Lost Judgment Is the Best Crime Thriller on PS Plus Right Now
This sprawling brawler has a little something for everyone.
The metaverse is a lot like America. People keep discovering it, even though plenty of other people have already been there. Zuckerberg’s utopia of meetings aside, the real action has been in gaming for a while. Roblox is the unquestioned frontrunner when it comes to scale, boasting millions of active users and a world of boundless possibility. Except for the look. Bootleg Lego vibes don’t scream immersion. When it comes to how we want a metaverse to feel, you need look no further than the streets of Kamurocho.
Kamurocho, a facsimile of the real-world Kabukicho in Tokyo, is the frequent playground for Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios’ famed Yakuza franchise. In 2018 the studio used it as a setting for a new game, Judgment. Fans flocked to the title thanks to its beautiful brawling, outrageous side missions, and flawless setting. A sequel, 2021’s Lost Judgment, just hit PS Plus. It improves on its predecessor in every conceivable way, and adds another painstakingly detailed locale, Yokohama-inspired Ijincho, to serve up one of the grittiest crime dramas you’ll find in any verse.
Like all good crime thrillers, Lost Judgment starts with a dead body. A rotting corpse turns up in a warehouse. Spooky! In true RGG fashion, this shock opener quickly gives way to a recap then a cut scene to introduce us to protagonist Takayuki Yagami, a private investigator and head of his own detective agency. The story, full of plot twists and melodrama, unfolds through a lot of long cutscenes, copious amounts of side quests, frequent street fights and a heavy dash of absurd characters.
You don’t need to follow every beat of the story to have a good time though. The real draw for casual and returning players is a frenzied combat system that anchors the action. Combat will be familiar to Yakuza fans. Yagami has three fighting styles you can use. A kick-heavy Crane style for crowd control, a powerful Tiger style for one-on-one encounters, and a Snake style full of counters and defense that’s perfect for disarming enemies with weapons. As you progress through each style you'll earn points to unlock more complex and devastating combos and moves.
Exploration is also encouraged by way of the studio’s trademark side quests and activities. You can play mahjong, go to batting cages, visit arcades full of Sega classics (RGG is part of Sega, after all), play darts, race drones, and even visit a casino. When Yagami’s investigation takes to him to the local high school you’ll get access to a ton of content there too from side quests to dancing minigames. There’s even a Mystery Club that puts Yagami’s detective skills to the test.
You’ll do plenty of investigating outside of school stories too. One of the biggest differences between Lost Judgment and its Yakuza forefathers are the investigation sequences where Yagami uses a combination of stealth, observation, and gadgets to uncover clues. There’s even a handful of disguises to unlock that will help you blend in as you tail suspects and look for evidence. Traversing Ijincho is a game unto itself once you unlock the skateboard, too.
Lost Judgment is as good as crime gets on PS5. Be warned though, the lighthearted, often silly minigames and sidequests are countered by some dark plot lines. There’s bullying, suicide, even sexual assault. RGG does just enough to keep the balance from tipping too hard one way or the other, but depending on your pacing, you may go from goofy to gory with little transition in between. When it comes to uncovering the truth, you should expect the unexpected.