When starting a new game in Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise an option is given to determine the volume of blood that will flow from enemies. This sets the stage for the anime video game adaptation which bears its ludicrous violence like a well-deserved badge of honor. Based on the manga series of the same name and developed by the Sega studio behind the Yakuza series, Ryu ga Gotoku Studio, Fist of the North Star is a strange mix of genres. It's part superhero game, part beat-em-up, but nearly all bananas (in the very best way).
Fans of the original Fist of the North Star will get the most out of Lost Paradise. However the mounds of previous source material from movies, manga, and series aren't necessary to enjoy the game which separates itself from the source by taking place in an alternate timeline. Many of the characters and the unique setting remain but the events are brand-new. Lost Paradise takes place in a very Mad Max-esque post-apocalyptic world where our very bulky hero Kenshiro is searching for his long lost fiance. This premise doesn't create the most unique of games but there's something very compelling (and crazy) about Lost Paradise all the same.
The Yakuza franchise provides a good base for understanding Fist of the North Star for more reasons than simply sharing a developer and publisher. Lost Paradise is set up very similarly to Yakuza. It's an another open-world game with RPG mechanics except the organized crime backdrop is traded for a fantasy-meets-science-fiction one. The spiky-haired hero also doesn't wear suits but a open-chested vest that barely covers his (conservatively) thousand pounds of muscle. As Kenshiro you are the master of the deadly martial art known as Hokuto Shinken which can kill people from the inside with a single strike. In terms of gameplay this means that throughout a roughly 30 hour journey Kenshiro will strut around the world, complete quests, level up new skills and turn enemies into exploding meat bags with simple (but fun) hand-to-hand combat.
The open world of Lost Paradise is smaller than the average open world game which oddly enough works in its favor. A wide, expansive but mostly empty landscape is traded in here for a more denser and more personality filled city on the brink of collapse. The events and various missions of this open world aren't too thrilling though since its comprised of standard objectives that only involve going here, going there, talk to a bunch of people and engage in various combat scenarios.
Lost Paradise does find ways to separate itself from the glut of open world games in two chief ways though. The first, and perhaps most important, is the combat. Fighting starts off very simple with just a handful of combos but with the level up system it gets progressively more complicated. Lost Paradise keeps a very basic control scheme with only two buttons for fighting, one for blocking and another for special moves. Very quickly into the game though the most basic of bouts with turn into an insanely bloody and flashy affair.
There are games with far more complex fighting systems but few are as immediately satisfying as Fist of the North Star. Even the game's special finishers which amount to little more than QTEs are so over-the-top that they're a delight each and every time they're performed. If watching a biker thug with a stereotypical mohawk have his face swell and explode into a blood fountain while a disembodied commentator randomly screams a made up martial art move is wrong, it's best not to be right.
This level of presentation is another of Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise's strengths. The game is so hyper masculine and melodramatic like any basic hero anime but it's self-aware too. Lost Paradise strikes the perfect balance by taking itself deadly seriously and knowingly winking to the audience that its bonkers. Every inch of the game is loaded with this parody level of action that it almost helps make up for some of the game's shortcomings. Annoyingly the visuals do seem very dated. Lost Paradise looks much more like PlayStation 3 game re-skinned for the current gen than a true PS4 exclusive with some rough textures but the swaggering attitude helps balance things out.
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise isn't going to be for everyone. Compared to some of the PS4's other exclusives it's on the low tier. For fans of the source material, the Yakuza franchise, or players just looking to blow off steam in an apocalyptic anime world there's a lot to like in Lost Paradise. Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise aims directly down the middle when it comes to open world, doing nothing special but nothing egregious, and it makes for a solid experience.
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise is available now for $59.99 on PlayStation 4. Screen Rant was provided a PS4 copy for review.