You might have heard about and played one or two games of Yakuza’s long-running franchise. But what makes Judgment and its sequel Lost Judgment different from the normal Yakuza series is the story angle and its main protagonist, played by Japanese singer and actor Takuya Kimura.
PRICE: From S$79.90 (PS4, version reviewed; PS5)
GENRE: Action adventure
Famous for his detective personality in dramas such as Hero, Kimura reprises his role as Yagami, head of a detective agency, which becomes entangled in the intriguing cases of this sequel.
The story, set in Dec 2021 in the fictional Kamurocho and Ijincho districts of Tokyo, takes place shortly after the events from the first game.
Through his connections, Yagami gets roped in to investigate cases involving students from a high school. It is not necessary to play the prequel, but references to past characters provide depth and continuity to the cast and backstory.
The basics of gameplay is largely similar from its predecessor, with some additions. Exploring areas and completing plot objectives, such as trailing a suspect, return to office or go to location X, earn you credits and points to spend on character upgrades and skills. There are also collectibles to be discovered at every turn.
As a detective, there is much legwork to do. So, expect to be constantly moving from one location to another. By foot, you will be exposed to random encounters and hidden items. Otherwise, you can hail a cab to cut down on travelling time.
A new option to zip around on a skateboard is now available. But its execution is marred by sensitively-mapped buttons, which can cause the skateboard to vanish easily. I recommend switching the settings to allow the map to rotate instead of having it fixed. If not, this might affect your orientation initially.
The main plot dives into a dark reality of bullying, extortion and assault – drawing a thin line between justice and revenge. It does a good job of keeping you engaged from one episode to the next.
+ Engaging perspective
+ Realistic backdrop and character animation
+ Elaborate content
– Some gameplay too QTE-reliant
– Button mapping issues
There are numerous scenes and exchanges which make the experience feel personal and realistic along with opportunities to collect and present evidence during appropriate dialogues.
As with previous titles, the game developer RGG Studio continues to impress with stellar recreation of everyday street life in urban Japan. However, invisible walls are still present. While this is to prevent players from straying out of the zone, it also restricts alternating approaches. Thus, it does bring down on realism by a notch.
Character animation during cutscenes and interaction sequences are exceptional, even on the PS4 Pro where this game was reviewed. At some point, you can select dialogue points to steer the interaction in the right direction. Conversely, you can opt for a comical response just for fun.
Your sleuthing work includes observing an area for clues, studying exhibits, moving around in stealth, tailing around suspects and even performing simple vertical parkour. Some of these activities rely on proper execution of quick-time event (QTE) mechanics. Fortunately, there is no penalty for failure. You can simply retry from the last failed attempt.
As usual, battle encounters are one of the common activities, be it random occurrences or infused as part of the main story. You can switch your fighting style using the Tiger, Snake and Crane martial arts techniques.
You can also unlock advanced active and passive skills to improve your combat repertoire. Not to mention, fantastic animations coupled with flashy and exaggerated moves make combat satisfying. And it continues to be a highlight of this game.
As you play, the Gauntlet mode becomes available. This is a high difficulty mode to test your skill on replaying completed missions with specific parameter conditions. You can also attempt speed runs and take down past bosses. Completing them will earn you better rewards.
Getting the Deluxe edition offers more downloadable content (DLC) that provides additional romantic storylines, more recipe extracts for character skills, fur colours for Detective dog pet, access to more classic emulators for 2-player versus mini-games, as well as exclusive skins and location.
It also contains the School Stories expansion pack where you can partake in more fun and challenging school club activities such as riding bikes, boxing and constructing miniature battle robots.
Perhaps, the most anticipated DLC is a story content that features Yagami’s colleague Kaito as a main character. But this is scheduled to be available next year.
The game allows for save data transfers from PS4 to PS5 at no extra cost, but you won’t be able to enjoy this with a physical PS5 game disc.
Lost Judgment looks to be another celebrated outing and worthy sequel of the Yazuka series. This is especially true if you are a big fan of renowned celebrity Takuya Kimura, who coincidentally is enjoying a television spotlight on Oct 11.