Lost Judgment Xbox Series X Review

Lost Judgment starts strong and finishes with a bang, leaving a feeling of uncertainty of what justice actually means.

By Grayshadow, Posted 01 Dec 2021

Judgment was the first installment in a spin-off franchise set in the Yakuza series and did a magnificent job establishing a new narrative separate but part of this beloved universe. Lost Judgment builds on everything the first game set but does it in a more personal way. Dealing with the effects of bullying and showcasing a deeply profound story that doesn't sugarcoat the horrors that come with this often simplified behavior. With the developers improving many of the features from the first game and delivering an exceptional combat system along with tons of side activities. Lost Judgment is an exceptionally dark adventure that takes on sensitive topics teeming with outstanding action that shouldn't be overlooked.

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Lost Judgment stars private detective Takayuki Yagami and his partner Masaharu Kaito years after the events of the first game. Struggling to keep their business alive the 2 are hired to aid in a massive case by their friends Fumiya Sugiura and Makoto Tsukumo who now runs a new P.I. office in Ijincho. The chairman of a prestigious high school is attempting to uncover bullying taking place within the school and wants Tak and company to find out. Turns out the school has a history of bullying, leading to victims taking their own lives and the chairman wants to put a stop to it before it happens again.

The story does not pacify bullying but instead highlights it in uncomfortable ways that those who suffered from will instantly recognize. The story dives deep into the social and emotional damages it causes and the ripple effects it can have. All while interweaving a dark crime story Judgment and the Yakuza franchise is known for combined with heartwarming moments. With the events slowly growing bigger and being incorporated into something larger than expected in true Yakuza fashion.

Like Judgment, Lost Judgment deals more with the law and court system, with the focus being to search for evidence. Tak is a seasoned private detective, often going above and beyond for the truth by any means. This helps complement the story as it deals heavily with contrasting views of how to tackle not only the bullying but also how characters react to the situation. Many have their own beliefs of how to progress forward but the game keeps things in the gray. There were many times where I was against what Tak and his friends were doing but once the credits rolled it became clear that there was no right answer. Instead, everyone was chasing what they believed was right.

The game does push some of the core characters to make room for the newer cast. Genda Law Office still has a major role but most of the cast is pushed aside with the exception being Saori Shirosaki. Hoshino in particular is written to be pathetic compared to the first game, taking steps back in terms of character development. Instead, the focus is placed on the new characters.

Lost Judgment has a terrific cast of characters ranging from violent killers to victims. The excellent writing highlights how the main case regarding the bullying incidents plays into something much bigger and complements the Yakuza franchise specifically Yakuza: Like a Dragon. The narrative remains separate like with Judgment but highlights that actions in this universe are to be taken as a whole. Each one gives an exceptional performance thanks to incredible visuals, choreography, and voice work. Where Lost Judgment's narrative stumbles in is the exploration and that's because of Yakuza Like a Dragon. In that game, the developers created a sense of companionship through random dialogue between the characters but after experiencing that system and going to Tak exploring by himself most of the time it highlights how quiet things can get. Tak will sometimes be joined with an ally but they don't have any banter other than highlighting how much faster Tak is. 

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Lost Judgment improves on the fighting system of the first game and maybe the best fighting system developed within the Yakuza franchise. Tak still has access to Tiger and Crane styles but now has a new fighting style called Serpent. Tiger still focuses on strong strikes ideal for single targeting and Crane for more wide attacks but Serpent focuses on tactical throws and parrying. Tak can quickly change between styles that also shift the musical score to complement the fighting style along with bright hues. Each style has specific skills linked to them that can be upgraded by earning SP points through fights and completing cases. Thankfully the developers made progressing easier this time around with various bonuses provided for fighting specific ways and eating meals that offer unique timed upgrades. The entire combat system flows at such a buttery smooth rate that you'll instantly fall in love with it.

Fighting is precise and grounded with everything you can expect from a Yakuza game. You can use the environment and objects around the area along with Heat actions, here known as EX actions. By attacking, parrying, and blocking Tak's EX meter charges allowing him to execute specialized attacks. These are great for breaking enemy defenses, dealing heavy damage, or recovering from hits as it's easy to knock Tak down.  If things get too hectic you can execute a boost that makes Tak near impossible to knock down and deal heavy damage at the cost of your entire EX meter. Managing this meter is paramount since the most significant offense and defense attacks require its use but with enough upgrades, you'll never run out. Taking damage here is much more significant as Tak serves more as a glass cannon and this is especially present in the boss fights.

