Thank you SEGA for sending us this game to review!
Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, the makers of the popular Yakuza series are mixing it up with a story that revolves around a detective who just so happens to get jumped by thugs every time he steps outside of his office/apartment. Judgment takes place in the Yakuza universe in the fictional city of Kamurocho. Those familiar with the Yakuza series will definitely notice some similarities and Easter Eggs from the other games, but the story and characters are completely different. The Yakuza clan names remain the same, but the members are completely different and I didn’t notice any cameos.
The main character in this game is Takayuki Yagami who was a hotshot lawyer three years ago and got a convicted murderer freed by proving reasonable doubt in the courtroom. However, when that man’s girlfriend was brutally murdered a month later, Yagami felt guilty and pursued a career as a detective instead.
Yagami is quick on his feet and wits. He has to defend himself on the thug-ridden streets and in the courtroom. Crime scenes require a keen eye for detail and piecing together all of the evidence to make a case. Kamurocho has plenty of crime to keep detectives and police busy around the clock. Lately, there has been a string of yakuza related murders where the victims have been found with their eyes gouged out. A Tojo clan chairman has been arrested for one of these murders and Yagami has been asked to help prove his innocence. While this high-ranking yakuza chairman is no angel, Yagami believes that he isn’t the killer, but knows their true identity.
Yagami’s quest for truth spans thirteen chapters which can take a couple of hours apiece to complete if you primarily focus on the main story. To earn extra cash Yagami can do some lock-picking or detective cases. Completed side stories can also provide Yagami with more spending money. Side stories are marked on the city map as teal colored folders. Some of the side stories are rather silly including one where you have to chase down a man’s toupee (he calls it a hat) that tends to get blown off of his head multiple times.
The detective side cases range from locating a man who steals panties hanging out to dry to tailing unfaithful spouses and snapping pictures of them entering a love hotel with their lover. The panties case requires using a drone to catch the guilty party. Some of the ladies you assist can become your girlfriend if you play your cards right.
One of the clients is an up and coming songstress who has a dedicated fan base that watches her play on the streets of Kamurocho. Although she’s fifteen years younger than Yagami, the relationship can turn romantic. I enjoyed the scripted moments and build up to where they became an official couple, but after the fact it became boring. Yagami could text her to meet up and they could either play darts competitively, or she could watch him grab a dog plush from the arcade, or hit balls at the baseball park. After doing a few of those events I got bored and focused on the main story.
Most of the texts are one-way and Yagami will get messaged by various people in the city to assist them somehow. There’s this gang that shows up often and will jump Yagami constantly until he defeats their leaders or waits it out and gets scolded by the restaurant owner who messages him about it. If the leaders are dealt with, a reward will be left in Yagami’s mailbox.
With every battle won and quest completed, Yagami will earn points that can be used to unlock new fighting moves and abilities. There are two fighting styles, Tiger and Crane. Tiger is better for one-on-one battles while Crane is ideal for groups. I stuck with Crane since most of my battles had multiple attackers. Be sure to unlock all of the moves for the style you use the most. In the sewers there is a shop where you can purchase moves and useful items with experience points instead of money. You’ll also need to head to the sewers to seek treatment and medkits from a doctor you’ll befriend early on. Medical checkups and medkits are the only ways to cure a mortal wound that permanently reduces your health bar until treated.
Along with an underground doctor, you’ll also befriend a dirty cop who is willing to sell you police case files for a price. To progress the story you’ll have to bend the law a bit. A common theme throughout this game is doing a little wrong for the greater good.
The battles in this game are plentiful and bloody. You can often use nearby items to do significant damage to your opponent. For example, you can use bikes, metal bars, swords, tasers, and more! Powerful attacks are slowed down to make them more dramatic. Blood is often shown spilling out as a result of a powerful blow. The murder scenes are grisly and bloody. Every possible curse word is used along with some blaspheming thrown in for good measure.
Sex isn’t shown but alluded to on multiple occasions. There are plenty of sexual jokes made throughout the game as well. One character is stripped down to their underwear as an act of humiliation. Another is shown wearing backless chaps without underwear to cover up their butt. There are plenty of places in the game to gamble, smoke, and drink if desired.
Moral issues aside, Judgment tells an excellent story with lots of plot twists along the way. Each chapter ends with a cliffhanger making you eager to play the next. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this game is dubbed in English and the voice acting is superb and on par with the high quality and realistic visuals. If you enjoy Yakuza and Phoenix Wright games you’ll enjoy Judgment.