Judgment Review (PS5)
Developed: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: April 23,2021
*Game provided to me by SEGA
''Judgment has come''
Judgment is a action adventure spin off of the popular Yakuza series that is developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio and published by SEGA. Originally released back in 2019 in North America to universal praise, SEGA now looks to bring it to the new generation with better graphics, better framerate and improved load times. But is the remaster of this title worth the purchase or should it have just been left on last gen systems and call it a day? Only way one to find this out, so lets go!
Playing as young private detective Takayuki Yagami, you're an unbeatable force in the legal world, winning case after case with relative ease. But the joy won't last for long for poor Yagami. While celebrating his hard earned victory in his office along with his other co-workers, he leans of some disturbing news. The man who he just got off scott free from going to jail, turned out to be a ruthless killer and because he was let free, he was able to murder and burn down his girlfriends house. Not being able to come to grips with what could possibly be his fault, Yagami leaves his legal days behind him and sets off on his own path. But what path will that be?
Right off the bat with Judgment you're going to notice that this game is a very different beast than the normal Yakuza games you've been used to. Sure you have your familiar setting in Kamurocho, but the game play goes in a direction, that to me, made it way more enjoyable than the previous Yakuza games I've played. Granted previous entries of the series aren't bad by any means, but I feel that they've gotten maybe... a little stale, I know, I know, I can see the fire and pitchforks now, you can't catch me though, I'm as fast as Forest Gump. All joking aside, I feel the game play changes and additions to this title make it way more unique and interesting to play due to the implementation of an engaging story that has you playing as Takayuki Yagami, who basically becomes a disgraced lawyer and now lives with his own regret for getting a killer off free, when they were really guilty in the first place. Wait a second ''a detective game'' you say? ''you mean like..'' nope, I know what you're going to be getting at, no,this is not like Ace Attorney, no way, Ace Attorney has never been this violent and intense, so stop while you're ahead. If anything, this game gave me a bit of Condemned: Criminal Origins vibe while playing, I'll explain.
While Yagami has quit being part of the legal team, he still takes up odd jobs for his old firm or anyone else that will give him work, sort of like a mercenary for hire, only without killing involved. Your first job is into investigate a murder that has taken place involving your ''mentor'' Kyohei Hamura, a mob boss of the Matsugane family. He of course, like any mob boss, claims he is innocent of the murder that was committed and it is now your job to check his alibi and find out if he's telling the truth or not. This is where the game actually starts getting REALLY fun and deeply engaging. So why did I bring up Condemned Criminal Origins earlier? well that's because the investigating aspects of this title reminded me a lot of that game from Xbox 360. In Condemned, you could go to an area and search all around to uncover any clue that you can find with multiple tools at your disposal and that much holds true here as well. While investigating a crime scene of the murder that took place, you're disturbed to find out that the victims eyes are missing and have been completely gauged out. What the heck, that's gross.
But something isn't right, where is the blood? surely if he died here, there would be blood all over, but alas there isn't any. This is where you go into detective mode by monitoring and taking any clue you can by examining your surroundings for evidence of anything that can lead you to your next big break. Was there a camera nearby that can see what happened? search the roof tops, does he still have possessions? check his pockets. This is just one of the many cases that make you think about what to do and I suggest you remember every detail because this game also acts like one big quiz. That camera you checked and information you got from eye witness?, you will have to remember all of these because later on you will be asked to shake down or get information from people like a bar owner, who isnt telling you the truth. So, you have to show him the correct information that proves you know they're lying. It's brilliant and makes you feel like you've really busted their butt good.
But just using your examining skills aren't the only things at your disposal as a detective, there are also instances where you can not just go in to talk to a witness or a person of interest because they may be surrounded by a clan of Yakuza. Going there would be suicide. So what do you do? well you use a drone of course, good ol drones. Joined by your friend Kaito, who'm just reminds me of the loud, obnoxious and awesome Takamura from Hajime No Ippo, you take turns trying to find your man of interest, whos imbedded deep in the hideout of a Yakuza base. As Yagami, you take over for Kaito and begin to search around each window to see if you can find your subject and relay the images you're seeing back to Kaito. These type of missions are alright I suppose, they're a nice break in pace from just collecting info from witnesses or shaking people down, but I felt they could've used a tad more variety to give them that extra oomph that I felt they should've had. The narrative sounds pretty slow moving doesn't it? well ya its definitely slow at first early on, but oh man, when it picks up, it picks up immensely. Out of all the Yakuza games out there, this game has to have not only the most engaging story of the entire series, but the most emotional as well, it's a roller coaster. Hell there is a section of the game, where I was like hang on, is this a Yakuza game or did Capcom suddenly get ahold of this title and it's now RE. Granted its not as ''wtf'' as Resident Evil of course. but It still gave me that vibe. Maybe it's just me.
