Judgment (video game)
|Developer(s)||Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio|
PS5, Stadia, Xbox Series X/S
Judgment[a] is an action-adventure video game developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio and published by Sega. A spin off to the Yakuza series, initial development of the game began in 2015 under the codename Project Judge. Sega released it for the PlayStation 4 on December 13, 2018, in Japan, and on June 25, 2019, worldwide. A remastered version of the game, under the subtitle Remastered[b] in Japan and Asia, was released for the PlayStation 5, Stadia and Xbox Series X/S on April 23, 2021. The game follows lawyer-turned-detective Takayuki Yagami as he and his allies explore a case involving corpses whose eyes have been removed. The player controls Yagami in the fictional Tokyo district of Kamurocho, where he fights thugs and yakuza while carrying out side missions which involve chasing, stealth and searching for clues.
Toshihiro Nagoshi wrote the game. He wanted to write a new type of story with a detective working on a case that contrasted with the team's work in Yakuza. As a result, the developers designed the game to be accessible to detective-game newcomers. They cast singer and actor Takuya Kimura, who provided both facial features and Japanese voice acting, to play Yagami. Due to popular demand, the game was given an English voice-acting option; several additional languages were used to attract more gamers. Alexandros performed two songs during the game.
Judgment was withdrawn from the Japanese market in March 2019 following the arrest of Pierre Taki, one of the game's actors, for suspected cocaine use. While localizing Judgment for international markets, Taki's likeness was removed and his vocal performance replaced. The game received a generally positive response from critics. Many praised the game's plot and side content but criticized the simplicity of its investigation mechanics. Judgment has been a commercial success while also being recognized by awards as one of the best video games released in 2019. The remaster also attracted positive response for improving the game's framerate and visuals.
Judgment is an action-adventure game with a third-person perspective. The game follows private detective Takayuki Yagami as he investigates a serial-murder case in Kamurocho, a fictional district of Tokyo, Japan, previously featured in the Yakuza franchise. When asked about similarities between Judgment and other Yakuza titles, series creator Toshihiro Nagoshi said that "the location and assets might be the same, but the gameplay and story here are drastically different". Yagami can buy healing items in real life-based stores to restore his health, like in the Yakuza games. He can also suffer a major wound if an enemy weapon, like a sword, strikes him. This decreases Yagami's maximum health, and meals cannot restore it. The player can meet a doctor who treats people in secret who can either treat Yagami to erase the major damage or they can sell an item that will heal his wounds.
Judgment features a similar combat system to that of Yakuza 0, where players can change between two different fighting styles at will: crane-style, focused on fighting groups of enemies, and tiger-style, focused on fighting individuals. Yagami also incorporates parkour elements, like wall-running and leapfrogging, in his fighting style. Like the previous games, Yagami can enter a "Rage" form where he becomes stronger in battle. Should Masaharu Kaito help him, both characters can perform team up Heat combos. By accomplishing sidequests or achievements in the main narrative, the game rewards the player with a point that can enhance Yagami's skills and well as teach him new techniques. As downloadable content, Yagami can perform Qi techcniques.
The game also features an investigation mode, where the player must search a scene for clues and evidence of a crime. Players must infiltrate areas by lock picking and use disguises to gather information or find objects of interest. The game also has sections where the player must pursue a suspect. These take the form of tailing sequences, where players must follow a suspect while avoiding being seen, and chase sequences, where players must avoid oncoming obstacles while running to catch a fleeing suspect.
Yagami can take on several "side cases" in addition to the main storyline, similar to the "substories" in other Yakuza games. He can pick these up by looking at the noticeboard in his office, asking at the Genda Law Office or Bar Tender, or by walking the streets of Kamurocho. Certain meetings trigger a "Friendship" level that can evolve across the game through interacting with a character. While some of these require finishing sidequests, scenarios inspired by dating sims games can also be found. Like other Yakuza titles, the player can find minigames and side activities scattered around Kamurocho, which include drone racing, a virtual reality board game and fully playable versions of Space Harrier, Fantasy Zone, Fighting Vipers, Motor Raid, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown and Puyo Puyo.
