Name: Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise
Developer: Ryu ga Gotoku Studios
Released: 02.10.2018 (08.03.2018 JP)
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided by a publisher for review purpose
When I got requested to review this game, I had no idea what this was or what to expect. All I knew was that the makers of the Yakuza series are responsible for the development. It was later I realized that Fist of the North Star is a Japanese manga series, with even animated television series that was being aired in the 80’s. But since I’m born over 10 years after its golden years, it might not come as a surprise I haven’t heard about it. But here we are, ready to review the game Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise.
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise starts with Kenshiro wandering, seeking the truth about the death of his love Yuria. With rumors of a childhood friend of his, responsible for the murder takes Kenshiro to the City of Eden seeking the truth. One of the inspirations to Kenshiro was Max from the Mad Max films. And that is noticeable, with the story taking place in a dystopian future with gangs making hell for the general population. So while Kenshiro is trying to fix his personal issues, he also helps the city solving their problems. What makes Kenshiro special is his martial art skills known as Hokuto Shinken. He knows which vital points to strike on the human body to cause all manner of effects. I will talk more about it later, but trust me, it gets weird. If you are like me, never heard about or read about Fist of the North Star, then you don’t have to worry about not understanding what is happening and who everyone is. They have done a great job making it approachable for newcomers, but of course, fans of the series get the most of it. It is a new story entirely, with more than enough information about who, what, when and you name it. The pacing was a bit slow in the beginning but worked as a tutorial getting to know the systems of the game. But it took a couple of hours before the game opened itself up, so if you only play the beginning it might feel a bit repetitive. 7/10
Lost Paradise doesn’t use the more recent Dragon engine employed on Yakuza 6, and the difference shows. It’s not quite as sharp visually, although the cel-shaded anime look and detailed spaces make up for it. The game looks fantastic, capturing Hara’s character designs well while building environments that feel lived in. It’s also brilliantly cinematic, with cutscenes and even basic dialogue exchanges framed in the most dynamic ways possible. As said earlier, I haven’t seen anything from Fist of the North before. But, it looks like the graphics have done the manga justice. Fights are colorful and over-the-top with “things” spraying everywhere, and creative visuals. There were some frame drop issues when many things happened at the same time, but overall it all was smooth. PlayStation 4 Pro obviously runs better, although I played on a regular PS4 it wasn’t too bad in comparison.
For those familiar with the Yakuza series, will see many similarities in the gameplay. The Yakuza fighting system is known to be exceptionally well-balanced, but the improvements here are simply stunning. Kenshiro is incredibly strong, but instead of shying away from that and finding a device to cripple him in some way, the developers have leaned into it. The player starts out OP and just gets stronger from there. To unleash power attacks, all the player has to do is hit an enemy enough times to weaken their resolve, then a single button press can put them into ‘shock’ state where they’re vulnerable to instant-kill attacks. Bosses are still a challenge, of course, but the game does an exquisite job of making it feel like Ken is a terrifying monster in combat. Almost pornographically violent, FotNS takes the basic Yakuza fighting system and adds gore x10. Kenshiro is the master of a martial arts style that uses acupressure to manipulate the human body, on one hand, it can cure almost any illness. On the other, it can cause the human head to explode like an overripe melon blasted by a shotgun, and Ken does a lot more of the latter than he does the former.
And I must say it felt good to be the one that kicked the most ass, taking on over 20 guys without breaking a sweat. But besides the fighting, the game is an open world, with side-quests and other activities to do. There is also some driving, but how well that part is made is questionable. It looks like they aimed for an environment that you want to explore every inch of the map, but at times it’s too big so it can feel a bit empty at times. But you should definitely explore to find all the mini-games and side-quests since they are both fun and also expands the play time with several hours.
FotNS offers tight and responsive fighting control, you create combos by mixing together light and heavy attacks. While also performing a technique when the time is right, known as striking a hidden channeling point. These deal a huge amount of damage while looking incredibly flashy in the process. Besides that, you’ll be building up a meter with every punch and kick, which when full allows you to enter Burst Mode. With the damage you deal significantly boosted, you’ll be taking out tougher foes in no time, while Destiny Talismans act as abilities you can activate in certain situations. The fighting is tight, but unfortunately, the camera controls have some issues. Choosing which one to attack, camera getting stuck and not see enemies behind you or behind objects who suddenly attacks you. It can be annoying at times, but the fighting makes up for it.
FotNS contain hours of content and with possibilities to upgrade your character and his abilities to make him even stronger. But what more is there to do after completing the story? Well as I mentioned earlier, side-quests and mini-games. But there is also a new-game-plus mode where all your upgrades, abilities and level transfer over. But if you play this for the story, and doing some of the side stuff for fun then there isn’t much more to get from the game. But it’s a nice experience that if a fan of the genre you should play through it.
Replay Value 7
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise might feel like a reskin of the Yakuza series, but deep down it got much more to offer. There are some similarities, but it might offer something a bit different. They have managed to make a game that suits both fans of its source material, but also newcomers to the series. It delivers satisfying fighting, with more than enough things to fight against. It was a bit slow, to begin with, but after some hours it really opened up and gave a completely different experience.
- Great fighting
- Fun story
- Approachable for newcomers
- Slow start
- Camera issues