Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Release Date: April 23, 2021
Reviewed On: PS5
When I first played Judgment back in 2019, not once did I think, “Man, this game will be so much better on next-gen consoles.” Now, two years later, I’m back in Kamurocho to resolve some cases with a few updated visuals. Whether or not this is reason enough to return to the case, I feel like it’s important to highlight just how gorgeous this game is. I should preface this by explaining that this updated version highlights realism, which really delivers on the overall impact of the narrative.
Judgment introduces us to Takayuki Yagami, a young lawyer who has just acquitted his first client only to realize that he made a huge mistake. Haunted by this action, he quits his practice and focuses on establishing a detective agency with ex-Yakuza Masaharu Kaito. The two do their best to make ends meet but find themselves in the middle of a string of murders and no real suspects.
Each chapter has Yagami pulling at the thread of this case only to realize that it keeps getting longer and longer. The connections run deep into a world that he knows all too well, but without proper evidence and motive, there’s nothing he can do. He’s ultimately a character who never gives up, and small leads are enough to keep him motivated to dig deeper. This makes him many enemies in the long run, but his desire to see this through is stronger than a few black eyes.
In many ways, you can see this as his idea of redemption for his past, but he is also fueled by his dedication to what is right. Further, he is indebted to those close to him, which keeps him going in the long run. I feel like he’s such a good lead for this game as he has faults and impulses that make him a much more personable protagonist.
While gameplay takes place in the setting of the Yakuza series, Yagami approaches situations much differently than Kazuma Kiryu would. He’s much more strategized and calm during infiltration. The main story is also the biggest offering where side content is much more of an optional feature than something you’d typically look forward to in a Yakuza game. Yagami also has a more casual way of interacting with people where they aren’t scared or intimidated.
It’s enough to make this adventure feel different even if it shares the same city. Further, There are additional detective skills in place, which introduces the biggest issue with the game being the tailing missions. I know this is a huge thing in the world of detectives, but I wouldn’t say I liked these missions. However, I didn’t enjoy navigating the first person to investigate scenes and using evidence during interrogation. There are also drone missions, which of course, turns into a mini-game.
Now, let’s focus on this next-gen version of Judgment, as I feel like the updates provide a completely different experience compared to the original release. The developer really went in on color-correcting, effects, and overall lighting to make this a far more realistic version. It just feels like there’s more of a sense of realism here, which added impact to some of the heavier scenes.
This game is not subtle in its storytelling. Even though I’ve played it before, I couldn’t help but cringe at some rather unsightly scenes. Even during the fight scenes, I felt myself pull back a big as if I felt the impact of some of the punches and slams. The 60 frames per second lend a hand to this feeling, but ultimately, I think the realism does a much better job at selling the dramatic narrative than the previous version.
When playing the PS5 version, I felt there was far too much vibration in the controller and ended up turning it off within the first hour of playing. It just got a little old when everything I ran into caused the controller to shake.
Judgment offers its share of distractions and side-connect to sell the idea that Yagami is a detective, but I feel like it only takes away from the impact of the main story and could have just as easily done without it. However, I didn’t mind the missions that led to dates, so maybe I just enjoy action or love with nothing in between.
Judgment on next-gen consoles provided a completely new experience through some amazing visual updates. I was genuinely immersed in the world and felt more attached to the narrative than I have ever been before. If you have yet to experience this game, then do yourself a favor and play this version. On the other hand, if you’re looking to run around Kamurocho again as a Detective Yagami, then this is the perfect way to replay the adventure. However, it won’t make you a fan of the trailing missions.
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