Defense attorney Takayuki Yagami investigates and successfully clears hospital worker Shinpei Okubo of a murder charge. However, Okubo is arrested shortly thereafter for allegedly murdering his girlfriend. Guilt-ridden, Yagami resigns from his law firm. Three years later, Yagami has become a private detective in Tokyo's Kamurocho district and accepts investigation requests with his partner, ex-Tojo clan member Masaharu Kaito. A serial killer has been murdering yakuza members in Kamurocho and removing their eyes. Yagami accepts a murder case concerning a Matsugane clan captain, Kyohei Hamura, who is suspected of killing a Kyorei clan member using the same methods. Yagami proves Hamura's innocence, though he suspects that he is working with the killer Yagami dubs the Mole.
Yagami's former colleague and teacher, Masamichi Shintani, is the Mole's next vicitm. Hearing a recent call on Shintani's phone for Dr. Yoji Shono of the Advanced Drug Development Center (ADDC), Yagami questions ADDC director Ryusuke Kido about Shintani, to no avail. After further investigation, Yagami meets construction mogul Shigeru Kajihira at a Kyorei clan hideout. Kajihira reveals a failed plan to seize land around the ADDC for redevelopment, which was foiled when researchers claimed to have discovered AD-9, a potential cure for Alzheimer's disease. Kajihira bribed then ADDC vice-director Toru Hashiki to discredit AD-9 only for the latter to die from injuries sustained in an apparent drunken brawl. Kajihira asks Yagami to investigate Hashiki's death as he suspects he was murdered to cover up something related to AD-9.
Yagami is informed that Kazuya Ayabe, a crooked cop, has been arrested on suspicion of being the Mole. Yagami and Kaito find Hamura hiding out in an underground illegal gambling den and question him about his connection to the Mole. Yagami concludes that Shono may be organizing the murders before Hamura is rescued by Matsugane clan members. He theorizes that the Mole's killings are human experiments to test the effectiveness of AD-9. Yagami also theorizes that Okubo did not kill his girlfriend; Shono killed her to frame Okubo so that Waku's death would not be reinvestigated.
Kaito is taken hostage by Hamura, forcing Yagami to storm a Matsugane hideout. Yagami defeats and captures Hamura with the help of the latter's superior, Mitsugu Matsugane. Both interrogate him, learning that Hamura worked as a human trafficker for the ADDC and helped frame Ayabe for Shintani's murder. The Mole appears and shoots at Hamura, but Matsugane shields him and is killed. Hamura reveals that the Mole is Mitsuru Kuroiwa, a detective in the Metropolitan Organized Crime division, and gives Yagami definitive evidence that the ADDC participated in Shintani's murder.
During Ayabe's trial, Japanese Vice-minister of Health Kaoru Ichinose covertly arranges a hit on Kuroiwa. The assassins are killed by Kuroiwa, but he is chased and defeated by Yagami. Kuroiwa is murdered by the police shortly afterwards when he threatens Shono, who then dies himself by taking AD-9 after mistakenly believing that it was completed. The court acquits Ayabe; chief prosecutor Kunihiko Morita and Ichinose are imprisoned for their involvement and Kajihira is placed under investigation. Okubo is freed after three years on death row, and Yagami and Kaito decide to resume being ordinary private detectives.
The development of Judgment began in 2015. It was first hinted at in August 2018 during a Sega live stream by series' director Toshihiro Nagoshi, who called it "something completely different". Nagoshi, who conceived of the game several years before, worked hard to release it as quickly as possible. Sega scheduled it to be on Japanese store shelves in December, with a planned Western release in 2019. Hosokawa and Nagoshi refrained from calling Judgment a spin-off from Yakuza, despite its development by the same team, because of its different narrative. Before the game's Japanese release, Sega released a demo of Judge Eyes on the Japanese PlayStation Network. Judgment was announced under the Japanese title of Judge Eyes on September 10, 2018, on the PlayStation Lineup Tour, shortly before the 2018 Tokyo Game Show. The announcement was made to market the game for the Japanese holidays; its production had been completed, and the team was busy debugging it. The game's first chapter was first released as a demo on November 29, 2018, in Japan.
