A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
While the martial arts combat is glamorized, it typically results in injury rather than death. Cases often get dark, and involve suicide, sexual harassment, and bullying in a school setting. These issues are handled delicately, with characters taking the time to discuss how to proceed carefully and protect victims both physically and emotionally. Positive narrative themes include friendship, helping folks in need, and defending what's right. But there are some privacy issues, as the group's detective work involves spying.
Positive Role Models
Yagami is a private detective seeking justice for victims in a variety of cases. He's a good, generally law-abiding guy who always wants to do the right thing, but he doesn't suffer fools. He has no qualms using his considerable martial arts skills to beat up thugs and suspects who pose a threat to him, his friends, and his clients. That said, he stops short of killing, and even occasionally tries to offer former enemies some good advice about changing their ways.
The action is set in Japan, and the vast bulk of characters are Japanese. Players can choose to leave the dialogue in the original Japanese and read subtitles. Several women and teenaged girls are portrayed as smart and capable, holding positions of authority, though some others are depicted as stereotypically demure.
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Ease of Play
Combat requires a bit of practice, but other elements -- mini-games, detective work, chase scenes -- are pretty straightforward, with the player needing do little more than follow directions. Multiple difficulty levels allow players to set an appropriate level of challenge, and the easiest setting makes it pretty tough to lose.
Violence & Scariness
Third person combat is focused on kung fu fighting, with players in control of a private detective who regularly gets into fistfights with thugs. His bone-crunching punches and kicks land hard, but he stops short of killing. Unconscious enemies typically just disappear. But foes come at him with weapons including knives, chainsaws, and guns, meaning the player character's life is often on the line. A handful of non-interactive scenes show much more brutal and bloody scenes, including a rotting, fly-ridden corpse in a pool of dried blood.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
While there's no outright sex or nudity (save a glimpse of a butt during a fight), characters engage in frank discussions about sex work and sexual assault, talk about getting "groped," and a high school girl is cruelly labeled a slut. The player's character can date, but dates are about romance rather than sex.
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Very strong language appears frequently in text and spoken dialogue, including the words "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," and "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
This is part of the popular, long-running Yakuza series. Some brands appearing within the game are real, including Pepsi-Cola and Carlsberg Beer.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Several scenes set in bars -- including mini-games -- depict characters drinking, getting drunk, and admitting they are intoxicated. The player's character can buy and imbibe alcohol, making him tipsy and prone to stagger. His alcohol tolerance is a skill that can be raised to help him drink more (an aid in certain situations and mini-games). Players can also have him purchase and smoke cigarettes, and several scenes show characters smoking in off-limits places in a school setting.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Lost Judgment is a detective/action game for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. It's set in free-to-explore urban locations in Japan and stars a lawyer-turned-detective named Takayuki Yagami, a master martial artist who uses a mix of street smarts and fisticuffs to discover the truth for his clients. Players spend most of their time investigating -- talking to others, following suspects, taking photographs, and looking for clues -- but occasionally get into frenetic, highly stylized fistfights with bone-crunching melee attacks. Yagami is generally a law-abiding fellow who stops short of killing his attackers, but his enemies use knives, guns, and other weapons in a bid to kill him. Plus, players are exposed to blood and gore in non-interactive scenes, including a dead body covered in flies and maggots. Story themes are mature, with talk of sexual assault, suicide, and bullying in a high school setting. But these issues are handled with some delicacy, the main characters discussing how best to protect victims emotionally and physically before taking action. Players will also encounter frank conversations about dating, sexual assault, and prostitution, with words like "groping" and "slut" appearing in dialogue. Parents should also note that Yagami and other characters smoke and drink to excess, and that certain challenges and achievements involve getting drunk and increasing his alcohol tolerance. Characters frequently use very strong language, including the words "f--k," "s--t," and "d--khead."
Is It Any Good?
You don't need to have played the original Judgment -- or, indeed, any of the Yakuza games -- to easily get into this non-numbered follow-up. Lost Judgment lays out all the franchise history players need (which isn't much) early on, providing relevant information about Yagami's past while organically introducing us to his key associates through the cases he takes. By the time players become enmeshed in the game's major mystery, they'll feel like they know everyone. And they'll probably like most of the main cast, too. They're a ragtag crew of interesting characters who -- unlike some of the morally ambiguous mobsters of the main Yakuza series -- are easy to root for, since their goal is to do right by their friends and clients and serve justice to some clearly bad folks. Even combat, which is gratifyingly cinematic thanks to some creative and unexpected choreography (chopsticks make for remarkably effective weapons), doesn't blemish Yagami's charismatic aura, since, unlike most action game heroes, he aims to subdue rather than kill his opponents, even if they're trying to kill him. In some fights, he simply scares them into submission.
It would have been nice, though, to have a little more freedom of choice in how Yagami's investigations turn out. Trailing suspects, gathering clues, and even foot chases are all very controlled, with players shoehorned into doing specific things to progress or succeed. It feels more like acting out clearly arranged scenes rather than creating them. That said, working through cases -- especially the side stories set in the school -- are still an awful lot of fun, thanks to some great twists and engaging interactions with memorable characters. Yagami and his friends are unusually thoughtful protagonists, and the story doesn't gloss over difficult problems, such as how to help a student coping with unrelenting bullying, but instead makes an effort to understand and deal with these thorny situations in ways that almost seem realistic. Don't be surprised if, as the story builds to its climactic conclusion, you find yourself saddened at the thought of your time spent in this marvelously lifelike world filled with both intrigue and action coming to a close. Lost Judgment is a great option for more mature players looking for something a little off the beaten path.
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