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Game Over: Judgment

Game Over: Judgment

While I started playing the Yakuza series in 2018, I didn’t actually finish any of them until 2020. So, two years after finishing Yakuza 0 and mowing through the entire series, I have finished Judgment, the spin-off to the Yakuza series and developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio.

The story follows a private detective named Takayuki Yagami who lives and works in Kamurocho. He used to be a lawyer but quit when his client went to prison for murdering his girlfriend, shortly after Yagami had cleared him of a different murder. While not a yakuza himself, Yagami is on friendly terms with a local family, and gets pulled in to investigate and help clear their captain of murder charges. As things progress, it becomes apparent that a serial killer is stalking the streets of Kamurocho, and it’s up to Yagami to help stop them.

I won’t dwell on the story too much, because it’s well-worth experiencing without spoilers (much like all Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio games!). Like the other games in the Yakuza series it probably doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny, but it’s a blast at the time.

There are some changes to the games starring Kazuma Kiryu, but honestly not many. You can get major injuries which need a medical kit or doctor visit to heal, and if you don’t then you can’t restore your full health. There is a gang who has it in for Yagami and stalk the streets about every 45 minutes, increasing the number of fights you get into until their leaders are defeated or you wait them out. There’s a new investigation mode and two different lockpicking mini-games to suit the detective angle.

The mini-games and activities you’ll have seen around Kamurocho are mostly intact, with darts, arcade machines, the batting cages, and dating. However, there’s no karaoke, and the bowling alley has been replaced by a virtual reality parlour called Paradise VR. If you liked fighting tigers in that certain previous Yakuza game, then you’ll love Paradise VR… It’s also the best place to make money in all honesty, as once it has been upgraded you can clear a million yen per trip.

Random collectables make a return in Judgment too, as you’ll see coloured objects on the ground in random places. These are used for a couple of things, the first one being the new drone racing mini-game, as random odds-and-sods are apparently required to construct new parts to improve your drone. The second use is for the substances which replace weapons (as a former lawyer can’t use a cannon shaped like a swordfish apparently), called extracts. These give you short-term power-ups, and as I got some unlimited use extracts as part of the Xbox X|S version I was very much overpowered and I loved it. For instance, Heavenstrike calls down beams of energy from the sky to decimate your opponents and it’s one I used basically every chance I got (cooldown depending).

The side cases (formerly side stories but you’re a detective) run the usual gamut of “absolutely brilliant” to “insane crazy pants”, with one of them being an interesting take on an old classic with its cool boots, vital for any fisherman! As with most Yakuza games they’re the highlights of the game and even when you’re chasing after a “hat” carried off by the wind yet again it’s still fun. Completing side cases will result in Yagami making friends, and meeting them around town gives your special move bar a bit of a refill, so they’re well worth doing. One particular side case only unlocks when you have 50 friends, however.

Unfortunately, even though I played for 58 hours and 28 minutes and beat up almost 2,000 people, it wasn’t all fun for me. I’m not a fan of racing, and I don’t like sports. Luckily, the aforementioned drone racing mini-game is almost entirely optional, you don’t get anything more than completion bonuses for winning those. But the batting cages that I mentioned are difficult, and two friends are locked behind completing baseball challenges. You have to complete five different courses for one friend, and every single course for the other. The first friend lets you buy items to make the challenges easier, but I didn’t find them useful…

I had another friend that I couldn’t unlock simply because I have no idea how to play mahjong. I read the instructions twice and still barely worked out when to don and when to pancho… You have to win a game while this wildcard rule is in effect for this person to be your friend. I figured that I could use a cheat item, which cost me 10,000 experience points (the vendor doesn’t accept money) to win easier. It turned out to be a waste as the wildcard rule has to be affecting you, not another player. It’s not easy to get 10,000 experience points, since you use them to upgrade your abilities and health, and you only get a couple of dozen per fight. With all of the random chance inherent in gambling, I found that it wasn’t even worth my time as a money maker.

Apart from these niggles, however, Judgment was a great game and I really enjoyed the experience. It’s standalone enough that you can play it without having played the other games that Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio have made. While I’m sure there are people who don’t like these games for varying reasons, I’ve never seen them around the internet. And the internet hates everything. If the JRPG Yakuza: Like a Dragon isn’t to your taste and you want to play an action game set in the fictional town of Kamurocho with optional English voiceover, then this is specifically what you want to play.

Game Over
Andrew Duncan

Andrew Duncan


Guaranteed to know more about Transformers and Deadpool than any other staff member.

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