The game uses the Dragon engine to produce graphics similar to Yakuza 6. The team enhanced the engine to improve character design, changing the game's lighting to emphasize its theme of "legal suspense". The staff decided to explore the fictional city of Kamurocho (from Yakuza), using a different approach. Like in Yakuza, real-world shops, such as Don Quijote, were used to impart realism. Nagoshi said that he enjoyed the finished product. A "friendship system" was developed to solidify Yagami's characterization as he forms bonds with several of non-playable characters and develops them into the setting. His traits are balanced in the main story and the sidequests for fans who want a balance between seriousness and comedy. His seriousness is explored in the main story, and comedy is featured in sidequests.
Although Hosokawa wanted to provide gamers with as much content as Yakuza 0 (30–35 hours to finish the main story and over 100 hours to complete all of Yagami's cases and friendships), he said that the team refrained from using returning characters from the Yakuza series. Since Yagami is a lawyer, they wanted to give players the option of emulating his actions by choosing his thoughts. Some segments involving friendship were made to emulate dating sims. According to Nagoshi, it was tricky to decide how expansive or difficult the detective work should be. The game was made to be accessible to the casual player, but also challenging. The detective story was also challenging, since the cast had to follow the Mole case. Action segments were deisgned for more-skilled gamers, making them carefully plan the abilities to give Yagami.
According to Nagoshi, Korean films were the primary influences on the detective character. Since the story of Yakuza series' protagonist Kazuma Kiryu ended with Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, the Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio's game developers wanted to create a distinctive character for Judgment. At the behest of producer Kazuki Hosokawa, the team decided the character should be a detective. To generate a major contrast between the leads, staff wanted to make Yagami a more relatable character based on the troubles he suffers in the narrative that caused him to quit being a lawyer. Details of Yagami's past and his new life as a detective were elaborated upon to attract players to him. Because of the popularity of detective stories, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio wrote Yagami as a man who would become more knowledgeable during the game alongside the player. The biggest influence was the Paul Newman film The Verdict where his character suffers a crisis over his career as a lawyer similar to Yagami's. Writers, Nagoshi and Masayoshi Yokoyama, who had worked on Yakuza 0, wrote the narrative to make it darker than the studio's previous titles but also balanced it with humor.
Early in Judgment's production, the Sega staff considered using a star to develop Yagami and chose Takuya Kimura. Nagoshi remembers being surprised and thrilled when Kimura was selected because of the number of plot twists they could use with him. But he was also concerned the fans would consider the game lighthearted because of the stylish Kimura compared with the team's previous work. Several of the character's elements were produced with Kimura's approval. Since detective dramas are uncommon in gaming, Hosokawa wanted Yagami to stand out; creating the new character presented a challenge. For Yagami to succeed properly Kiryu, the developer, wanted him "more grounded to fit the noir vibe". According to Nagoshi:
"[W]hen you're writing a story and there's a really solid character that's been around for a long time, the character dictates what happens next ... In contrast to that, with Yagami, at the start of development we didn't really have anything attached to him at all. It was a challenge, but also an opportunity for a development team that has been working so long on the same series."
Realistic detectives inspired the team's portrayal of Yagami's life and work. The plot focused originally on romance; this was eliminated because Nagoshi felt it would affect the game's courtroom-thriller feel. Although not being a Yakuza game, Scott Strichart discussed that the portrayals of yakuza are faithful to the main series due to multiple characters being involved in the clans. However, Yagami was noted for standing out within the cast as he has multiple life choices in contrast to other cast members who are forced to be yakuza.
To fit the scenario, multiple actors were chosen based on their experience. Akira Nakao plays lawyer Takashi Genda, who originally looked after Yagami during the time he was not a detective. Similarly, Shosuke Tanihara was cast as detective Mitsuru Kuroiwa because of his strong visual appearance to make impressive scenes when he and Kimura appear together. Pierre Taki was cast to portray famous criminals with his character, Kyohei Hamura. While Yagami is linked with multiple female characters, none of them were created as a love interest, as the staff avoided using romance in the narrative. Other recurring actors include, among others: Kenichi Takitoh as the detective Kazuya Ayabe, Shinshū Fuji as the former yakuza Masaharu Kaito and Risa Shimizu as Mafuyu Fujii.
