Describing The Kaito Files as a bite-sized Yakuza story may feel redundant, given that Lost Judgment draws heavy inspiration from its predecessor. But it includes content some Yakuza fans may missed in the Judgment series. While the same procedural crime drama elements are still present in this spin-off, Kaito’s connection to the underground and the yakuza take centerstage. This DLC feels more personal as a result, as it fleshes out Kaito’s background. However, this may come as a detriment to those who may be burned out on the series.
The Kaito Files begins with a bang. Players are immediately introduced to what will be the crux of the story, which is locating a woman who was presumed dead. Cases like this are par for the course for the Judgment series, and the more unbelievable elements of the story are easier to swallow for it. Kaito accepts the case and investigates the disappearance and suicide of Mikiko Natsume. The DLC immediately clues the player into their past relationship and Kaito’s closeness to her. At moments during the DLC story, players are given a glimpse into his fraught past and how his ties to the yakuza ultimately strained his relationship with Mikiko. It makes for a predictable, but sad, story.
It’s what fans will potentially expect. That doesn’t make it bad. The narrative is gripping when it needs to be, and Kaito’s relationship with Mikiko’s son is endearing. He serves as a mentor figure to Jun. Jun is young and inexperienced in comparison, as he literally faints after having a knife drawn on him during one of their first interactions. But it serves the overall tone of the narrative well and keeps the story light when it needs to be. Naturally, the DLC has several twists and turns that will keep players at the edge of their seats as they unravel the true mystery surrounding Mikiko’s disappearance and just how tangled the threads around it really are.
The only real issue is that The Kaito Files is more of the same. Yes, the gameplay offers some deviation. Kaito uses a different method of sleuthing out clues with his “primal instincts.” I mean this very literally, as players use his “Primal Ears” and “Primal Eyes” during the investigative elements of gameplay. But players will be going through the same motions of solving the mystery for the most part. The twists and turns may be shocking at first, but predictable if you think about them too long. Several different organizations are at play, with each trying to cover up some connection to Mikiko’s disappearance. One plot twist I could almost smell a mile away, and its execution wasn’t as effective as I’d hoped it would be. It left me feeling a bit lukewarm towards the experience. I can’t elaborate on much, since one thing leads to another in terms of spoilers.
But in terms of combat, it’s exactly what I’d expect when playing as a character like Kaito. Unlike Yagami, Kaito throws brutal punches with the same kind of power as former Yakuza series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu. He has two different fighting styles, with one allowing for players to deal out massive amounts of damage. The other relies on countering enemy attacks to make it effective, but does a good enough job of softening the blows of bosses. This was probably the most enjoyable aspect to me of the DLC. While I enjoyed my time with Yagami in Lost Judgment‘s main scenario, I like it when a man can throw a mean punch.
Overall, The Kaito Files is more of the same. Those who were looking for something different from the main scenario may be pleased, as Kaito has enough variation in his gameplay to set him apart from Yagami. But if you’re looking for something more compelling or different from other Ryu Ga Gotoku narratives, then you may be a bit disappointed. That isn’t to say The Kaito Files isn’t worth your time. It’s a nice, bite-sized experience and will no doubt fill the gap stories like Yakuza: Like a Dragon and Yakuza Kiwami 2 have left behind in the hearts of series fans.
Lost Judgment and its The Kaito Files DLC are available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X.