Judgment - PS4 Review

Sega are known for a lot of titles in the past few years with one of the bigger ones being their Yakuza series. Taking things in a bit of a different direction, or so I’m told as I have yet to play any entry into the series, Judgement sees a lawyer turned private eye Takayuki Yagami and his partner works cases in Kamurocho where the Yakuza series takes place. Essentially being the perfect marriage of Shenmue’s exploration and combat mixed in with Heavy Rain’s sleuthing, and I’ve got myself one of the best titles that I’ve sat down to all year.

From the get go, it was clear that Judgement was going to be a hell of a title. The graphics, the sound, the gameplay and the audio. Wow. Able to play in either Japanese or in English which has a stellar voice cast, you’ll be searching for clues, tailing people, interrogating or beating up punks while eating burgers and instant ramen bowls between fights. It’s this mix of martial arts combat and sleuthing that made me think of Shenmue. The open areas for exploration mixed in with plenty of little shops and arcades, I won’t deny that I stepped off the path a few times to get in some Viruta Fighter 5 time with my favorite character Sarah.

Integrating modern technology beautifully, your in game cellphone is part of the experience and not just a convenience for storytelling. Acting as your GPS, you’ll have your cellphone’s screen in the bottom right corner telling you were to go and if you should be watching your back while looking for where to go next. It’ll highlight stores, buildings that you can go into, the above mentioned gaming locations like the batting cage or the above mentioned arcade. You’ll see it all. If you want to see more of the map, you can “flip your phone horizontal” to move around it yourself and zoom in and out.

Side to using the GPS functions, you can also use your phone as the main menu. Inventory management, quest information, the map if you take the long way around, the actual games settings or saving. It’s all present and feels like it belongs as Yagami will always be looking at the device while you are on it. Other elements also come into play making it feel like a part of the overall when your partner sends you a drone’s feed or when he face time’s you.

This seemingly small detail allows for the rest to simply glide forward and in certain cases literally. Yagami is a martial artist who can develop new skills as you get skill points by either finding clues, successfully interrogating someone or by kicking the crap out of thugs either in story or just on the street Akiba’s Trip style. Basically meaning that you can use anything that you can get your hands on.

Starting off with both a Tiger and Crane moveset, you can easily switch between for one on one or one against many. The combat system is slick too which I’ve heard is based off of Yakuza 0. Yagami can block attacks, grapple and throw / punch / kick any opponent that he gets his hands on, dodge around, run up a wall and come back down for a haymaker, and so on. As you get comfortable with combat, you’ll want to start experimenting a bit more which is where your phone comes back into play as you open up the skill app and check in on what’s up for grabs.

Instead of just following a skill tree, abilities are split into three categories. The first are modifications like “”. The second has things like “” while the last has “”. Each of these are not mandatory to obtain but they do make your life easier.

And it’s all of these elements that come together that make for a fantastic experience as they are all present but none of them feel out of place. Judgement does a great job at allowing you to perform each of these styles of gameplay as you move forward so that none of them ever feel like it’s been too long.

Side to all of the beat ‘em up and the cellphone inclusion, it's sleuthing and the dialog that really takes the throne. Because of the well crafted dialog, listening to characters talk and interact is often better than sitting down to an amazing book. During these times however, it happens that questions pop up that you can ask in order to find out more details. Keeping things interesting in this regard, is that if you ask “the right” questions in order, you’ll be rewarded with bonus skill points that you can use to upgrade Yagami. If you don’t get the order right, you’ll still get all of the information, just none of the bonuses.

From there, finding out clues in either a full or a quick investigation is pretty cool. Moving into a first person mode, you can scan your current surroundings, or a picture in your hands, for clue or items that stick out to you. Blood splatters, lack of blood splatters, items in the vicinity that could give you a hint as to what you are looking for like a security camera, all of these help move you forward and uncover clues to what you are looking for. Sometimes these clues lead to easier times interrogating while other times, information from people will make scanning for clues easier because you know where to look.

Judgement is definitely on my game of the year list. The dialog, the gameplay and the visual representation are simply stellar. While it hasn’t been that long with something this heavy in narrative with plenty of gameplay, Judgement just feels like the whole package from the get go and holds on to what makes it so great even hours down the line.

Game Information

Sony PlayStation 4
Single Player
Other Platform(s):

Provided by Publisher

Article by Pierre-Yves


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