Judgement is the latest game from Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, the internal Sega team behind the beloved Yakuza series that wrapped up last year with Yakuza 6. This new game is a spin-off title set in the same world, even using the same location as Yakuza, the fictional Tokyo district of Kamurocho.
While the setting is the same, your protagonist is very different. In the Yakuza games, you played strong and stoic Kiryu as he fought his way through the Japanese underworld to redemption, but in Judgment, you play Yagami, an ex-lawyer turned private detective. The new profession makes the odd little fetch quests you find around Tokyo feel more appropriate, as Yagami will do almost anything for a bit of cash.
I’ve played around 15 hours of Judgement, which means I’m coming up to the halfway point. In lieu of a full review of the game, which I’ll write up once finished, here’s what I think so far:
The main story of the game, tracking down a serial killer who removes the eyes of his victims, is really good. I often find it hard to tear away from the main story to take part in side activities. In any other game, I probably wouldn’t be interacting with the side content at all, but so much of it is so good and feels like meaningful fleshing out of the world I’ve been doing every scrap I’ve come across.
You can make friends in Judgement with NPCs and then they’ll help you out. For example, if you do some debt collecting for a character, he’ll pay you well, but if you become friends, he’ll also allow you to borrow from him at a very attractive rate. I made friends with a clerk at a convenience store, and whenever I fight near it, he will run out and throw me a sizzling hot kebab which I then stab into an enemy’s face for massive damage.
Speaking of the combat system, I like it. It is similar to the Yakuza games in that it is a 3D fighter set in an open world. In Judgement, you can switch between a fighting stance that is best for groups and a stance that is best for single opponents. I love switching back and forth to wreck isolated opponents then take out several people at a time. You build a meter which you can spend on insane looking super moves, like spinning around on your hands and catching multiple enemies with your legs and kicking them across the street.
This game is in parts light and fun and in others deadly serious, but I don’t feel like I’m getting tonal whiplash. It’s something that I would recommend to anyone, especially people like myself who always wanted to get into the Yakuza series but felt lost by the history of the series.
I’ll keep this short (Rapid) and tell you that based on what I have played, I think most people will really like Judgement. It’s a very well made and excellent looking game with a vibrant and living world that is also very fun to play.
I’ll reserve judgement (ha) for when I have finished the game and will post a full review then, but so far, I love my time with it. In fact, one of the reasons I wanted to keep this short was so that I could get back to playing it!
Be sure to head back to Rapid Reviews UK for the full review when it goes live.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.