Head back out into the streets of Kamurocho.
Sega recently wrapped up what may be looked at as the first era of the Yakuza series, with the story of longtime series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu coming to an end- but that’s not the end for the franchise, nor for the world that Sega have created with it. For starters, there’s more Yakuza games coming, but there’s also Judgment, a spinoff of sorts that is set in the same universe but promises a pretty different experience.
After much anticipation (and a fair bit of controversy), Judgment’s western release is almost upon us, and as we look ahead to the day of its launch, in this feature, we’ll be taking a look at fifteen things you should know about the game. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Judgment follows the story of Takayuki Yagami, a former lawyer who is now a private detective. While we’ll be spending some time loking into Yagami’s past and how and why he changed professions (among other things), the main drive of the story comes from a string of serial murders of three Yakuza members, with Yagami deciding to dig deeper into them.
Judgment will be set in the Japanese city of Kamurocho, a creation of Sega’s that fans of the Yakuza series will be very, very familiar with. You can expect to see similar assets, familiar locations, and landmarks that have popped up in Yakuza games in the past.
As we’ve mentioned, there’s a pretty strong connection between Judgment and Yakuza. The game is, obviously, a spinoff of Sega’s bigger franchise, set in the same universe and location- but don’t expect too many narrative connections. The developers have made it pretty clear that barring the similarities we’ve already spoken, as far as the story itself is concerned, Judgment is very much going to be its own separate thing.
Combat, at least, will be similar to what we’ve seen in Yakuza titles- more specifically, you can expect it to be familiar if you’ve played Yakuza 0, or Kiwami. What that means is that you’ll be able to employ several different fighting styles, and will be able to switch in and out of them to suit your needs and wants.
Unlike Yakuza, a huge chunk of Judgment is going to be about investigations- which makes sense, since you’re a private investigators. Investigations, which will take place in first person, will task you with looking for clues to crack cases, and will present some interesting mechanics. For instance, if, say, you’re looking for a specific person, you’ll have to make sure that all their visual attributes and details match with the information that you’ve gathered about them previously.
TRAILING MISSIONS, EAVESDROPPING, AND MORE
There will be other investigation-related mechanics to dive into as well. For one, there will be trailing missions, which will see you having to manage a gauge that tells you how aware the person you’re trailing is aware of the fact that they’re being trailed. You’ll also have to eavesdrop on conversations to get new clues and information, while there will also be plenty of lockpicking shenanigans.
Dialogue options will also play a role as you attempt to gather new information to build your cases. As a former lawyer-turned-private detective, you’ll have to pick options that make sure you present yourself as calm and collected, and can convince the people you’re speaking with to divulge the information you need.
As a private detective, Yagami won’t just have to rely on his skills and instincts. He’ll have some other toys to play around with as well. For instance, there’ll be the drone, called Pigeon, which players will be able to use to not only discover more of the city, but also to take photos- and participate in some side activities, which we’ll get to in a bit.
Yagami won’t be spending all his time on the streets of Kamurocho. In his office, he will also have a place to call home. Players will be able to head back here to meet characters and to progress the story at certain points, while there will also be an upgrade system in place to allow you to decorate the place.
Of course there’s going to be side activities. Coming from the people who make Yakuza, and being set in the same universe, it would be weird if there weren’t. While there’s no karaoke (that we know of yet), there’s other things to do, like heading into shops to eat food, or even participate in some drone races with your trusty Pigeon.
While Yakuza games over the past many years have been brought over to the west with no English dubs and only subtitles to tide us over, Judgment will be localized with full dual audio (and subtitles in multiple languages, of course). That said, the localization team has tried to keep the Japanese culture inherent in the game intact, such as using Japanese honourifics even during English speech.
Judgment is going to be a pretty meaty experience, and you can expect it to keep you occupied for a good amount of time. The developers have said that the main story can take between 30 and 35 hours to finish, while with side activities, that number can go up to as much as 70 hours. Developers usually tend to give bloated figures when it comes to play time, so we don’t know how accurate these will be, but we can at least get an idea that it’s going to be a pretty long game.
NO CHANGES IN CONTENT FOR WESTERN RELEASE
Though Judgment will have full English audio (and all the other changes that go along with localization, such as lip syncing), the rest of the game is going to be the exact same as its Japanese release. There will be no content changes, no censorship- just Judgment, as it was made by the developers.
MAY COME TO PC
Sega have said that Judgment might not remain exclusive to the PS4. A PC release is being considered for the game, and though it will depend on how well it does, it may very well end up coming out on Steam (and other storefronts). Considering the fact that we’ve seen PC releases for Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami, and Yakuza Kiwami 2 in quick succession, similar treatment for Judgment seems like a viable option.
This won’t come as much of a surprise to a lot of people, but Judgment has already seen plenty of success in Japan since its release in the country in December. Critical reception has been solid, while sales wise, the game has sold through almost its entire stock. If that’s any indication of how good the game is – which, of course, it is – then we’re in for a good time.