The Lost Judgment demo takes around an hour to complete. It sets the stage for the story, introduces the key characters, and, most importantly, we can try out some of the new gameplay features of this sequel and get a feel for the combat. But this is where this news piece turns unfortunate for the unaware. The demo is only available in Japan and a handful of other countries. With no release date stated by either Sony or Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. And with the release of the full title in 10 days, I’m afraid the global release of the demo might not happen.
On the gameplay side of things, we start off with a… tailing mission. Looks like those are making a return in strength, despite pretty much all of the first Judgment players being fed up with them. But some issues with the system have been addressed. When a person you are tailing notices you, a prompt appears. And then with a press of a triangle, our detective will enter the mode of “acting casual”. This sounds and looks hilarious. Yagami has different animations in this mode, from tying his shoes to checking himself out in a mirror. The gameplay implication is that you don’t need to follow your target from a mile away because you never know when he will turn around. Now you can strut right behind them, and in the worst-case scenario, the game will rob you of your “acting casual” meter.
This is all fine and dandy, but how does the combat stack up?
Takayuki gets into a fight with some ex-Yakuza during this case, which is a perfect excuse to show off the combat. The crowd-control-oriented Crane Style and the “One-on-One” Tiger Style make their return with tweaks and upgrades. Together with the brand new Snake style, designed for counterattacks and other defensive maneuvers. But sadly, the new addition is missing from the demo. We are probably meant to pick it up some hours into the game, and the demo seems to be set near the beginning of this adventure. What I can say for sure is that combat feels way better in the sequel. The animations are much more fluid, Takas’ moves seem to come out faster. Developers also brought back the ability to bounce enemies off of walls, which has been missing from the Yakuza series since the original trilogy.
But Ryu Ga Gotoku went above and beyond with Lost Judgment are the new EX moves. EX moves are like finishers that consume our meter built up over the course of battle. And this is common knowledge, that Judgment took combos, moves, and these finishers from previous protagonists of the Yakuza franchise. And they stitched them in between the brand new stuff. Namely EX actions against enemies on the ground, some EX actions with weapons, and EX actions when you were laid out on the ground. Those are mostly gone, replaced by completely original moves. This is such a small detail, but it goes a long way.
Then we have stealth, new investigation systems, and parkour. Ex Boost mode empowers all your moves and makes you harder to knock down. So much freshness packed into this one-hour demo. And in the context of the full release, this is just a fraction of the new systems. Not to mention the amazing story that will deal with heavy stuff. Groping, Japan’s conviction rate, and the broken judicial system. This is a fraction of what appears in the demo. But to truly know if the sequel surpasses the first game we have to wait until the 24th of September when the game releases for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.