Lost Judgment juggles a lot and fumbles most of it

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A rotting corpse has not been discovered in an abandoned building in Isezaki Ijincho, Yokohama. Meanwhile, a police officer is on trial for sexual harassment in Tokyo. During Lost Judgement, Takayuki Yagami of the Yagami Detective Agency slowly discovers how these two events are linked. The sequel to the Yakuza spin-off Judgement presents an all-new narrative that seeks to move the series forward and build on its solid foundation as a legal drama. Sadly, Lost judgment falls into the same narrative traps as the genre from which it is directly inspired, losing the strength of its central message in favor of unnecessary twists and turns.

Lost judgment is a slow burn that requires patience on the part of the player. The plot does not pick up again until after five to six hours of slow-paced investigation into the two interconnected crimes. Eventually, innocuous details turn into their own individual plot threads that come together in an explosive finale. This is what anyone familiar with the Yakuza series, or Judgement, would wait.

As the story unfolds, however, it becomes more and more complex as most Japanese dramas do, to the point that it becomes too complicated. Ultimately, these story threads come together in a comprehensive conspiracy to address the systemic problem of bullying in Japanese school systems, but it is plagued by an obvious lack of focus. Lost judgment Also adds the involvement of criminal organizations into the mix, which is more like something that had to be done purely because of its ties to the Yakuza series.

Lost Judgment protagonist Takayuki Yagami takes martini with young woman

Image: Sega / Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio

Regarding his most sensitive subject – the representation of sexual harassment – Lost judgment fumbles and often fails in spectacular fashion. One specific case effectively undermines victims of sexual harassment who report abuse, all for the fun of it. Moreover, while Lost judgment does not hide the fact that extremely serious topics will be discussed and serve as built-in plot points, players may not be aware of how these aspects will be graphical. A video depicts a serious case of abuse that includes sexual assault against a minor; it is shown in detail once, then clips from the video are shown again several times. Since it is viewed as evidence, players use it throughout the overall investigation to elicit responses from various parties involved. It seems excessive, inappropriate and unnecessary. The story of Lost judgment could have moved forward without showing the video at all, and it would still have examined the issue of systematic harassment in Japan – there are many points throughout the story where the characters provide statistics on the abuse, as well as the inaction of the justice system and its inability to take sides with these victims.

When it comes to the game’s treatment of women, it seems oddly more regressive than previous Ryu ga Gotoku Studio titles. Women are relegated to two specific roles in the story of Lost judgment – the victim or the aggressor, with no middle ground or any kind of character development to make them anything other than vehicles of the plot. While some of the stories feel extremely real and likable – particularly the first instance of bullying players encountered at Seiryo High – these characters are quickly put to the side and only reappear when it suits the plot.

The game’s debut breaks its most serious detective drama plots with the sudden inclusion of absurd side stories. One instant you are on a rooftop talking to a teacher about how a student committed suicide due to school inaction, and the next you are forced to walk a dog with a talent for detective intuition around Izesaki Ijincho. It sounds like a full tonal boost, and something Lost judgment could do without.

The protagonist of Lost Judgment Takayuki Yagami on a skateboard

Image: Sega / Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio

Fortunately, surveys are much easier and simpler than they were in Judgement, as stealth mechanics and escape targets have largely been relegated to side stories. There are a few examples of these game mechanics appearing in the main story, but not enough to be meaningful or particularly irritating. Most of the investigative action in the main story is done through sightings, or simply chasing your target and pinning them to the ground to gain information.

There are plenty of optional activities, and Lost judgment lends itself well to a piece of virtual tourism. Kamurocho and Ijincho look incredible, with each city showcasing their own distinct landmarks and attractions. Sub-stories and mini-games are available in both locations, although Ijincho offers more abundant activities, including school stories – unique side cases that feature Yagami interacting with the students of Seiryo High to solve. mysteries or even help the dance club create new routines. While a standard portion of the game’s main story takes around twenty hours, players will get at least ten more or more if they’re looking to complete every piece of content available.

The graphics are also a huge step up from the first title, with the PlayStation 4 version of Lost judgment almost as beautiful as the PlayStation 5 reissue of Judgement. The character models are beautifully rendered, and even the characters that aren’t modeled after actors exhibit similar attention to detail. This creates a completely immersive experience, with some photographs taken with the in-game camera phone looking like real snapshots of the towns of Ijincho and Kamurocho except for the crowds. This is arguably one of the best things about Lost judgment, because it shows how spectacular games can still look on the PlayStation 4.

Lost Judgment protagonist Takayuki Yagami engages in flashy combat moves against a group of street tough guys

Image: Sega / Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio

The fight has also intensified since Judgement, with a third fighting style added to the mix. This new style, dubbed the Snake style, features a concentrated burst of hits and not only adds more diversity to combat, but also works great for countering enemies. I mainly used the Snake style while playing the game, not only for its utility, but because it was accompanied by a stellar music track when selected as the primary method. Players can still freely switch between styles during combat, which helps build momentum with the flashy EX finishes and incredibly smooth transitions between kicks and punches. Even those slight adjustments to Lost judgmentThe standard action-RPG battles keep the fights interesting in the long run, even if you are bombarded with waves of enemies late in the game.

There is so much to do in Lost judgment, both to its advantage and to its detriment. The story was so swollen by the time it reached its climax that I was relieved to see it come to an end. In the end, it’s another case of one step forward, two steps back for Ryu ga Gotoku Studio, just like Yakuza: like a dragon and its presentation of current issues in Japan. Although Lost judgment tries to open up a conversation about bullying and sexual harassment, these themes end up taking a back seat in favor of the bombastic drama. Lost judgment succeeds in emulating a Japanese legal drama, but it’s a mediocre drama that would have benefited from a smaller scope, or at least, a better understanding of what it is trying to comment on.

Lost judgment will be released on September 24 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X. The game has been tested on PlayStation 4 using a pre-download code provided by Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find further information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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