Nagoshi felt using Japanese band Alexandros would appeal to audience in the same way Shōnan no Kaze fit Yakuza 0 as he believes both groups give a approach. Nagoshi gave the team freedom and there were not major issues. Two theme songs were created for the game: "Arpeggio" and "Your Song". The band created these themes for Judgment along with the one in the Bleach live action film while they were in the United States. They sent their work to Japan in a video and received a positive response. Nagoshi showed the band a demo of the game which enabled them to write a song quickly. The studio spent considerable time choosing the right band for the songs. "Arpeggio" was made on the rooftop of the Brooklyn studio. Member Yohei took a liking to an arpeggio that another musician happened to be playing on his guitar, so they took a break during their recording session and wrote that song on acoustic guitars on the roof. Alexandros were excited with composing the two theme songs with Nagoshi saying the idea of both themes is to give diversity and describe the drama Sega created. A three-CD soundtrack was released in Japan on April 15, 2019.
Sega released the game in Japan on December 13, 2018. They halted Japanese sales of the game on March 13, 2019, after Pierre Taki, a Japanese actor whose voice and likeness had been used for the character of Kyohei Hamura, was arrested by officers of the Narcotics Control Department (NCD) of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare for cocaine possession and use. Sega did not comment on whether Taki's arrest would affect Judgment's Western release. According to the NCD, Taki had been under investigation since 2018 following tips from unnamed sources and was asked to submit a urine sample.
After Taki's arrest, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio producer Daisuke Sato tweeted that he would not allow Taki's arrest to interrupt the game's success or allow the actor's contribution to the game to be deleted. CyberConnect2 president Hiroshi Matsuyama criticized companies that stop marketing their products when a person connected with their work is arrested. Sega later said that Taki's voice and likeness would be replaced, but the game's planned Western release date was unchanged. The character's new design was not based on any actor. Sega announced the release of a new version in Japan on July 18, 2019, with a new character model and actor Miō Tanaka replacing Taki in the role of Kyohei Hamura.
A remastered version of the game, under the subtitle Remastered in Japan and Asia, was released for the PlayStation 5, Stadia and Xbox Series X/S on April 23, 2021. The remaster features faster loading times and 60 frames-per-second as well as the entire downloadable content from the original PlayStation 4 release.
Sega released the game worldwide on June 25, 2019. Unlike previous games developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios, they gave Judgment an English dub. This was conceived following the release of Yakuza 0. Since Kiryu's games were always released in Japanese, Sega thought it might be unsuitable to give the cast of Yakuza 6: Song of Life an English dub. As a result, Sega believed that starting a dub with Judgment might be more fitting, as they looked at different ways of attracting newcomers. Sega announced that for the first time, the franchise would receive an English dub; other languages would follow. The company's rationale for the dub and the short timeframe before its release was a response to increased fan demand; the staff said that the game's Western version would be identical to the Japanese one. Scott Strichart, localization producer for the Yakuza series, ordered the western release to have two subtitle tracks: one with Japanese audio and English subtitles matching the Japanese translation, and the other matching the English dub. There were also localizations in French, German, Italian, and Spanish focused on the Japanese audio. The Remastered version also has dual audio and 5 subtitle languages, plus 3 languages that were originally separate subtitle languages, Japanese, Traditional Chinese and Korean, along with the new Asian language introduced in Yakuza: Like a Dragon International, Simplified Chinese, for a total of 9 subtitle languages. The developers believed they had managed to make the dubbed Yagami identical to the Japanese version in terms of characterization, despite different words being used in the translation. Following the changes, the staff made revisions to the character's facial animations to fit the lip-syncing. In scripting, Strichart insisted that the English actors keep using Japanese honorifics to retain the Japanese cast's impact. A game demo became available in August 2019 for English-speaking regions.
During the game, there is a scene where players control Saori Shirosaki in a hostess club. Strichart told game website Polygon that, "[s]ensitive scenes are tricky to get right", and that the team had to be careful when dubbing this. He added that to bring realism into the narrative, characters' responses to Shirosaki would come across as "uncomfortable" as the non-playable characters were unsympathetic during this scene. Since the Yakuza series was popular primarily thanks to the male demographic, Strichart wanted English language gamers to understand how gross men can be as they controlled Shirosaki compared with the Japanese scene where the men are attracted by her looks.
