Lost Judgment: The Kaito Files Review - Expansion Excellence
Updated: Jul 7
The Kaito Files
The Kaito Files is a DLC expansion for Lost Judgment that is entirely focused on Kaito and his backstory. A case involving his almost-fiancée from 15 years ago and a teenager who might be his son pops up while every other character is conveniently occupied, so he's got to take the job by himself. The gameplay that follows isn't anything radically new for the series, but the father figure-son dynamic certainly wasn't in Judgment before and it's a dramatically more focused and efficient story than either of Yagami's main cases.
I got this through the bundle without knowing anything about it and, going in, I was pretty skeptical. Kaito's role in the main games is to be the big dumb idiot who punches things, and his role in Lost Judgment in particular is fairly minimal. Arguably the fact that they'd hardly given him any existing characterization meant he was ripe for this kind of expansion, but at the same time, I doubt there were many people clamoring for it.
Either way, the end result is stunningly successful and tells a story that's easily the best part of the 75-odd hours I spent with Lost Judgment as a whole. Outside of one extremely long block of cutscenes about halfway through, it moves along at a blistering clip to get everything done in four chapters and about 8 hours. It's hard to believe after pacing was one of my main complaints about the base game, but The Kaito Files could hardly have done better in that regard. It's always pulling you along to the next big story event and drops twists and turns at exactly the right times to keep things interesting. I could take or leave another game about Yagami, but I hope RGG finds a way to keep building on this plot line.
A lot of games would sacrifice all of their optional content to achieve that kind of pace, but this finds a good compromise between distractions and forced focus. There are no side quests or new minigames, but there are discoverables all over the map that unlock new skills, items, and brief memories from Kaito's past. Most of these aren't terribly difficult to find, and the rewards are generally satisfying. SP gains have been boosted to almost comical levels to make sure there's little need to grind, so you'll be able to start using those moves quickly. Best of all, there's a bonus boss fight you can access after unlocking every skill. It's nowhere near as over the top as an Amon battle, but it's still a fun reward for doing everything.
Still, it's not all positives. The awful stealth is back for some godforsaken reason. You get a brief QTE to block one hit KOs, at least, but that mostly just serves to emphasize how out of place and pointless the whole system is. I also had a few issues with investigation sections that required highlighting places that were either very small or that blended into the background. These aren't huge issues, but they're noticeable.
The other elephant in the room is that, at $30, it's rather expensive for a DLC that's only 8 hours long and reuses most of its assets. For the Steam release, at least, it's easy to think of it as being a cheaper component of the $99 bundle that contains both Judgment games, but I'd have liked to see both a way to buy it standalone for the current price, since it doesn't depend on Lost Judgment's story at all, and maybe a $15-$20 option for owners of the base game. It's an excellent game despite these issues, but more importantly, it has all the elements of a truly fantastic one if RGG can just get more time for their next release. Here's hoping.
Time to beat: 8.5 hours for 100% completion.
MSRP: $30, but included in the Judgment bundle on Steam.
You can follow my Steam Curator page for more reviews in the future.