So, being a detective, investigating leads, checking alibi's, being engrossed in the awesome narrative the game sets up for you, you're probably thinking, ''that sounds pretty amazing, but what do you do in the meantime in between that awesome stuff, surely you don't just stand around and pick your nose''. Well, unless you're mining for gold, then no, you aren't picking your nose, but you'll be treading some familiar territory, albeit with a bit of a change than you're used to. What do most people love about Yakuza games? If you guessed going around the streets of Kamurocho and beating peoples heads in, then you're absolutely correct. One of the main staples of this franchise is its addicting combat that involves you as the player being able to string together a variety of hard hitting combos to devastate your opponents and any thugs that try to attack you and this feature and game play aspects holds true here as well. Instead of being a brute force menace like Kiryu was in previous titles, you instead have the more finesse approach now with Yagami, who focuses more in quick combo and agility with abilities such as being able to wall run or jump off walls to go into a combo or even being able to leap frog or hop over an enemy to reposition yourself or get out of harms way. It's a different play style for sure than previous title and brings a variety of unlockable combination of attacks to use at your own discretion as well, the further you get into the game or the more ''currency'' you gain to be able to unlock new abilities. Just what are these abilities you ask? oh man, where do I start, because there's a TON of them.
To start off, your main form of attack before you even upgrade any abilities at all are your flurry of kicks and punches that can be combined together by using square and triangle to come up with a variety of combos to use vs your opponents, and of course your basic block and grabbing attacks as well. But as you gain more currency by doing side quests, which are side cases taken from NPCs or from your buddies at the firm, side mini games like Club SEGA or Drone racing, you'll be able to purchase a plethora of skills sets that fall into the category of 27 different abilities, 51 battle skills and 47 special upgrades to unlock as you progress. Each single category gives you a huge advantage over any opponent you face, whether its a street thug or a boss fight. Unlocking an update from your abilities menu can wield you items such as health upgrades, whereas battle skills and special upgrade sections can gain you such advantages as a dash attack, flux fissure that lets you build up your chi for an explosive attack or a special ability that slowly regenerates your health while listening to your music player. Just leveling and upgrading your character in itself can take your basic 20 hour playthrough into a 30-40 hour long playthrough alone and its EXTREMELY addicting. Completionists are going to have an absolute field day.
Don't get cocky though now that you have your new found abilities because they aren't going to be what saves your ass during group encounters or boss encounters. If you try to bully your way through fights later in the game, then I assure you, you're going to have a very bad time. I learned this the hard way by just trying to button mash, but just wound up getting my butt handed to me left and right. This is when I learned ok, I can't just half ass my way through this, I'm going to have to pick and choose when to take my shots and make them count. This gives the game more of a strategy feel and makes you work harder for your victory, rather than steam roll through an opponent and not feel any satisfaction at all. But if you choose to be a dumb dumb and still mash buttons only, its best to utilize your quick selection menu using your D-Pad and equipping medkits for health or even drinks for stamina that you can use with a press of the D Pad. This can save your sorry butt from getting completely leveled if you get too careless in a fight. So manage your inventory wisely.
So to recap, we have an extremely engaging storyline, characters that ooze personality, great use of detective mechanics, ok'ish use of drones, really fun combat system that allows you create any unique character you want and assuring that you never will have the same character build as another player. So no downside right? perfect game!, wait hang on, it's not perfect, it does have some issues here and there, but nothing that is considered game breaking. The problems for me happens towards the mid half of the game in which Yagami is set on a string of events that really don't push the story forward or add to the overall narrative, in short, I'm talking about filler. Don't worry, I won't rant on it because while yes it is filler, it's not overbearing filler like you'd encounter in Naruto. You guys remember Curry Of Life? oh god, I wish I didn't. Really my only issue is Yagami makes some questionable decisions during the filler that seem out of character to what has already been set up and established with him. Plus they come at a time when the story is getting REALLY good and picking up heavily and then its like ''HOLD IT!'' and road blocks you. Annoying for sure, but enough to deter your enjoyment for the long run? hell no.
So you said you're done with the game? Well I don't think you are. I'm almost willing to bet you have not done the extreme amount of content that awaits you that doesn't even relate to the main story itself. When you aren't busy with the main story, you are able to venture around Kamurocho at your own free will and take part in a variety of different events that enable you to get more currency that you need to further improve your character and at the same time, offer a ton of laughs and fun to be had as well. While roaming the streets, you'll be able to take part in events such as Drone racing that involves... well.. uhh.. drone racing. These makeshift courses take you around Kumurocho and dang are they fun, not only were they fast but they can get intense as well, I found myself getting into ''silent mode'' when playing them. Don't act like you don't know what silent mode is, you know what it is, its that mode that makes you completely shut up and concentrate fully and then when you're done, you take a big breath like you've been holding your breath the entire time, that is silent mode. But while that event is rather amazing, my favorite two side attractions to do were going into Club Sega and playing some arcade games or taking part in friendship missions that involve you taking on missions or objectives for various characters in the game and raising your friendship level with them for rewards. Think of it as a ''NIKO, COUSIN! LETS GO BOWLING'' moment from GTA 4, only... not annoying as hell. Trust me, its really fun.
At the end of the day, Judgment not only brings a great graphical upgrade over the ps4, smoother framerate and less loading times, but it also shows this game still packs a powerful punch to any game library and it proves itself as still being one of the best Yakuza games in the series, based off my own personal experiences with the franchise. Sure it has some filler in the middle of the game that can take the wind out of your sails, but nothing that overshadows its great story that has many twist and turns that will leave you shocked. So If I'm going to be honest, if you already own this game on PS4 and its DLC, is it worth getting it on PS5? I'd have to say no, unless you are that big on graphical upgrades. However, if you're like me and never played it when it was on PS4, then its a no brainer, my verdict in THAT case is quite clear.