Monday 1 July 2019

Judgement ★★★☆☆

‘Judgment’ is the latest game published by SEGA and is a semi-open world action-adventure game set in the same universe as the ‘Yakuza’ franchise. The ‘Yakuza’ franchise has a cult following (and rightly so) and is lauded for its story and strange activities that you can do in the world. This isn’t the first time a spin-off has been made from ‘Yakuza’ as there games such as ‘Yakuza: Dead Souls’ and of course ‘Fist of the North Star’. Although they were all serviceable for what they were, the spin-offs never reached the same level of acclaim as the mainline games.

‘Judgment’ may be set in the same world as ‘Yakuza’ but it is vastly different story-wise.  Instead of playing as Kiryu (a retired Yakuza trying to get away from the crime world) you play as an ex-lawyer turned detective who is trying to solve a case of serial killings. As a detective, you’ll find that you will be doing very similar things that you would be in ‘Yakuza’.  There are many cutscenes, as to be expected, and the game looks stunning when compared to ‘Yakuza 6’.  In between this, you will spend 50% of your time fighting and 50% exploring and doing detective work.

If you have played a ‘Yakuza’ game before and loved the fighting then you will no doubt enjoy this one. In a similar vein, you fight with the several styles that are available and will be hitting many enemies in the face with bikes or other various items – something I must admit I don’t really get bored of! 

In a way, this is slightly off-putting at first because ‘Judgment’ isn’t the bombastic and sometimes crazy game that ‘Yakuza’ is.  The story is very intimate and there are fewer explosive events leading into each other.  Mixing what is a serious story with the over the top combat of ‘Yakuza’ is somewhat jarring.

That being said the fighting is so much fun that you can end up getting lost in it, desperate to look for fights and increase your skill as you explore Kamurocho. And of course, away from the main story, there are some hilarious and intriguing side missions to complete that I won’t spoil here. It’s not as bizarre as ‘Yakuza’, as I’ve mentioned, but there are certainly some interesting aspects to it.

The other half of the game is more detective-style, with many parts focused around accusing others and making objectives in a courtroom-style situation and unfortunately, the mini-games and actions that you do aren’t nearly fleshed out enough for them to matter.  None of the things you do really add to the overall experience in any positive way and end up feeling like an add-on to a ‘Yakuza’ game to make itself seem unique. I also felt that it was all a bit too familiar – like with the ‘Yakuza’ series, ‘Judgment’ is set entirely in Kamurocho and I think being able to visit some other locations would have helped to spice it up a bit and keep it fresh.

The game itself is very fun to play, especially when you are doing what the ‘Yakuza’ developers do best (fighting), but unfortunately, the game does fall flat in several areas and I found this to impact how I enjoyed the game. If you are a fan of the ‘Yakuza’ series though there is definitely lots to love here and I could see this game developing its own kind of cult following – just perhaps not quite as big as its older brother.

Hannah Read

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