One of the criticisms I have of current gen gaming is that there is typically a lack of risk, and a reluctance on the part of developers to try something different. It is mainly due to the financial risks, as if it goes wrong, it could spell the end of the developer (Looking at you, Bioware with Anthem). So when the giant Japanese developer, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios do something different, other than a Yakuza game, it’s time to sit up and take notice.
The game has already been released in Japan to critical acclaim, and at the end of this month, fans in the Western hemisphere can finally get to discover what all the fuss is about.
Although on the face of it the game looks just like any immensely fun and polished Yakuza game, and indeed the same assets have been used, they have added massive gameplay twists into this Yakuza spin-off universe to spice the gameplay up.
Here are my top five things I’m looking forward to doing in Judgement.
1 – Investigations
Nothing gets my blood pumping more than a little Bond style, secret service, MI6 skulduggery, and with criminal investigation being a key element in this game, you can fill your detective/secret agent boots. Lock picking, trailing, eavesdropping and other new gaming experiences offer different ways to uncover the truth, and will provide inventive and interesting ways to progress the game and its story, other than just in combat. When the evidence has been collected, the game then goes all Ace Attorney – Phoenix Wright on you, as you then have to go through dialogue choices to alter the conversations the way you want them. It’s too much of a stretch to expect the game to have a branching narrative as complex as Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain, but you can expect some exquisitely thought out and tough conversation choices to dwell over.
2 – Combat
Combat has always been a strong point of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios games, however Judgment will feature new fighting styles not used in the Yakuza games. The Yakuza series are famed for their over the top, incredibly entertaining fighting mechanics, so with new styles here in Judgment, be ready to be thrilled all over again in new and inventive ways.
It never gets old smashing faces with feet, or indeed whatever the game lets you pick up from the surrounding area. So get back from a hard day at work and go smash some Yakuza thugs, all in the name of finding the truth.
3 – Story
One of the most overlooked aspects of the Yakuza series, is the incredibly deep, enriched, enthralling narratives. It beggars belief to me that in the West, the Yakuza series are never nominated for gaming awards for their storytelling or voice acting roles. Fascinating characters, excellent dialogue, superb voice acting and humorous lines are a hallmark of Ryu Ga Gotoku studios’ work. With a new setting and new characters to fall in love with, expect only the very best storyline here.
4 – Exploration
One of the joys of the Yakuza games is simply wandering around and discovering fun things to do. I’m not just talking side missions here, I’m talking simple dicking around antics available in the game. Each Yakuza game had something different to find than the last, ranging from playing board games, playing pool or baseball, to the slightly awkward feeling of becoming a studio photographer of scantily clad women! The developers always make their games alive and a place you want to spend time just doing anything you like. Expect more surprises here in the Judgment universe.
5 – The Unexpected
New games mean new stuff, and the unknown surprise. No one manages to pull off ways to surprise the gamer more than Ryu Go Gotoku – it’s why I personally rate them as one of the best game developers on the planet. It could be a narrative shock you weren’t expecting, a hilarious side mission you find yourself discovering, or a brutal new face smashing combat move that is visceral, self indulgent fun. It’s all of the above or more you didn’t know you were going to like. No two Ryu Go Gotoku games are ever quite the same and it’s a thrilling gaming experience to dive deep into what they deliver.
So there are my top five reasons to look forward to playing Judgment, although there could be many more to add to the list by the time I finish the game.
Be prepared to be thrilled and excited in new ways for what could be the sleeper hit of 2019.
Judgment will be released worldwide for the PS4, on the 25th June 2019.