Judgment Review Highlights

We selected the most interesting pieces from the reviews of the new game developed by Yakuza devs

The action-adventure game Judgment from the developers of Yakuza series, Ryu ga Gatoku Studio, was originally published by Sega for PlayStation 4 on December 13, 2018. However, for a long time, it was available only in Japan, while the international release is set for June 25, 2019. Judgment stars Japanese actor Takuya Kimura as the main character Takayuki Yagami.

Judgment looks similar to the Yakuza series and shares its core mechanics. The main difference is the protagonist who is a private detective, opposed to criminals from the devs’ previous works. Ryu ga Gatoku Studio also calls Judgment "a more grounded game".

You can watch the trailer below:

We highlighted the most interesting bits from fresh reviews to help you understand what to expect from this game.

Robert Ramsey at Push Square

"Judgment may be a Yakuza spin-off, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the best games in SEGA's series. Barring some gimmicky gameplay additions and some unnecessary story padding, it's an absolutely ace detective thriller. As we've come to expect of Yakuza Studio, Judgment's writing and characters are top notch, and it's arguably a perfect place to start if you're looking to explore the streets of Kamurocho for the first time."

Robert Ramsey at Push Square writes that the best parts of Judgment are its writing, world-building, and characters. The plot "does drag at points", but the game still has "one of the most engrossing, emotive, and intense narratives on PlayStation 4". The characters are memorable and believable, and the final act "is nothing short of astounding".

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You can choose betwen two fighting styles: Crane and Tiger. The former uses a lot of spinning and sweep kicks to deal with multiple targets, and the latter is a better fit for one on one duels

It also sounds like Judgment has many surprises in its side activities. While the author decided not to spoil anything particular, he said that some of the optional missions are hysterical, while others can be pretty disturbing. "There were times when we genuinely couldn't believe what we were seeing on screen", he writes.

The only criticism of Judgments is its surprising lack of a karaoke minigame from Yakuza series and dull ingame-VR stuff, The protagonist can use futuristic goggles to put himself onto an imaginary game board, where he rolls dice, moves to different spaces and completes challenges. This activity combines all of Judgment’s gameplay systems into a quick and easy minigame but falls flat compared to other parts of the game.

Tristan Ogilvie at IGN

"Judgment’s smooth and spectacular street fighting, eclectic array of side activities, and suspenseful serial killer-based plot makes for the best original Yakuza game of this console generation."

Tristan Ogilvie at IGN also grieves on the game’s lack of the karaoke minigame. However, the author writes that Judgment’s new detective mechanics really refresh familiar Yakuza’s formula, while other aspects of the game are just as good. It’s still more an action blockbuster than a detective story, but this makes Judgment a perfect Yakuza game.

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One of the game’s characters was originally played by famous Japanese actor Pierre Taki. He was arrested in March this year for drug use, and SEGA decided to change the character model to remove his likeness

The main disappointment of the game is that despite the fact this game is called Judgment, there’s surprisingly little room given to make our your own decisions. You can listen very carefully to what every character says and try to piece together different clues, but soon you’ll realize that all of that is pretty much pointless. You can brute-force your way through the conversation trees during a suspect interrogation, and get an early skill upgrade that makes the search for clues extremely easy.

Tristan concludes the review praising Judgment’s combat mechanics, suspenseful plot and high-quality English-language dub. The author also says that due to the all-new cast of characters and original story Judgment is very approachable for newcomers.

Chris Carter at Destructoid

"It still has that serious Ryu Ga Gotoku underworld tint, but it's also still as ridiculous as ever."

Chris Carter at Destructoid isn’t so happy on how Judgment handles its detective premise. He compares such tasks to Assassin's Creed mission archetypes.

Some sections are in first-person, requiring you to identify targets or take photos of suspects, and it’s usually not particularly engaging and feels "more like a time-wasting minigame than anything else". The tailing is probably where the comparison to Assassin’s Creed comes from, as targets predictably walk for 15-20 seconds at a time, look back, then go start moving again.

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The tailing sequences are a waste of time

Chris liked chases more. They similar to those in Shenmue series and involve many QTEs.

"Some of you might be throwing up in your mouth a bit but this is totally my jam."

Overall, it’s clear how the devs intended to wildly experiment and add as much variety as they could. If you’re the kind of person who wouldn’t be completely turned off by a few bad minutes at a time in the huge 30-40-hour game, you’re gonna be fine. Judgment loses your interest almost completely from time to time but gets back on track almost immediately.

The review concludes with Carter saying that after all Judgment is still pretty much a Yakuza game in another coating:

"I appreciate that the Yakuza studio wanted to try something different with Judgment, even if the biggest deviations are the absence of the bankable character Kazuma Kiryu and the addition of some detective busywork."

The consensus for Judgment is that it's not a great detective game, but an excellent new entry in Yakuza franchise with a great story, combat and crazy side activities. It also seems to be the best starting point for those who wanted to jump in this series, which suddenly took West by storm in recent years. To those of you who want to learn how Judgment relates to the Yakuza series — we’ve got you covered.

Judgment is available only on PlayStation 4.