Multiple auditions were held to cast the English actors with a positive result according to Strichart. The team aimed to make the English dub as natural as possible. Greg Chun was pleasantly surprised when he was selected to voice Yagami in Judgment, since he was familiar with the franchise. Chun said, "I'm super psyched to be a part of this game", and that he liked what he had seen of the character. He called his work in the game satisfying: "It really did require me to let go of the tricks that you use to push a performance through, and I really did need to fall back on authenticity and genuine groundedness." Although he found the faithfulness to the original Japanese audio challenging, Chun was pleased with his character's balance of seriousness and comedy; however, the game's screaming segments were difficult. Noting that fans tended to choose the original Japanese audio, Chun suggested that they try the English dub to test his voice. He was surprised by Yagami's deep character arc (involving him in the present while dealing with his past life as a lawyer), and said that he would never forget the role. Matthew Mercer enjoyed voicing Kuroiwa but found the character's different tones challenging. Crispin Freeman enjoyed his work because he considered Kaito to be likeable. Other actors include Brian McNamara as Genda, Matthew Yang King as Ayabe and Cherami Leigh as Fujii.
|Windows Central||4/5 (remaster)|
Judgment received "generally favourable" reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic. Due to Kimura's popularity within Judgment, Japanese fans have often nicknamed the game Kimutaku no Gotoku (キムタクが如く, lit. "Like KimuTaku") with "Kimutaku" being a short of Takuya Kimura while "Gotoku" ("Like a" Japanese) as a reference to the original Japanese title of the Yakuza franchise: Like a Dragon.
Although its gameplay was praised, critics had mixed opinions about its case-solving elements. Hobby Consolas praised the game for relying on multiple types of gameplay, giving the Yakuza spin-off more variety. According to a VideoGamer reviewer, gamers attracted to the Yakuza series would enjoy Judgment because of its similarities in action. He noted that the fighting system was superior to Sega's latest game, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, and would attract fans; the varied side missions gave players far more playing time. Although a GameInformer reviewer liked the action, they found the tailing missions frustrating and that the investigation areas did penalize a player for failing them. USGamer said that the tailing missions might drag, but the new chasing missions were more entertaining. Destructoid agreed, disliking the former but enjoying the latter; the reviewer felt that the action scenes were not difficult. Tristan Ogilvie of IGN praised the game's combat system and diversified side content but criticized its shallow investigation mechanics saying, "There's surprisingly little room given to make your own decisions." Edmond Tran of GameSpot described the game's tailing and chasing sections "dull, slow and arduous", and called the investigation sections "incredibly straightforward". Nevertheless, he enjoyed the melee combat for the options it gives to the player. GamesRadar+ writer Bradley Russel criticized the core gameplay as "lacking in its execution" and over-relying on combat, rather than investigation. On the other hand, Hardcore Gamer enjoyed the balance between the different style of gameplay. RPGamer.com also praised the action elements but felt that the develeopers needed to fix the detective sections.
The plot was generally well-received. Because it introduced a new cast instead of reusing characters, GameInformer found the story "refreshing" and called Yagami's investigations intriguing. USGamer also praised the story for standing on its own, despite Yagami's similarities to Kazuma Kiryu; the new lead character had his own way of life. A Destructoid reviewer said that despite the game's similarity to Yakuza—because of its balance of seriousness and comedy—Judgment had a unique narrative which they felt was on a par with Hollywood films. B. Russell praised the story, calling it "potentially one of the best in the medium". VideoGamer liked the game for using deep moral themes which would entertain players for many hours. GameSpot praised the storyline and Yagami and Kaito, calling them "genuinely likable characters". A HobbyConsolas reviewer noted that Sega added subtitles for the first time for languages other than English making Judgment far more accessible, but Yagami was a less appealing character than Kiryu. Hardcore Gamer regarded the storyline as "the closest one can get to an entry point for those anxious about such an overbearing legacy that the Yakuza series presents" and how the Dragon Engine provides for facial expressions that are important for solving cases.
