Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise - Post-Launch Game Review
Destiny's Chaos Child
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: October 2nd 2018
A Yakuza game taking place in the apocalypse where you play as a character skilled in mysterious and deadly martial arts enough to take armies of thousands in a bid against time to save your lover? Well count me in because Lost Paradise pretty delivers in full cylinders. Fist of the North Star is the spin-off you never thought you'd want to play, but you should.
Visually it is the least appealing Ryu Ga Gotoku game released somewhere in mid gen, but at times it can miraculously pull of some stellar visual moments with water effects and stunning lighting renders. Lip animation during conversation can look odd and a bit stiff, but body movement is where it's all at during combat sequences.
While some people might get tired of playing the Yakuza games over and over(though that's shouldn't be the case with the mainline Yakuza series), there's a lot of variety deeply embedded into the game mechanics, keeping you busy for hours to come. In fact, there's over 100hrs worth of content to explore if your incentive is to go all the way.
You play as the titular star of Hokuto Shinken, Kenshiro in his quest to reunite with his lover Yuria after she was taken away by Shin. As you venture into the vacant wasteland desert, you find a city called Eden run by the lady herself, Xsana(pronounced Kih-Sana) and with her help, restore Yuria's dwindling health.
Lost Paradise begins its main narrative from the 2nd act of the Fist of the North Star arc with returning casts while replacing it with new locations and new characters. Introduced for the sake of the game, they fit in with the entire lore, adding much needed weight to the story. There are many moments of levity and charm that'll hold you even if weren't a fan of the anime series itself. The writing also brings brevity as well as the melodrama Hokuto No Ken has been known for.
But then again, it is still a Yakuza game under the FotNS skin and main narrative. Most of the substories around this game's world are similar to the aforementioned, sometimes with a more different spin to them mixing in with FotNS lore itself. Am sure fans of the franchise will like playing this, maybe more so than any of the other games.
Lost Paradise offers some crazy brawler combat. There have been games of this before, but not the caliber that Ryo Ga Gotoku offers. One minute you're pounding gangs of outlaws or miscreants with your fists of furious vengeance, the next you're the manager of a nightclub hosting several girls to earn back the money you owe to the state fund of Eden. It gets bonkers from here.
You have light and heavy attacks to use in combo, secret technique(the most important part of the game) to use only if enemy are in chance state. Burst mode for increased strength and use of more secret techniques. Block and dodge used for avoiding attack and damage(dodge can be used as jump attacks in burst mode).
As you progress through the game by receiving Destiny Points, you earn different orbs for unlocking skills and passives. The combat seems simple at first, as you progress, there's lot more added on top of these mechanics with new abilities, new combos, secret techniques and so on. Even if it feels cumbersome to move through the skill trees in order to find the one you want or need.
There's a lot of places to pick fights, from the Colosseum, outskirt desert to the streets with thugs and outlaws. Helpful mostly for practice and mastering your techniques. Winning fights get you money, items, heck even treasure maps to find stuff in the wasteland but only at time limits. Fighting against rounds of thugs in the Colosseum earn you points to spend on ingredients while fighting 1v1 opponents grant you rarities for use cases.
Then there's the Destiny talismans, these, once equipped, allow you to use various moves like forcing an enemy on stun for special technique use or earning IDL currency on every hit for a remainder of time. Getting hold of these Talisman requires that you meet or defeat certain individuals in the main storyline, you can also unlock them by spending resources collected after visiting a Talisman shop. There you can refine, enhance or reset the timer of when it was used. These Talismans are mostly used in tough situations like large group fights or boss battles.
Inventory management is also an integral part of the game where you manage your items from consumables to equipment. Consumables will replenish your health, some will grant you extra star points for burst mode, more orbs, and other bonus attributes. Equipment is what you need to increase your main stats. I mean you can be badass all you want pulling sick moves with ridiculous health bars, but you take every help you can to better yourself with higher stats.
Of course, while the main components of the game are filled to the brim with action packed moments, this wouldn't be a RGG game without minigames and sidequests. Yes, throughout the denizens of Eden, you meet up with different people, converse with them and help them out on their plight within these meaningful sidestories, some of them are connected to the main deuteragonists of the game. The minigames on the other hand, they're just fun chores to play with. Like you can play bat swing with motorcyclist gangs, be a nightclub manager, bartender, bounty hunter, etc. These are just more side content that gets better as you progress further doing the jobs in higher rank and earning more pay.
There's so much, choke full of minigames that you'll want to spend more time playing them rather than the main game itself, which would take you over 30hrs to complete give or take, but the rest of the game has you a lot more.
You can even drive and upgrade your buggy for race courses or exploring the desert wasteland. Conserving fuel is necessary as you get game over once it runs out. Exploring keeps you occupied with time limit race to get your treasures, fights against bigger cavalries of thugs, finding new race tracks, finding save points and using them for fuel, game saving and fast travelling.
And lastly, boss battles. Who wouldn't want boss battles in this game? There's plenty of that. They will test your mantle, all your fighting experience into the foray. They get rightfully challenging, forcing the player to adapt or change their strategy. They can even get wacky.
Mowing down baddies is a lot of fun, especially when you can live and fight as the North Star himself, waging war against the masses of scum in the wasteland. Throwing sick combos and cooking up burger patties. Possibilities are endless. This is the best Yakuza spin-off no one asked for, yet here it is. Albeit with few small drawbacks of course, like target locking or the camera on small occasions.
Both the artstyle and graphical strengths are pretty weak, with cut dried texture art, low res character models and a bit wonky animation. There were surprising moments like fountains spewing water or fire effects looking upto date. In hindsight, the presentation overall is less than stellar.
Lost Paradise sounds like a late 90s beat em up game with updated audio quality and that's great because it adds to the charm of the game being that it is a Fist of the North Star licensed game. The soundtrack is phenomenal, anything that offers great Japanese OSTs is worth looking into.
This game at the time it got released, barely got any traction and that's sad considering this was the one Yakuza game that went complete balls to the wall and offer something more extravagant with its already stellar formula.
Now that the main series is taking a much different direction, into the strategy area more of. It's a good time to revisit this game and go haywire.