The latest generation of consoles – specifically, the PS5, which we’re talking about today – is here and in gear and we’re slowly but surely seeing high-quality titles released for the latest console. The remake of Dark Souls was positively lovely, for instance, to say nothing of the latest entry in the Ratchet and Clank series. Sega, meanwhile, is making some headway onto newer consoles with Lost Judgment, the latest in the Yakuza series of crime thrillers/arcade game sims/drone racing sims/dating sims. They’re a little weird, but that’s what we all love about these games.
Our hero, Takayuki Yagami, is back, along with his associates Kaito, Sugiura and the rest. This time he’s investigating a bizarre murder case where a teaching aide was killed and left to rot in an abandoned building. As he investigates, he comes to find that there’s a lot more going on with this than one might expect – and maybe this case isn’t quite so cut and dry as the events of the original Judgment. Now it’s up to Yagami to determine his own feelings about the situation and find real justice in a world that’s not so eager to deliver it.
Investigation owes a lot to the original game. Yagami spends a fair amount of time tailing people, for instance, and there’s a few new quirks to this system such as the ability to stop and act inconspicuously to throw off your target. Likewise, there’s a fair amount of detective scenes where Yagami needs to check out a crime scene, so you’ll have to put on your Holmes hat and search for clues. These tend to be equal parts intriguing and frustrating, as sometimes you’ll need to find very specific objects to keep the plot going along. Investigation is, of course, the heart of a detective game, and Lost Judgment handles it pretty well.
Naturally, this is essentially a Yakuza game, so Yagami’s going to solve many of his problems using his fists and feet. Beating the hell out of people has a lot in common with the original Judgment; smack them around, grab them, then use a powerful heat gauge attack to take them down for the count. New in Lost Judgment is Snake Stance, a non-lethal combat stance that Yagami uses when dealing with foes who just need a little bit of convincing rather than an actual beating.
It’s equal parts hilarious and impressive with its array of counters and pulled punches, and I found myself using Snake Stance more than the returning Crane and Tiger Stance.
Likewise, well, this is essentially a Yakuza game, so Yagami’s got plenty of time to do stuff that doesn’t actually involve solving cases. He’ll run a high school dance club, for instance, or spend time at the local SEGA arcade – with the latter including some new games like the bizarre combat racer Motor Raid from 1997. There’s also plenty of side quests to check out and so on. As is usually the case with this franchise, it can be a little overwhelming at first, and you’ll probably find yourself spending a ton of time working on extracurricular activities. Even these will earn you upgrade currency for your skills, though, so it’s never a waste of time.
Lost Judgment marks the series’ second outing on PS5 after the original game found its way onto the platform, and the increased horsepower of the console shows. The framerate is smooth, the characters look fantastic and combat goes off without a hitch. It’s an absolute treat to play and shows off the power of the console, just as the original Judgment did back in the day. Oh, and Motor Raid, Fighting Vipers and Sonic the Fighters run about as well as anyone could expect, so consider those as bonuses.
Fans of the original Judgment almost inevitably want to catch the next adventures of their detective hero, so there’s a fair chance they’ve already pre-ordered this one and picked it up. Newcomers, meanwhile, may want to check out Yagami’s first outing in the original Judgment, or even start out at the beginning with one of the Yakuza games – maybe the impressive Yakuza Kiwami, for instance? One way or the other, it’s hard to deny that the Yakuza series has something for everyone these days, from inquisitive mystery fans to RPG aficionados to hardcore action junkies, and everyone ought to give the series a look.