Yakuza 7 has been and gone, with Yakuza 8 still some way off, so that means it’s time for the sleuthing spin-off series Judgement to make a return with Lost Judgement. The first game proved to be a solid effort, proving just how well you can recycle assets into something new that remains engaging. Time to see if the sequel can pull off the same trick!
The Yagami Detective Agency is back, the whole gang reuniting to deal with a minor case of suspected bullying at a Yokohama high school. What starts out as a simple job quickly becomes much more involved when the body of a teacher is found at the school and the man who admits to murdering him also has the perfect alibi! It’s up to Yagami to try and crack the case before the murderer gets away with his crimes and makes a mockery of the justice system. Whilst he’s at it he also needs to start taking his new role as a school guidance councillor seriously as there are other mysteries afoot in the school grounds that could use his skills as a detective.
Lost Judgement follows very much in the pattern of it’s predecessor which means, if you’ve been paying attention, that it does not take the turn-based RPG combat system from Yakuza 7 and instead reverts back to the series' trademark brawling (where it will likely remain, at least until Kiryu eventually reclaims the lead role in the main franchise). Whilst we adored Yakuza 7’s near-perfect system it is admittedly nice to get back to basics here, though it must be said that the newest update hasn’t quite got it all right.
For starters, the development team have finally grasped that the common bicycle is more powerful than a surface-to-air missile in the game and the other objects you can use to clobber enemies into oblivion with aren’t too far behind. Their solution to balancing the problem is...not the most elegant. They basically removed most, if not all, of the items from any encounter with anything approaching a boss and altered all the weapons enemies carry so that they break 99% of the time when the enemy goes down. This leaves you with the standard attacks from your three combat styles most of the time. However, this combat system is also extremely easy to break from pretty much the moment you start playing. Go into the skills menu and unlock the ‘EX Waking Wrath’ skill. Congratulations you have now pretty much beaten the game! The skill lets you perform a special attack for high damage when you’re knocked down and most of the bosses in the game love to do nothing more, so at that point all you need to do is keep stocking up your healing items and wait to be knocked over…
On the other hand, the combat is still really good fun, which is fortunate as you’ll be doing a lot of it beating down everyone from ex-yakuza to unruly students. Alongside this there are the usual mountain of mini games to play. Most of those from Yakuza 7 are ported over (though the go karting is replaced with skateboarding races). These are joined by the return of drone races, VR combat, robot fighting, dancing games and almost a dozen full Master System games to play! With so much to do it’s a wonder you ever get around to finishing the story at all which is a shame because it’s a really solid plot with plenty of nice twists and turns throughout.
There are some issues however. For starters the ‘detective’ elements are still not really all that fun. Having to scan a room for the one little bit you’ve missed is dull and having to present evidence is pointless as there’s no penalty for getting it wrong and the story is linear so you end up basically clicking through menus until you hit the option the game wants. It must also be said that the game really feels lacking in the fun elements that the main Yakuza titles are known for, as most of the plot and side quests are really straight-laced without any of the really off-the-wall or seedier stuff that really makes them fun to go through. It also has to be said that whilst the new skateboard is really great fun it is utterly useless outside Yokohama and the fact that Yagami gets off it at the tiniest provocation is really annoying when you’re just trying to race around and have some fun!
All-in-all then this is ultimately, like it’s predecessor, a solid spin-off entry in the franchise. It scratches a lot of the itches that you’ll have whilst you wait for Yakuza 8’s details, but it won’t exactly fully fill the gap either and by the end of the game you’ll be eager for the next mainline entry to bring you something a bit more fun!