VideoGamer's reviewer liked the original Japanese cast's striking performances, despite the reviewer's initial preference for an English dub. The English voice actors' performances were praised; Ogilvie called the game's English voice acting "excellent", but noticed an inconsistent lack of English lip-syncing. EGM Now said Chun gave a more striking performance than Kimura, whom the writer did not find suitable for the character. RPGamer praised Sega's decision to add two languages to the audio, praising both Japanese and English versions equally.
Several Giant Bomb reviewers listed Judgment as one of their favorite games from 2019, with Chris Tilton listing it at the top. USGamer included it in its list of the twenty best games of 2019. Despite not being an official Yakuza game, PushSquare listed it as the third best game in the franchise based on its accessibility in terms of narrative and complexity of the gameplay.
The remastered version of the game attracted positive response in Metacritic for both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X. Both David Martínez from HobbyConsolas and Stan Yeung from Gaming Age found that the framarate was stable regardless of a large enemy count while the visuals still remained polish. GameSpew felt the loading times were noticably improved, making the pacing superior. Microsoft Windows went on to state that thanks to the superior framerate Yagami moves faster than previous Yakuza characters. However, the reviewer claimed that the graphics' update might bother fans due to the new lighting that change colors in order to make the characters more realistic looking. CGMagonline noted that the original Judgment suffered to maintain the 30 frame rate per second most notably during combat, thus making the remaster have the advantage of more fastpaced fights while also surpassing Yakuza 6 which used the same engine and suffered multiple similar issues. RPGFan went to further praise the new style provided in the remaster's visuals as it changes "to the lighting have given Kamurocho a bluer, cooler appearance, better fitting the noir feel of the game."
|2019||PSLS Game of the Year 2019 Awards||Best Adventure Game 2019||Won|||
|RPG Gamer Awards||Best Voice Acting||Won|||
|DualShockers||Best PS4 Game, Best Narrative, Best Open World, Game of the Year 2019||Won|||
|Famitsu Awards||Excellence Prize||Won|||
|Japan Game Awards||Award for Excellence||Won|||
|2019 Golden Joystick Awards||PlayStation Game of the Year||Nominated|||
|2020||NAVGTR Awards||Original Light Mix Score, Franchise||Nominated|||
|Performance in a Drama, Lead (Takuya Kimura)||Nominated|
|Performance in a Drama, Supporting (Pierre Taki)||Nominated|
|Song, Original or Adapted ("Arpeggio" by Alexandros)||Nominated|
Imported sales of Judgment rose in Japan when the game was withdrawn from Japanese store shelves; about 97 percent of its stock was sold, and it reached number three on Amazon's sales rankings. Nagoshi stated that although the sudden interest in the game because of the controversy was disappointing, he was "glad in any case". Kazuki Hosokawa considered a Steam port possible in April 2019 but was unsure about this as the team was still working on Yakuza ports. In 2019 Nagoshi said that while Sega claimed there was already work put into a sequel, it was a rumor. According to Media Create, the game had a strong opening in its first week in Japan with sales of 148,246 physical copies. It went to sell 292,637 physical copies by 2019. Judgment' made it the most successful release for a new IP for the eighth generation of video game consoles in the country, although this record was later broken by Death Stranding. Producer Daisuke Sato said that Western sales of Judgment had exceeded expectations. Upon its release week, the PlayStation 5 version of the game sold 5,539 physical copies in Japan. The original version sold 3,192 physical copies.
Although producer Kazuki Hosokawa said in April 2019 that the studio planned to port the game to the PC for wider audience appeal, this was unconfirmed.
Rumors of a sequel were reported by publications in March 2021, hinting the return of both Yagami and Kaito. In April of the same year the official website announced a major tease related to Judgment on May 7 titled "Judgment Day". The official twitter account of the game also revealed new footage of Yagami, hinting the sequel.
On May 6, 2021, a day before Judgment Day, Lost Judgment, the sequel, was leaked by Playstation Network in Japan. According to Playstation Network, it is supposed to come out on September 21 (at least the Digital Deluxe edition).
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