Judgment Feels Like a Worthy Follow-Up to Yakuza
The first chapter of Judgment does an excellent job of introducing you to the game's characters and mechanics but does so in fun ways.
I’ve been playing Sega’s upcoming release of Judgment over the past week or so and I have to say, I’m enjoying it quite a bit so far. Judgment is the latest game from the same team that worked on the Yakuza series and if you’re a big fan of that franchise, you’re surely going to find a lot to like here as well.
Judgment places you in the shoes of Takayuki Yagami, who is a former lawyer now turned private detective. He’s also generally just a cool looking dude sporting a leather jacket, skinny jeans, and an excellent haircut. Alongside Kazuma Kiryu, the protagonist from Yakuza, Yagami just exudes that same amount of coolness we’ve come to expect from characters by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. Maybe that’s a weird thing to point out, but so far, I’ve found Yagami to be every bit as fun to play as and get to know as Kiryu was in my brief time I’ve spent with the Yakuza series.
The first chapter of Judgment plays out in a fairly linear fashion and gets you accustomed to the characters that you’ll be conversing with over the course of the entirety of the game. It also introduces you to the game’s main case which involves a serial murderer who is killing people and then removing their eyes. This opening chapter of Judgment focuses specifically on one of the victims and the aftermath involved with the accused culprit of the crime.
Judgment often feels like a marriage between both Yakuza and the Phoenix Wright series. You’ll run around the city of Kamurocho collecting evidence as Yagami only for those clues that you find to lead you down another trail to further your investigation. Yagami will then present his findings to other characters later on to help determine their next steps.
If there’s one thing I’m a bit torn on so far with Judgment, it would be the detective systems that have been put in place. Often times when you enter a certain location, you’ll be placed in a first-person perspective and are allowed to walk around the environment. You’ll then be tasked with placing your cursor over distinguishable objects in the area to gather intel about the case. Variants of this same style of gathering clues can also be done via a drone that Yagami has at his disposal.
This isn’t a bad means of doing detective work in Judgment, but it gets rather bland after having done it a handful of times. Assuming this same method of gathering clues and evidence stays the same over the course of the entire experience, I could see myself getting even more burnt out with it.
When you’re not sprinting around town strictly searching for clues, you’ll be first to get your hands dirty every now and then. Combat is another key component of Judgment and unsurprisingly, if you have played Yakuza, these mechanics should feel pretty familiar. Yagami has two different combat forms (Crane and Tiger) that he can use against foes. One form is better for facing large groups of enemies while another is better for one-on-one scenarios. Early on, combat doesn’t contain a whole lot of depth other than that involved with stringing together basic combos but as you progress, you’ll begin to unlock more and more abilities.
Combat is also likely where you’ll laugh the most while playing Judgment. Much like Yakuza, Judgment doesn’t shy away from being absolutely ridiculous in every sense of the word. Some of the best moments I’ve had in Judgment so far have involved bouncing enemies’ heads off of cars or picking up a nearby bicycle and blasting someone across the face with it. Most of the combat situations I’ve found myself in so far have been avoidable but I’ve gone out of my way to engage in them just because it’s simple, goofy fun.
The one other biggest aspect of Judgment that I’ve seen so far deals with side objectives and friend events. As you travel around, you’ll begin to make friends in town through tasks they might give you. Some of these friends can be made at the local burger joint or convenience store while others are scattered about it various areas. As you make more friends, your standing in Kamurocho will increase overall with its residents. It’s a cool system even if it’s one I’ve not really seen the ins and outs of fully just yet.
I still feel like I’ve barely dipped my toes into Judgment upon completing the game’s first chapter. As it stands, I’ve hardly started doing side cases and I haven’t gone off the beaten path to try and make new friends in the city much, either. Despite the early stages of Judgment funneling you down a very specific path, it has largely been a fun and thrilling adventure so far that I’m very much looking forward to seeing it through to completion.
Judgment is set to hit PS4 later this month on June 25. Stay tuned to read our full review of the game in the future.