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Lost Judgment

What We Learned (And Didn’t Learn) About Lost Judgment From Toshihiro Nagoshi Himself

Judgment, the 2018 spin-off in the Yakuza franchise, took a dark noir detective story in the fictional Japanese city of Kamurocho and injected it with the series’ trademark mix of combat, narrative and ridiculous mini-games to great results. After recently releasing an updated version of the game for the new generation of consoles, fans have been teased with the potential of a sequel through tiny snippets of footage posted on developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s own social media over the last week or two.

The day has come though, for all to be revealed, and the curtain has been lifted on Lost Judgment, a full sequel and continuation of Yagami and Kaito’s story set to release on current and previous generation consoles. It’ll also be the studio’s first true global launch, coming to all regions simultaneously on September 24, 2021 in nine languages. With Judgment Day upon us and the game shown off to the world we’ve been able to put together a rundown of just what to expect from Lost Judgment, complete with comments from series creator Toshihiro Nagoshi who was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about the upcoming sequel.

STORY/SETTING

Taking place a little while after the events of the first game, Lost Judgment sees Takayuki Yagami enjoying life as a low-key private detective again, investigating a serial bullying case at a local high school, before being dragged back into a high-profile murder case by his old friends at Genda Law Office. What starts as a case concerning an alleged train groping incident sees the accused, a police officer named Akihiro Ehara, suddenly announce his involvement in a murder in Ijincho three days prior – precisely when footage shows him fleeing the scene of the sexual assault he stands trial for. Despite the murder still being unannounced, Ehara is able to name the victim and admits to holding him responsible for the suicide of his son four years prior.

Understanding that this unusual turn of events will likely lead to more questions than answers, Ehara’s defendant and Yagami’s former colleague, Saori Shirosaki, requests his help to figure out how Ehara could have committed two crimes at once and just what his involvement in the murder case really is. Lost Judgment promises another riveting tale that’ll see its key players – the prosecution, detectives, public security, the Yakuza and even a high school – tangled together in a revenge story that’ll further challenge Yagami’s own sense of justice.

Lost Judgment

The original Judgment was notable for having a far-darker tone that the bulk of the mainline Yakuza series, and if the setup to this new narrative is anything to go by it seems RGG Studio is keen to double down on that for the sequel. We mentioned this to Nagoshi-san, who agreed that from both a storytelling and visual standpoint the grittier, darker feel is essential to the Judgment games’ identity.

“This is great to hear, because that is exactly what we were aiming for. We thought it was essential to building a suspenseful and heavy atmosphere with a bit of horror-like touches to the visuals. Our shading techniques and other aspects of the game have evolved as well, so we hope you will be able to feel the improvement in our skills.”

Lost Judgment

One huge takeaway from the game’s reveal is of course the fact that Yagami (along with Kaito-san of course!) is working across both his original location in Kamurocho as well as the Ijincho district in Yokohama that was introduced in the most recent Yakuza game, Like A Dragon

“Players can mostly come and go freely. The game was designed in this way to allow players to immerse themselves in the drama while ensuring a certain degree of freedom”, Nagoshi-san confirmed when we asked if players can expect to travel between the two locations at will during the game’s story.

GAMEPLAY/COMBAT

On top of pushing its narrative forward, Lost Judgment will also expand on the more unique aspects of the original’s gameplay and the ways it separates itself from the rest of the Yakuza franchise. Naturally this means that Yagami’s detective skills have been given a boost, with certain mechanics being expanded on as well as enhanced traversal mechanics that see him perform more acrobatics than ever such as climbing, jumping and other parkour-esque feats.

“We’ve made many changes, but one major example is that we’ve drastically improved the “tailing” system. Yagami is a detective, of course, so we really wanted to include this element. The original Judgment was well-received, but feedback suggested that we needed to re-work “tailing,” so our improvements are a direct result of this feedback”, notes Nagoshi-san.

