Judgement Review –
Developer: Ryu ga Gotoku Studio
Release: 25th June 2019
I don´t like yearly game releases in most cases, since nearly no franchise can actually deliver fresh new experiences in this short amount of time. However, there´s this one series I always come back to because it achieves this unique, new sensation: Yakuza. After having ended Kiryu´s storyline in its 6th installment, Ryu ga Gotoku studio tried their hands on a completely different concept though, a
Takayuki Yagami was once a lawyer but resigned when he bailed one of his clients out, that actually were guilty and commited a murder soon afterwards. Tormented by its guilt of being responsible for the death of a couple, he resigned and lives as a private detective now, though not 3 years later, he faces a case of a mysterious killer caving eyes out of yakuza, which soon evolves into something much bigger.
The first impression anyone will likely get from Judgement is another thing though. Similar to mediocre thrillers, the first 2-3 hours of this new Yakuza spin-off is a just a drag to play through. Throwing dozens of pointless dialogues and missions at you, that don´t doa great job at building tension nor setting up interesting mysteries. It just feels like no one had a clue how to actually start this plot so they just went with the most boring way they could think of.
Luckily though, once you get out of there, Judgement begins to open up itself like any other Yakuza title and even starts introducing interesting characters and story beats. The whole crime story, mixed with yakuza elements and characters from the main series and other tinier side cases is a genuinely intriguing ride, mainly because of its
The other thing that´s different to
The other part is the abundance of minigames, ranging from 2 lockpicking ones, to a QTE filled chasing one, the typical arcades and even dialogue choices that reward you with XP for good choices. While I still enjoyed all the side activity minigames, the added ones in the story mode just felt … stale, delivering merely “ok” implementation of ideas I´ve seen 100 times in different games already, simply adding padding and bad pacing to an already slow experience. Especially since they don´t control 100% smoothly and seem kinda awkward.
On a technical level Judgement feels yet another tiny bit more polished than Yakuza 6, offering a smoother traversion between the city and stores without loading screens and noticeable FPS stutters, while transitions into fights on the street are now a lot smoother and faster too. Additionally, it still kept its hilarious physics and object break system, great looking cinematics and a slightly different Kamurocho too. In this regard, it´s exactly what you would expect too, luckily.
In the end, Judgement is a Yakuza entry that certainly tried to do different things, sadly not all of them were really all that good. Nonetheless, all this is built upon the same base as every other modern entry in the series, providing the 30-50 hours of pure fun for every fan with slightly more hiccups here and there but certainly not enough to make it any less enjoyable than the main series.
[A Review Code was provided by Koch Media]