Gaming

Lost Judgment Kaito Files DLC reveals 1 surprising thing about the Yakuza series

A much-needed change of pace.

The Yakuza franchise has seen a massive surge in popularity since the release of Yakuza 0 in 2017, followed by a near-yearly release cadence in the West. Judgment is a spinoff series that brings investigative elements to the Yakuza formula. Like the franchise that inspired it, Judgment is built on a weird and wonderful city full of things to do, but the new Lost Judgment DLC, The Kaito Files, strips all that away to tell a smaller character story filled with emotion, and nostalgia.

Even a critically-acclaimed series like Yakuza can start to suffer from fatigue. As much as I enjoyed Lost Judgment, you can see the open-world straining under too many things to do. Yakuza games are starting to feel a little too similar, and even though The Kaito Files has all those those open-world trappings, it pushes players along a singular story track. It also benefits from brilliantly-designed gameplay that centers around its starring character.

The DLC sees Kaito holding down the fort at the Yagami Detective Agency, while Yagami himself is away. A massive case worth 20 million yen falls into his lap — and it’s got some troubling links to Kaito’s own past.

The Kaito Files tells a deeply personal story that still weaves in plenty of intrigue.Sega

Kaito has always been a larger-than-life character. But even from the opening moments, the DLC boldly delves into the man’s emotions, showing the complexity underneath the brash facade. The main story is filled with opportunities to explore his memories of Kamurocho fourteen years ago, even seemingly small events like a bad date at the Kamuro theatre.

It’s a brilliant system that provides a ton of depth for Kaito, but also practically serves as a walk down memory lane for Yakuza fans, who’ve been exploring the fictional riff on Tokyo’s Kabukicho neighborhood since the original Yakuza released in 2005. It’s a simple feature that makes Kamurocho feel more alive and dynamic than before.

There are a wealth of other little details that make the gameplay feel catered to Kaito. His fighting styles are much more aggressive, focused on absorbing hits rather than parrying or dodging. Chase sequences see Kaito simply bowling straight through crowds, and even investigation sequences focus on Kaito’s raw senses, rather than gadgets.

Kaito’s DLC is tailored to make the experience feel unique to the character.Sega

The Kaito Filesruntime also stands out — the whole thing can be completed in roughly seven hours. That tighter focus makes creates a breakneck pacing that keeps things rolling from start to end. Ryu Ga Gotoku has shown countless times that it can tell fantastic character-driven stories, but the pacing of those stories can suffer under dozens of hours of side activities.

The Kaito Files makes a strong case for tighter, more focused experiences set in the Yakuza universe. There’s still plenty of room for the series to create massive worlds and stories, but Kaito’s DLC feels like a massive breath of fresh air nevertheless.

Lost Judgment is available now for PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

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