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Despite being a Lost Judgment expansion, The Kaito Files feels more like a Yakuza entry that features a love story arc that the avid fans of the long-running series are quite familiar with. It’s not filled with side chores that the RGG series is well-known for and takes a story-focused approach with its 7-8 hours long campaign. Also, It’s unlike anything that the studio has done with its previous entries, wrapping itself in a nice plot armor to avoid the tragic outcomes that any Yakuza fan might be well-aware of.

A Personal Tale of Long Lost Love

The Kaito files takes Yagami out of the picture to tell a personal tale of Kaito-san surrounding his ex-girlfriend Mikiko Sadamoto and her son Jun who claims to be his son. Together with Jun, Kaito goes on a mission to find Mikiko who presumably faked her death two years ago. It also presents us with a glimpse of Kaito’s days in the Matugane Family – a third-tier subsidiary of the now-dissolved Tojo clan. 

Overall the campaign does manage to deliver a compelling story but it barely capitalizes on the familiar faces we all know and love from the Judgment entries. Characters like Mari, Shirosaki, Hoshino, and Higashi barely have any screen-time.  This could have been a golden opportunity for a budding bromance between Higashi and Kaito but the expansion takes a U-train heading straight into a love story arc which is quite reminiscent of the Kiryu-Yumi and Haruka saga from Kiwami.

Another issue that arises within the campaign is the short length of the flashbacks from Kaito’s life 15-17 years ago. Dedicating separate chapters to these flashbacks could have fleshed out the past relationship between Kaito and Mikiko. Thankfully, the campaign makes up for it by emphasizing the Father and Son dynamic of Jun and Kaito.

The campaign also struggles a bit due to the plot-armored Mikiko who shares a reminiscent persona with Yasuko from Yakuza 4. But in service of one of the happiest-ever endings, it can easily be overlooked. In the plethora of open and tragic endings that Ryu-Ga-Gotoku is known for, this feels like a refreshing entry that we haven’t seen since the series’ inception in 2005.

Brawls Like Kiryu and Tanks like Saejima

The biggest highlight of Kaito Files is its combat and the boss battles. Kaito has two notable fighting styles – The Bruiser and The Tank. The Bruiser feels like a refined version of Kiryu’s brawler style that beautifully embodies the parry system from Yagami’s Snake style. However, it’s not that effective when taking on multiple enemies head-on. That’s where the Saejima-inspired Tank fighting system comes into play.

Tank makes impeccable use of environmental objects and can turn the odds in your favor in claustrophobic spaces. This fighting style is quite effective when comes to block breaks and dealing damage to multiple enemies at once. Seamless switching between both styles gives Kaito the extra edge that he needs over his enemies. 

Both the fighting styles feature their own move-sets and special abilities that you use in the EX mode. As you progress through the campaign, you would be able to unlock about 70% of these by spending the required amount of SP. The remaining few can be unlocked by collecting Matsuagne Family Crests which puts Kaito’s Primal Detective Senses to the test.

The Primal Detective

Unlike Yagami, Kaito-san needs no gadgets or a detective dog to do his chores. His Primal senses make him a part dog and eagle. His primal eye allows him to see the minute details, his nose, and ears allow him to sniff and hear like a dog.

Still, the detective sequences are by far the weakest part of the game. Despite the differences between Yagami and Kaito, these sections are more or less the same as the base game. Even the tailing and chasing sequences remain the same except for the fact that Kaito shoves people aside by charging like a bull, unlike Yagami who just hops over them. At the end of the day, it’s just something you will have to deal with no matter what.

Back To Kamurocho

Unlike the base game, this expansion mainly restricts itself to the city of Kamurocho. In addition to that, there are no side cases featured in it. This makes the whole city feel quite a bit under-utilized. This could have been a great opportunity to take a peek into the Post-Tojo era of Kamurocho by allowing the players to interact with the tenants of well-known places like the Serena, Sky Finance, and Earth Angel. 

On the plus side, there are subtle references to the series previous entries and Kamurocho looks good as ever though it’s no longer has the vibe of being the series’ primary city that has evolved over all these years. 

Real Talk

Despite its numerous shortcomings, lack of side activities, and plot-armored love story, The Kaito Files manages to deliver a finale that feels like a refreshing change of pace in Ryu-Ga-Gotoku’s sister series. It’s not as compelling as the Yagami or Kiryu Saga but it is enough to establish Kaito as a standalone protagonist. Considering its current price tag, you should pick it up while it is on sale or buy the season pass to make the most out of it.

In-Game Screenshots:

Disclaimer: Code provided by publisher for the purpose of a review with no riders.

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