The RPS Advent Calendar 2022, December 8th
I know it’s day eight of the RPS Advent Calendar, but there’s no time for that. A serial killer is stalking the streets of Kamurocho, and you’re the only detective who can solve the case!
Reload them fists and investigate the bright streets of Tokyo in Judgment!
Ed: Judgment is an action-adventure game from Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, the folks behind the Yakuza games. Except that you don’t play as a member of the Yakuza, but as defensive attorney turned private detective Takayuki Yagami, who must help bring down Kamurocho’s crime network. This doesn’t mean it’s a tedious spin-off where you’re just being a nice dude putting thugs behind bars, oh no. Far from it.
The game starts with a murder mystery that – as you’d expect from RGG – quickly spirals into a dark web of conspiracy and corruption. But unlike many of the Yakuza games, frequent recaps and breezy case files make Judgment’s whodunnit story much easier to follow. Seriously, it’s refreshing to approach Kamurocho with a clean slate, and it’s one of the reasons why I reckon it might make a perfect entry point for folks who’ve not quite got on board with Yakuza in the past.
And the story is one which had me gripped all the way through, with twists and turns presented with the most lavish of cutscenes. Even with expectations adjusted – this is a melodrama, after all – it wraps murder-mystery with a surprisingly strong medical theme that I can’t speak any more about.
The thing that really makes the game tick, though, is its silliness, seen most especially in the side missions. Kamurocho’s residents murmur about a menace who roams the streams: Ass Catchem, a member of the Twisted Trio. But first, you must meet his compatriot: The PantyProfessor. There’s a handsome idol whose wig keeps blowing away in the wind, so you’ve got to sprint across the city after it. And it’s all a hilarious reprieve from the seriousness of the main story.
So yes, Judgment is a great entry point for newcomers, but what does it offer for fans of Yakuza? Why, everything you could possibly imagine. The combat is lithe and flashy, with ridiculous special moves where convenience store workers will chuck you hot food and you’ll stuff it down an enemy’s mouth to burn them senseless. Yagami and his gang are, arguably, more expressive than Kiryu and his mateys too, which adds some extra smug to thug beatdowns or chuckles to lighten the mood. Seriously, it’s a treat hanging with every one of your pals in the game.
Most importantly, Judgment pops you back into a wonderfully rendered Kamurocho, allowing you to see it from a slightly different perspective. Sure, a lot of it will be familiar, but there’s plenty of newness to crack on with. Like customizing your very own drone and participating in a drone racing league, which I can confirm is an extremely good time. There’s also this special VR Paradise mini-game where you roll dice and move across a virtual board, slugging baddies and upping your cash count along the way.
Judgment is a rare delight, honestly. A game with a great story, a gorgeous city to explore, and just a bunch of the best dossing about on the side. Get it in your library (please).