The seedy underbelly version of Kamurocho they have created, is home to superbly written detective story you didn’t know you wanted.
Developer – Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios
Publisher – Sega
Platforms – PlayStation 4|5, Stadia, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X
Everything from the games visual style, the expressions on peoples faces and even the music help sell the Kamurocho feel the series is known for. People are shady, always with more beyond the surface, and various elements are always at play.
Right in the midst of this city are the elements of the Yakuza crime syndicate. The Tojo clan are indeed around in full force.
Judgment delves deep into a different side of the criminal world proper. With callbacks to the more grounded version of the crime, even down to courtroom drama and hearings. You will find journals and have discussions where things are discussed between attorneys and see the other side of how the city views the Yakuza element.
In terms of abilities, Nagami can be customized in a large amount of ways. This game features an extensive upgrade system with multiple skills, passive abilities, and every single skill has a tree that also has its own branching pathway that effects how you use said abilities.
It’s a lot of fun, and basically provides just enough tools to play out your street justice fantasy. Nagami is a set character, with a set look, but the type of combat style you will use is up for you to determine.
It’s a fantastic upgrade system. The dialogue options and the attention paid to the lore makes Judgement a fantastic spinoff from the mainline Yakuza titles.
As an action game proper, Judgement succeeds. It’s the third person action game that will be familiar to anybody It has all of the variety you would expect in most action games as of late. It checks all the boxes. A huge list of skills, multiple weapons all with their own styles of attack and advanced combat mechanics with parry’s and a stamina system to manage.
It’s all completely functional, albeit familiar. It doesn’t have the precision required to quite pull off stylish combat the way you would expect out of the upper echelon of action games. Between enemy AI sometimes forgetting about you mid fight, or the camera getting a bit awkward in close quarters.
That best feature, is the narrative itself. This game really emphasize the role playing without needing skill points or charisma checks. Nagami was lawyer, but besides the irony of being an investigator is frequently touched on. How much detective work you do in this game truly helps sell the atmosphere. If you have been waiting for a gritty detective take on the Yakuza series, you’re in luck. The loop of figuring out clues and snooping around while beating up thugs is perfect.
In Judgment, so many NPC’s have awesome side stories to complete. The sheer attention to detail in each and every character is only surpassed by the excellent writing and voice work. Every person, from the main character to a random guy down an alley just sitting around a fire is brought to life by an absolutely top notch performance across the board.
The story, the way its told and how being on the other side of the law is folded into such an extensive web of characters is immense. It make for a deep experience that will stay with you well after you are done experiencing the main story.
Judgment may be a spinoff, but it feels like the next step for the Yakuza series.
Come for the crime, and stay for excellent characters. The seedy underbelly version of Kamurocho they have created, is home to superbly written detective story you didn’t know you wanted.
*Editors Note: The next gen versions run fantastic, and a global launch is planned for the sequel, Lost Judgment.*