Judgment is an open world action and adventure game that takes place in Kamurocho, the same setting from the Yakuza series, where you play as Takuyuki Yagami, a former lawyer who later becomes a private detective after a tragic event involving a previous case. Now Yagami must take on a gruesome serial murder case involving a mysterious killer that is gouging the eyes of his yakuza victims. As you take on the case, you’ll be in for a journey where you’ll make use of your detective skills to not only solve the mysterious behind this case but also take on side cases for the residences of Kamurocho, while enjoying the mini games during your spare time.
The combat system in Judgment is similar to Yakuza 0 and 6 with a few twist in mind. When engaging in combat, you can switch between two fighting styles, Crane & Tiger, while pressing down on the D-pad button. Crane stance has Yagami in a blue aura that allows him to attack enemies acrobatically with a series of kicks. In Tiger stance, Yagami will be surrounded in a red aura that allows him to attack straight forward, breaking enemy guards and better used against tougher enemies like story bosses. Heat actions also makes an return as “EX Actions” which help deliver devastating blows to near by enemies once you fill your EX Gauge bit by bit and pressing the R2 button to unleash “EX Boost”. A newly added game play mechanic not seen in any Yakuza title are Wall Jump attacks which allows you to run up to walls and perform a selection of attacks. For me, wall attacks were fun to pull off and very useful against a swarm of enemies. After defeating enemies and bosses, you will be rewarded SP (Skill Points) which can be used to purchase new skills to help you progress through the game. After finishing the game, my only gripe with Judgment was the cheapness of certain story battles where enemies can gun you down or instantly one hit kill if you are not careful enough with how you utilize your defense. I would recommend buying food from Poppo stores and med kits as much as possible before fighting bosses. Outside of this complain, the battle system featured in Judgment was top notch.
What makes Judgment stand out from the Yakuza series is how the team handles the story and side cases as you progress, as you will be prompted to do investigations depending on the case. Most common investigations you’ll be doing will involve Search Mode, Drone, Tailing, Chasing, and Conversations. When you enter search mode, you’ll have to find key evidence or people relating to the case by looking around the surrounding area or using your drone to help you find useful information that can be used later on in the game. Finding things not related to the case such as finding cats in hidden locations will nab you some SP (Skill Points). In some cases, you can make Yagami wear various disguises ranging from dirty clothes to a vampire costume; but these outfits are limited use for certain cases. There are certain parts in the story where you will have to tail the suspect using stealth which includes hiding behind objects around the streets of Kamurcho. My experience from the tailing segments are a mix bag. Some tailing segments are short while others can drag a bit too long, but it isn’t a bad game play mechanic overall. Chasing segments would have to be one of my favorite investigation action, where you have to chase the suspect or other silly objects like a wig during a side case, while you through the city and avoid obstacles in a series of Quick Time Events. Photo missions however are the least fun part for me. Photo missions have you take a photo of certain incidents at the right moment to fulfill the required conditions which caused me a couple of game overs. Luckily, this part of the game was only required for some side cases and not the main story.
Conversation segements play a big role in Judgment, which requires the player’s full attention and clever decision making during the game in order to solve the cases. During cutscenes, there will be subtitles highlighted in blue to give you clues you need to progress through the game. Looking through your case files in Yagami’s phone will help you recap on the evidence you’ve collected throughout the chapter. A As a detective, a part of the game has to do with courts and this is another moment that conversation segments shine. As a conversation progresses, you will have to select the best responses and selecting the best choices consecutively will reward you SP points to build up. In my honest opinion, it’s nice to see Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio try something new with each game they develop. Judgment may be similar to Yakuza in many ways, but it’s detective gameplay mechanics that make it stand out from the series as it’s very own game.
Like in previous Yakuza games, side missions make a return as “Side Cases” where you can accept various cases that offer unique stories and award you with money, SP and even items. Not only that, but you can take on side cases via the map in Judgment, you can access them through locations like Yagami’s Detective Agency, Bar Tender, and the Genda Law Office. By completing side cases, Yagami’s reputation can be raised to build friendship with the locals of Kamurcho. From my blind playthrough, I only picked up side cases around the street during certain chapters and I would have to say that my personal favorite cases were “Gone with the Breeze” where I literally had to chase a wig around the city and return it to the owner, “Partners” which involves Yagami and Kaito’s friendship, and “The Ono Michio Bandit” where you have to find the culprit who stole money while wearing a Ono Michio costume. Seeing Ono Michio return in Judgment really made me excited for a potential crossover. Maybe one day? Side cases are nice additions to the game for high replay value which you can complete during the story or return to it later after beating the game.Side cases are a nice way to add hours of additional content into the main game and offers a reason to return to the game after you completed it since all the missed side cases are still open when you beat the main story.
Now on into the juicy stuff that will excite many players who love to play mini games on their spare time and Judgement has a lot of content to try out. You can play mahjong, take on baseball challenges, outdoor shogi, gamble, darts, or hit the arcade at Club SEGA. If you are a fan of classic arcade SEGA titles, Judgment features playable versions of Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, Space Harrier, Puyo Puyo and two SEGA Model 2 arcade ports of Fighting Vipers and Motor Raid. I have been playing Fighting Vipers and Motor Raid non-stop during my play through due to my passion of arcade SEGA games from the 90s and they ran perfectly for ports. Another additional arcade minigame that I tried out in Club SEGA was Kamurcho of the Dead which is a House of the Dead inspired rail shooting minigame, that is based on Yakuza Dead Souls where you shoot down zombies and other undead creatures. It’s always nice to see SEGA showing support of their classic arcade games throughout each Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio title which makes me wish that they would someday develop a standalone retro compilation release of these conversions.
Judgment also features two more exclusive minigames, Dice & Cube and Drone League. Dice & Cube is a virtual reality game based on sugoroku (a japanese term for board game) where you move around the neon-like board setting, allowing you to roll a dice to move and having spaces on the board you can land on that activate missions such as a battle or lock picking. Finishing them successfully will grant you items and can be converted into money after the game is finished. Drone League involves collecting parts for your drone to customize and race against other drones in the main game or online with other players through simulations.
Overall, Judgment is a unique spin-off to Yakuza with a unique spin to it. I personally liked how the team handled this as a cinematic crime drama, with suspense. But this time you are the law. Like always the studios motion capture is great, especially in fight scenes which feature good choreography. Sometimes it felt like I was watching a Jackie Chan or Jet Li film. The voice over performances by Greg Chun (Yagami) and Crisp Freeman (Kaito) were awesome, especially whenever the two characters interacted with each other and they cracked some good jokes as well. It took me at least 30 to 40 hours to complete the main story, with me still having left over content that I’ll be coming back to finish. If this game does well, I would love to see Judgment as it’s own franchise and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a potential crossover with the Yakuza characters down the line. If you like Yakuza or new to Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio titles, give Judgment a try. You won’t be disappointed.
- Great Story
- Stands out as great spin-off from Yakuza series
- Hilarious Side Cases
- Great Selection of Mini Games
- Some side cases are tedious (photo events)
- Cheap boss fights that 1 hit KO