
The series' strong point has always been in its stories and the side quests are as interesting, insightful, and downright weird as they always have been. To express this, I'll take you through one short story.
As you explore the school at night, you come across a man in a full human bodysuit. It shows under the skin, the muscles, bones, and everything else you can spot.
Upon seeing you, he runs into the dark of the night. If you walk around the building, it will initiate a chase where you continue to stalk him around until you catch him. Turns out he was a stressed student worried about flunking out. In preparation, this suit was stolen from the school and he wanted to borrow it to study.
You let him go and find him later, celebrating a decent result. This story has stayed in mind, partially because of how strange it is chasing him around school but mostly, because it feels humanly weird.
The Yakuza series has always been good at encapsulating wacky experiences through a human lens and Lost Judgment nails this tone throughout
Its fighting is as sharp as ever and it is only complemented through the use of Yagami's gadgets. One particularly interesting addition to the formula is his skateboard. You can take it around the city for a speed boost and can collect coins. Turning movement in a mini-game adds a lot to the moment-to-moment experience.
Speaking of moment-to-moment experiences, the minigames are back and expanded. As is the case with all RGG studio games, you know mostly what you're getting here but it's just so much fun to get back in there again. It's rare I finish a 50 + hour game and feel like I want more but I'm desperate to see where Yagami goes next.
Lost Judgment takes the training wheels of Takayuki Yagami and lets him explore his own story without restraints. It's a glorious return to form with great gameplay, an interesting story, and an addictive open world. With Lost Judgment, RGG hasn't just made the best Judgment game, they've made one of the best Ryu Ga Gotoku have ever put forward.
RealSport Rating: 4.5 out of 5
We played Lost Judgment on PlayStation 5 and Review Code was provided to us by Sega.