Judgment was one of my top titles this year. While it originally came out in 2019, I played the 2021 PS5 remaster. Its thrilling story, amazing world, and superb gameplay make it well worth playing. The sequel Lost Judgment has a lot to live up to.
So does it? Yes and no. Read on as we follow Yagami back into Kamurocho and the new city in Yokohama.
The main narrative of Lost Judgment revolves around a set of seemingly impossible crimes. A dead body is found. The main suspect has an iron-clad alibi – he was caught on camera with his hand up a young woman’s skirt just before the murder and was in jail! There’s a good reason to suspect him though, as he announced the location of the body in a courtroom. It’s a mystery that detective Yagami has to unravel.
The story from there revolves around a pair of schools. With themes of bullying and suicide, the tone is very serious at times. As the mystery unfolds, we learn more about the characters and the consequences of their actions. There are plenty of twists and it builds up the suspense well – that said, I saw a lot of them coming.
Covering a lot of sensitive topics, I was surprised by how one was handled in particular. It was a twist that I predicted, but one I thought they’d not do due to the reaction some people may have had. I was happy to see that they didn’t shy away from it. Though they did slightly go back on it later in the story.
The main narrative looks at the flaws in the justice system and has some complex moral judgments. It’s very much a criticism of the system in a way but poses the question of when justice is fair. I wouldn’t say that it makes the player think much though, as it certainly takes a clear stance on the issues presented.
It is an intriguing story but wasn’t as gripping as it could’ve been. I felt the pacing was too slow, it required too much time to get into and many of the reveals weren’t as exciting as they could’ve been. I still enjoyed it a lot, but it’s certainly not perfect. The characters who we got to know and love did help to cover for much of this though.
The story was serious overall with some hard-hitting and touching moments. With that said, the dark themes in Lost Judgment were lightened up by plenty of silly moments like a Yakuza attacking you for a limited edition figure, answering a phone during a fight, or chasing UFOs in side-missions.
Connected to but separate from the main narrative are a line of side quests called ‘School Stories’. Yagami starts working with school clubs as part of his investigation. Going through a number of clubs including dancing, robot fighting, skateboarding, and more, he needs to earn the trust of members to resolve cases.
This involves several mini-games. The gameplay loop here is completing games, getting to know the student, and being able to solve small cases. After the case is solved, you then get asked to look into another club.
It’s a nice break from the main game. Some of the mini-games are genuinely fun too. The first one, the dance game felt as good as some smaller rhythm games. They’re all surprisingly well made.
One of the strengths of Lost Judgment is the sheer variety of gameplay. Whether progressing through the story or going off into side-missions, you’ll find yourself mostly running around and using the excellent combat system. It neatly mixes in mechanics such as lockpicking, infiltrating, parkour, and searching with a variety of tools into the normal gameplay though. Occasionally it dips into other modes for tailing people or chasing them.
What I found particularly impressive was how each of these mechanics seems very fleshed out. Infiltration for example lets you sneak about, move between cover points, choose different methods to distract enemies, and take them down from behind. There was even a homage to Metal Gear Solid with a box at one point. All for a mechanic that you only really see a handful of times.
Outside of that, there’s a lot of extras too. A drone racing mode with upgrades to make, classic games to collect and play such as Sonic the Fighters and Alex Kidd, and all the bits already mentioned in School Stories. The gameplay in this title is solid and there’s so much to do that you could spend a good fifty hours exploring it all.
Return of the Old
Several old characters from the original Judgment return in Lost Judgment. As do flashbacks of the events. While I don’t believe you need to play the original to understand Lost Judgment, I’d highly recommend playing it one first if you intend to. Otherwise, you’ll run into a lot of spoilers.
You can wander around the original city of Kamurocho, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near as alive as it did in the original game. The new city in Yokohama suffers from the same. While new elements such as the school stories were brought in and occasional side-missions are around the city, it doesn’t have some mechanics that were in the previous game that made it so alive.
There are no companions to get to know (at least not in the same way!) and only one potential girlfriend to date – unless you own the DLC. Even the one girlfriend is locked away behind a lot of progress and would be easy to miss. I really missed all those side characters.
Bring in the New
While it is lacking in some ways, there have certainly been additions and improvements too. Minor gameplay improvements have been made, such as items being automatically picked up, changes to the tailing mode, and the addition of skateboarding to get around the city faster.
The best addition in my opinion is the snake style of combat. It allows Yagami to switch to a style similar to Aikido. It’s designed to disarm enemies, parry their attacks, and use swift-flowing strikes. While the player is encouraged to switch between styles depending on the situation, I ended up using it the most.
There are plenty of extras too. The Gauntlet gives you some difficult missions, like taking out enemies with specific moves, completing a stealth section quickly, or defeating an overpowered boss.
The graphics are amazing. Facial details stood out in particular, which was amazing for immersion when the characters narrated the story. The amazing voice acting being another factor to that. As with the previous title, it comes with both English and Japanese audio.
Lost Judgment feels like a worthy successor to the original. While I feel it’s a great story, perhaps it doesn’t live up to Judgment as a crime thriller. In its place, it makes notable improvements in gameplay and brings in some new elements. I really enjoyed it, but certainly recommend that you go and play the first title, then come back and play this one.
LOST JUDGMENT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Many thanks goes to SEGA for a PlayStation 5 review code for this title.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.