Genre: Adventure, Action
Platform: Google Stadia (Also available on Xbox, Playstation 4/5)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 23/04/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
Fancy Yourself as a Detective?
If you haven’t played the Yakuza games then I guess you may have been hiding under a rock. Either that or you simply haven’t stumbled upon the series just yet. Judgement is essentially a spin-off of the Yakuza series and an excellent place to start for newcomers to this genre of game. Judgement was originally released way back in 2019 for the Playstation 4 and has now found its way to other platforms.
For this review, I played through Judgement on Google Stadia. Say what you like about Stadia, but it can perform just as good as a PC or console. With a 4K screen and a Chromecast Ultra in combination with the Google Stadia controller, Judgement was sublime in all areas of performance. But enough with the technical talk, how did it fare as a game overall?
There isn’t a huge number of detective based games on the market in recent generations. In fact, I can’t even remember a really good one since Rockstar Games LA Noire. Judgement is set in the suburbs of Kamurocho which is where the Yakuza games are normally set. If you’re a Yakuza veteran you’ll be right at home here, so put your feet up and enjoy the ride.
Setting the Scene
What I immediately loved about Judgement is how the voice acting is converted to the English language here. Every Yakuza game I’ve played is Japanese audio with English subtitles. I wouldn’t say this is a bad thing, but for an ageing man like me, it requires more concentration and lots of reading. I instantly felt more connection with the characters in this instalment, you really create bonds with them.
Judgement has you filling the role of ex-lawyer Takayuki Yagami. Yagami starts the story by investigating and successfully clearing the name of hospital worker Shinpei Okubo for the murder of a patient. However, Okubo is then arrested and charged for murdering his partner. Racked with guilt over this case, Yagami hands in his notice and leaves the law firm. Fast forward three years and Yagami takes on the role of a private detective. He heads to Tokyo’s Kamurocho district and here he links up with ex-Tojo clan member Masaharu Kaito.
Together you investigate a serial killer that has been murdering yakuza members in Kamurocho and gouging out their eyes from the sockets. I don’t want to ruin the total plot for you here as essentially uncovering the story is the most satisfying aspect of Judgement.
How Does it Play?
The beauty of the Yakuza titles is all the extra content you have such as the mini-games and side quests. You may be asking, are these still in Judgement? The answer is yes, you can still head on down to the arcade and play some retro titles along with some other games exclusive to Judgement. There is even a drone racing league where you can design your own drone and race them. Once you tire of all these, you can hit up some pinball and try for the high scores. I have no shame in admitting that I spend hours engaged with these activities. It is easy to forget that you’re actually deep within a well-narrated story when you’ve been blasting a baseball mini-game for over an hour.
What stood out for me with Judgement was the combat mechanics and how satisfying they were to use. There is a choice of two fighting styles Crane and Tiger. The Crane style of fighting adopts the method of tackling larger groups of enemies clustered together effectively. Tiger is more suited to one on one battles. Changing the fighting style requires a simple press of the down button on the D-pad. Yagami has access to powerful and useful combinations by default and how to pull these off are simply explained in the pause menus. You can grab weapons, wall jump, and dodge attacks all with precision and forward planning. It’s useful to keep your eye on your personal health and also the police presence. Keeping a fight going too long can result in arrest, this won’t give you any rewards and do your reputation any good.
Judgement is a title I could type about for hours, but I’d damage the storyline for you. It took me approximately seventy hours in total to see and do everything I needed to get done and I still had thoughts over whether I missed anything. Judgement has a deep, rich and gripping storyline with plenty to see and do surrounding the main quests and narrative. This game left me feeling gutted when it finished as I really connected with the characters more than I had with any of the Yakuza titles. English dubbing made the cutscenes much more tolerable and the graphics are sublime. With so much to see and do outside of the main story quests, this is a game that will keep you busy for many hours. If you loved the Yakuza titles, then I urge you to try this as you won’t regret it.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4.5 out of 5
You can purchase Judgement on Stadia here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.