The normal enemies you'll encounter are nothing special and can easily be taken down but the bosses highlight Lost Judgment's combat system. Each one is intricate in there design with unique fighting styles that the player must contend with. At first, the fights seem straight forward but they evolve as the boss becomes more heated, getting more resistant to damage and using high-damage attacks. Adding to the intensity are incredible soundtracks unique to some boss fights to showcase their importance. The developers ensured that these fights are huge affairs meant to be taken seriously, both for the sake of narrative and gameplay.

Where the boss fights stagger is in the QTEs. During the halfway point you'll face an officer of the Liumang and it's out of nowhere that the developers decide to reveal the new QTE. It's nothing unique but it was so out of nowhere that it felt cheap. If delivered in a tutorial system it would've been forgiven but doing it this way just made me hate it.

Many of the elements from the previous have been changed but some remain the same. The drone sections, disguise option, and tailing system have been revised. Drones now limited to racing only tailing NPCs have been dramatically reduced. Outside of a handful of sections, you won't have to constantly tail NPCs like in the previous game along with Tak needing to dawn disguises less. However, the investigation system is still vexing as you'll need to tediously find specific points before progressing. A Stop and Think feature was implemented to give tips but even so it's still annoying. The developers should take notes from the Batman Arkham series if they plan to continue forward with this system. The submitting evidence scene also makes a return and uses the same system where the player selects from a series of possible choices but there are no consequences for constantly picking the wrong choice, just an awkward moment of why it's wrong by the surrounding characters. Chases haven't changed and you'll still run after targets until they run out of stamina. 

Tak is more nimble and can climb on certain environmental terrain. These are specific and not that fleshed out. Requiring Tak to climb on and balance on certain objects to move through specific areas. It's nothing major and works fine, with the developers incorporating it into the returning VR mini-game which is a replica of Mario Party.

Removed from the original is the friendship system. Tak no longer can make friends with the surrounding populist which granted him bonuses on the field such as allies to fight with and special attacks. It was a popular feature that played into the final side mission of the game but there are allies to be recruited. By completing side missions Tak can gain access to EX actions that aid him in battle and he can purchase specialized items from specific vendors without having to earn their trust. So it works for the sake of convenience.

Just like Judgment Lost Judgment has a lot of content. There are plenty of side missions to take part in that all reward you with items and experience. There are optional detective cases, side missions within the maps, drone racing, and much more. Those familiar with Judgment and Yakuza Like a Dragon will instantly be able to navigate the map the developers added a skateboard is provided to help you get around quicker. There are also plenty of items to gather and some vendors sell exclusive items. The items are highlighted with easy-to-see glowing icons and you can sell them or use them, with the game leaving items you cannot pick up around and instantly transporting them to Tak if the room is made available.

The Yakuza franchise is notorious for outstanding musical scores and Lost Judgment does not disappoint. The wide array of scores easily provide some of the best ear candy you'll hear this year. With music that captures the mood for each situation especially in the boss fights. The soundtrack is a masterpiece and is matched by the extraordinary visuals. This is a beautiful game and in terms of technical performance and atmosphere development, this game gets a perfect score.

If you're looking for a challenge beyond the Legend option the developers included The Gaunlet. This option provides additional challenges such as battle requirements, speedruns, time limit bosses, and entire sections within the core campaign with new requirements. Completing these will net you rare items and there are even classic game competitions with a 2 player option for Virtua Fighter 5 Showdown, Fighting Vipers, and Sonic the Fighters.

Lost Judgment is a dark brilliant adventure that goes down a rabbit hole often not explored in other mediums. It doesn't attempt to shy away from the harsh reality of bullying and how it can cause long-term impact but does so in an original story full of incredible action. Even after completing the core 20-hour adventure, there is so much more to do and you can replay the adventure in New Game Plus. There are small issues such as the tedious scanning, occasional annoying side mission to get 100%, and lackluster parkour elements but these are minor problems. Lost Judgment improves on almost every aspect of the first game and goes even further. Delivering a deeply profound narrative teeming with optional content and superb boss fights with a soundtrack that is ear-candy. Lost Judgment starts strong and finishes with a bang, leaving a feeling of uncertainty of what justice actually means.
 

Adam Siddiqui,
Managing Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Lost Judgment

95/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): SEGA
Developer(s): Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Crime, Fighting
Release Date: 2021-09-24

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