There aren’t many games that can take you from meticulously investigating a crime-scene to a dance competition, but not before indulging in a street brawl with some thugs right after gambling at a curbside casino. Much like its Yakuza step-brother games, Lost Judgment is a smorgasbord of genres and styles, but with an overarching detective-adventure theme that makes it one of the most interesting games in 2021 that should not be overlooked. Of course, Lost Judgment isn’t without some hiccups, but it’s an incredibly enjoyable experience that isn’t replicated by anything else on the market, and that’s not often said in this day and age.
While it doesn’t carry a numerical signifier, Lost Judgment is a direct sequel to 2018’s Judgment, and follows private detective Takayuki Yagami as he investigates a new murder which sends him down a road of trying to balance dealing out some old-fashioned justice with his fists, or play it by the book and rely on the law to do its thing. Without going into too much story detail for spoiler-sake, it’s a really interesting murder mystery set-up that evolves into a wider conspiracy that should appeal to those who love the overdramatic and shenanigans of the bombastic crime genre. The story, while somewhat over the top like other Yakuza games, hits some interesting beats and dabbles in some mature themes that give Lost Judgment its own identity.
Where Lost Judgment really shines is in its gameplay variety. If you walked in, out, and back into a room of someone playing Lost Judgment, you may think they have switched games at some point. There really is a wealth of activities on offer here: open-world exploration, a deep combat system with multiple fighting styles, investigation segments, on-foot chases, and tons of side-quests that feature everything from skateboarding to boxing, not to mention some really great side cases to take on. While none of the mini-games are tightly-mechanised game-changers, the inclusion of such a wealth of activities makes the world of Lost Judgment seem alive and in-motion, which only adds to the immersion of the main storyline — it makes the victims and perpetrators feel like real people living in a real city full of things to do (and places to hide).
Lost Judgment does rely on quick-time events for a lot of the peripheral activities and chase sequences, which can feel very outdated, especially in the current generation of games and consoles. But thankfully, the core moment-to-moment gameplay, combat, and presentation are so well executed, that it’s hard to let some of the clumsier ideas hurt the overall experience.
Lost Judgment may look goofy from the outside, but it’s got a very compelling narrative that adds a lot of weight and incentive to the investigation and combat sequences. It’s definitely more than the sum of its parts, and Lost Judgment manages to provide an incredibly satisfying detective game within another game about doing zany things around town. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but anyone who’s a fan of the Yakuza games or wants something a little different, Lost Judgment should be on your list.
Lost Judgment is available on PS4 and PS5.