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Judgement - Video Game Review

Steven - AV July 26, 2019

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Though it’s not titled as such, Judgment is a spin-off of the Yakuza series of Japanese mobster action games. It takes place in the same fictional red-light district of Kamurocho, and it’s still packed full of minigames, side stories, and ludicrously over-the-top martial arts. But this time, the action unfolds from the perspective of Takayuki Yagami, a disgraced former lawyer turned private detective on the hunt for a serial killer. That Yagami ostensibly investigates crimes, of course, does little to change the games’ basic template, where every new plot development or trip around open-world Kamurocho embroils him in a bone-crunching street fight. The Yakuza series has honed this familiar progression for years, and Judgment, with a fresh story that’s even dubbed into English, is as much an ideal entry point as a well-oiled victory lap. The new cast seems to invigorate the storytelling while still pitting the relatively straight-laced Yagami against an onslaught of weirdos in the game’s frequent, endearing detours into weird comedy. But even for as smoothly as the game moves along, it’s hard not to feel that Judgment stubbornly remains in its comfort zone. Actual moments of detective work, where you tail suspects or look around crime scenes or question witnesses, are rigidly guided with few exceptions. You’re never really asked to draw conclusions or make deductions so much as engage in perfunctory little interactions, as if the game needs to prove every once in a while in the most basic fashion that yes, you are playing as a detective. Across the game’s rather long runtime, the thrill of the new eventually melts into the comfort of the familiar. Overall Rating: B

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