“A typical example of this is the addition of athletic movements that allow you to explore your environment in a more three-dimensional way. Of course, we know that not every player is a hardcore gamer, and this series isn’t the type of game that requires intense mastery to enjoy, so we have balanced the game in a way that that all players can enjoy the thrilling experience stress-free.”

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It’s not just his own abilities that’ll see an uplift either, as Yagami takes to the streets with an expanded arsenal of tools to help him infiltrate, investigate and incapacitate. Stealth will play a part in intruding on enemy territory and subduing enemies safely, and Yagami’s reclusive hacker buddy, Tsukumo, is back with even more tech to back him up. There’s even a clue-sniffing canine! Nagoshi-san was hesitant to delve into any further detail, but we can expect more to come.

“We can’t reveal everything yet, but we have plenty of interesting gadgets in the works. We’ll be sharing more information when we can, so please stay tuned.”

Lost Judgment

Of course, combat is still a big part of the series despite the difference in Yagami being a detective versus the mainline titles’ Yakuza protagonists. The original game had players freely switching between two distinct fighting styles – Crane style for dealing with multiple enemies and Tiger style for one-on-one encounters – and Lost Judgment will add a third option in Snake style. This new fighting style is more about subjugation than inflicting harm, allowing Yagami to redirect his opponents’ attacks and stand them down mercifully. We asked Nagoshi-san how this plays into Yagami’s character and what the Snake style adds to the game, and his answer makes a whole lot of sense:

“In this game the two original battle styles, “Tiger,” which is effective in one-on-one combat, and the “Crane,” which is effective against multiple opponents, have been further enhanced. A third style, “Snake,” is introduced. This style is similar to Aikido, an ancient Japanese martial arts style where the practitioner aims to defend oneself without injuring the assailant. Much of the game is set at a high school, and there are going to be some delinquent students who want to throw down.You can choose your own battle style, but if you don’t like the idea of using your full power against students, Snake style is the merciful option.”

NEW GEN SUPPORT

Given that RGG Studio has fully embraced the new generation of consoles with ports of Yakuza: Like A Dragon and Judgment to both new platforms, it’s not surprising to see that Lost Judgment is likewise coming to PS5 and Xbox Series S/X. It’s nice to see that the game is still headed to the PS4 and Xbox One as well, giving everyone the opportunity to continue Yagami’s story. We asked Nagoshi-san how Judgment’s visual style has both benefited from the studio’s work on Yakuza as well as how it differs, and what owners of the more powerful consoles can expect from the game.

Lost Judgment

“Both games use our original Dragon engine, but the texture of the screen is more realistic than that of the Yakuza series, with a touch of film-like feel. We think this effect is more apparent in the suspenseful scenes. We developed this technique by working on the Yakuza series for so long, and Lost Judgment has benefited from that.

“Of course, high-end hardware promises better resolution and framerate for a very smooth experience overall. The content of the game itself is the same on all platforms, but if you want a more comfortable and high-fidelity experience, we recommend playing on a next-gen console.”

ACTIVITIES

Lost Judgment also looks to continue the series penchant for offbeat minigames and diversions, perhaps pushing it even further than before. We see Yagami engaged in a wild, wide array of activities from boxing to remote control robot combat, to motorcycle races to high school dance club and even skateboarding. The thought of hitting the streets of Kamurocho and Ijincho on a skateboard has to be about the stupidest, greatest thing ever. While he’s undercover at the high school in Yokohama (another absurd and fantastic concept in itself), Yagami will engage in a new type of sub quest called School Stories, which will feature a lot of the new activities we’ve seen.

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But with the presentation over and our few, brief questions answered, we felt there was something still missing from the mix that we needed to know about. Tell us, Nagoshi-san, will Yagami finally get the chance to enjoy some karaoke in Lost Judgement?

“No comment.”

Huge thanks to RGG Studio and Toshihiro Nagoshi, SEGA and Five Star Games for this early glimpse into the game.

Lost Judgment is coming to PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One on September 24, 2021. Check out the full reveal trailer below:

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