Japanese video game studio Ryu ga Gotoku’s hit mob game series, Yakuza’s spin-off title, Judgement is set to release on the 23rd of April. The investigative, adventure beat-em-up is set to debut on gaming platforms PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S, and X, as well as Google’s mobile game streaming platform, Stadia.
Unlike it’s parent-title, the Yakuza spin-off cuts a darker, more broody undertone as one plays a former lawyer turned investigator, who must delve deeper into Tokyo’s underbelly to discover the mystery behind a recent spate of murders. Judgement offers just enough investigative activity to keep players enthralled, but does much of the decision making for the player. The title offers a fresh, more fast-paced take on the detective game genre.
The Judgement narrative is told in chapters throughout the lengthy, yet engaging, title’s gameplay. As the main character – voiced by Japanese superstar, Takuya Kimura – players of the title will find that it has a combat mechanism similar to previous Yakuza titles, Yakuza 0, and Yakuza Kiwami. Aside from almost endless combat, the game I’ll have one employing the title’s Investigation Mode, to sniff out clues and witnesses.
As previously mentioned, the story follows the investigative exploits of Takayuki Yagami. A complex character, and former lawyer, who – after discovering that he had helped keep a murderer from going to prison – quit his Forster father’s law firm, and set up a small private investigation firm with friend – and former crime family member – Masaharu Kaito.
Yagami wanders the criminal underworld of fictional Tokyo district, Kamurocho, investigating a murder mystery. Three crime bosses have been murdered in similar fashion, within the space of just three months. Yagami walks the same world that plays womb to the narrative as the rest of the Yakuza series, so players can expect the game to seem quite familiar in look, and feel. The biggest change, from original Yakuza titles, is the game’s pacing, and resolution – 60 frames per second.
Gotaku really threw on all the bells, and whistles to make sure it plays like a gripping investigative drama. Between fighting baddies, and gathering information from clues and witnesses, the player is gifted with brief – human – moments that make the game feel more like a movie who’s narrative involves the viewer. From simply having a cigarette in your own private corner, to mundane cat related mysteries.
The game is not without it’s real-world influences, many of the brands found in-game, are real world brands. There’s a running joke about a ponzi scheme known as Kickstarter – get it? The game even features a pop culture spoof of a hit US detective series.
Fans of the original Yakuza series will probably appreciate the fact that the game was not too extreme, a deviation, from the original title. Fans who will experience the series for the first time, through the spin-off, will be treated to a slower-paced, more cerebral, initiation into Kamurocho. The multiple layers to the game’s story, and cut scenes will really create the effect of being sucked into a detective flick.