Released in June 2019 for PlayStation 4, Judgment tells the story of a hard-working lawyer turned private investigator. He becomes embroiled in a Yakuza conspiracy that quickly places him in dangerous and desperate situations.
You definitely get your money’s worth from Judgment. This is due to a cast of fantastic characters, an intriguing story, and as much side content as you can possibly handle in a game. However, some aspects of the gameplay do not feel as fresh or fun as other instances within the title.
Kamurocho’s New Tone
Fans of the Yakuza series may be familiar with the setting of Kamurocho. This is also where Judgment takes place, solidifying the game as a spin-off. However, Judgment ultimately feels much different than a Yakuza game. Although, it does share many similarities.
For instance, Kamurocho is still a very lively place. The streets are scattered with plenty of NPCs going about their day. As you brush past these nameless entities, you get a feeling that the city is alive. This is supported by catching characters you know wandering the streets as well.
Kamurocho feels very familiar to a Yakuza fan but just different enough. This makes the title an interesting chance to see the fictional city from a new perspective.
New Friends, Enthralling Foes
Judgment features a diverse cast of characters, each with their own goals and ambitions to achieve. While some are more important than others, there is a good chance that a character will be meaningful in some capacity. These supporting actors make the main character, Takayuki Yagami, stand out and shine as the story progresses.
Yagami is a pretty standard protagonist. Capable, smart, and talented, he is also flawed in some respects. I personally found him to be extremely likable. The influences around him are what make this game special, though. Even characters contained to side content can carry emotional weight in Kamurocho.
Side Cases and Content
Typically, most games within the world of Yakuza feature enough content to keep players busy for dozens of hours. Judgment continues this trend with plenty of side cases to complete outside of the main story. You receive these cases from various individuals in the city. You occasionally stumble upon side content while exploring, as well.
The side cases are really well done and feature varying degrees of tone intensity. Taking a side job in Judgment might have you tracking down a Yakuza boss’s lost cat or even taking down a trio of perverted criminals harassing the city. In my experience, these cases often distract me from the main plot and halt progress until they’re solved. However, that isn’t a bad thing at all.
There are plenty of other distractions in Kamurocho, too. Arcades, drone racing, and collectibles can be found around every corner. The arcades even feature full games from the Sega library that are easy to get lost in for a good while. On top of that, Yagami can also make friends with various people, leading to mini-stories that are simple, yet often entertaining in the end.
These friend contacts typically exist to give you a reason to visit restaurants and stores. However, these small quests can provide plenty of useful gameplay touches that help you out in your playthrough.
There is a surprising amount of mechanics at play in Judgment. Naturally, combat has a big focus in the game. Yagami often finds himself the target of various thugs simply walking down the street. These events give you a chance to try out the many different moves and combat styles that you can invest in using experience points.
The combat feels comfortable and fluid. This makes the encounters seem fun and exhilarating. Although, getting sidetracked by random fights begins to get a bit annoying after a while. There are ways to repel enemies, but having to actively invest in those bonuses might irk some players.
As a private investigator, the player will have some detective work to do as well. Scanning areas of interest is a common occurrence. This can be done from the ground or via a drone high above the streets. These moments do help break up the gameplay a bit and never overstay their welcome.
On the other hand, Judgment also features tailing missions. Considering the narrative, these missions make a lot of sense. That doesn’t make them fun, though. Easy, time-consuming, and lacking in interest, the tailing events in Judgment can kill the fun. Luckily, these moments are few and far between, as well as brief.
One thing that I did enjoy was the chase segments. During these, the player chases down a character or object fleeing from them. Ironically, they are not much different than the tailing missions but are presented at a faster pace. Some of these events can actually feature some pretty cool parkour moments, as well.
Judgment is a great game with lots to offer the player. The story features an intriguing mystery with some good twists throughout. The gameplay is snappy and smooth with plenty of potential for upgrades and challenges. Plus, content found within Judgment is extremely entertaining and fun to experience.
Naturally, some dated gameplay elements don’t work as well as they could. Those issues are overshadowed by the rest of the game, fortunately. All in all, Judgment should please fans of the action and adventure genres, as well as fans of the Yakuza series.