It’s been described as Yakuza meets Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, but Judgment, the latest game from Sega’s Ryu ga Gotoku Studio, is more than just a mashup.
Judgment does use some of Yakuza 6’s assets and, roaming around Kamurocho, you’ll spend a lot of time introducing your fists (plus conveniently parked bicycles) to your opponents’ faces. And in some respects it does resembles Ace Attorney, if Phoenix Wright dressed like a missing member of Guitar Wolf. There are larger-than-life characters to interrogate, crimes to solve, and a simmering sexual tension between your character and the prosecuting attorney.
But, stepping into former lawyer Tak Yagami’s shoes, Judgment had me hooked quicker than any of the Ace Attorney or Yakuza games. The game’s meaty opening chapter lacks any real courtroom battles, but doing the legwork and tailing suspects through the streets proves to be more rewarding than just punching people or following improbable logic threads.
No doubt Judgment will see Tak take up the role of a lawyer at some point in the game but his primary role is, indeed, that of a detective. And it works; Tak is a badass and is more than capable of getting his hands dirty – but there’s just as much following leads as there is fighting. Ducking behind a bin or car to avoid the gaze of my quarry never once failed to amuse me.
Judgment is chunked into chapters, which are a little more self-enclosed than Yakuza’s, although unlike most of Ace Attorney’s cases, you’re left with enough questions to keep you pushing for the truth. While chapter 1 has you learning the ropes, subsequent chapters give you optional side cases to take on. As entertaining and frequently ridiculous as Yakuza 6’s side quests were, Judgment’s activities are more purposeful and, as a result, much more satisfying.
Assuming, that is, you can pull yourself away from the Judgment’s mini-games. Puyo Puyo and Virtua Fighter 5 put in an appearance but I was particularly overjoyed to stumble onto a House of the Dead-style game in one of the city’s arcades. It’s a blessing that Judgment waits around for you, otherwise the clients my lawyer-turned-detective was hired to help would have met their end while I was still messing about with claw machines.
Judgment promises to deliver just the right dose of humour and intrigue and if you’ve ever wanted to seek the truth while smacking someone with a road sign, it could be right up your garishly-lit Tokyo street. You can pass, er, judgment yourself when the game is released on June 25th. We’ll have a full review of the game here next Thursday.