The Judgment series was originally a spin-off from the Yakuza series but never had the same mass appeal at that time as standalone titles. So, I wanted to see if they were value for money when sold as a double package, which has recently been re-released as such.
I’m going to take a look at each individual game and then give an overall scoring based on whether I think the games still hold up today, as well as the value for money. Firstly, we’ll be taking a look at Judgment, which is the first game in this pack. Judgment was originally a spin-off from the Yakuza series. The main character, Takayuki Yagami, is a private investigator who works in Tokyo’s red-light district. Different from Yakuza, the gameplay involving being a detective is, for the most part, quite superficial and at times repetitive in nature. However, the free-flowing combat, side-quests, mini-games, as well as the good serial killer plot, all combine to make for a better game.
The plot in Judgment is standalone and does not require you to have played the Yakuza games. Thankfully, the game is fully English voice dubbed, unlike the Yakuza games, and is excellent.
Using a number of detective-oriented tools and skills at his disposal, Takayuki must solve his mission based around a serial killer stalking underworld figures, as well as side missions. You get to pilot a camera drone, peering through windows of buildings, searching suspects or using a smartphone, taking photos of unsavoury goings on in a hotel, etc. I don’t want to spoil too much, but some of the side missions are really good.
Not all of the missions are as good though, with quick-time events being some of the more mundane tasks within these missions. In particular are the ones where you run through the streets using the thumb-sticks to sidestep crowds whilst also tapping the triangle button in order to jump over obstacles. These sections are tedious and break the flow of the game.
When it comes to combat, you will love how fluid the acrobatic abilities of Takayuki are. Round-house kicks and somersaulting off the scenery brings a great new direction to the game, something the Yakuza games missed out on. Add the finisher moves and combos, which you eventually gain throughout the game, and you have a really good and exciting combat system.
Like Yakuza, there are a plethora of side games to get into, and I often found myself getting distracted from the main game, spending too much of my time playing the retro Sega games at the arcade…I love retro stuff. Other side games include drone racing, board games and even crowdfunding…I know, it sounds crazy.
Graphically, the game is good; it’s not outstanding though, especially when compared to the more recent Yakuza games, but this is further heightened by the fantastic voice acting. Although the game doesn’t have a great level of depth to it, especially when doing the detective tasks, it more than makes up for it with spectacular street fighting, fantastic side quests and the serial killer-focused story.
Next up is the sequel Lost Judgment. Yet another murder case to investigate, though this time it is at the Yokohama High School. This one isn’t quite as good as the first Judgment, especially with the early slow start. However, yet again, you will be entertained more by the amount and variation of side quests on offer.
I kept waiting for the plot twists around the finding of a decomposing body in an abandoned warehouse, where the prime suspect’s alibi is that he was caught committing another crime at the same time…I know, it sounds confusing. However, the plot twist that I had hoped for didn’t arrive, and other than the boss fights at the end of each closing chapter, I never really got that excited about what might happen next.
Similar to the previous game, there are plenty of quick-time sections that involve you having to jump over obstacles while chasing a suspect. However, this was far too clunky and really spoilt the pace of the game. It reminded me of the first Assassin’s Creed game where I found myself shouting at the on-screen character in dismay when he did something I didn’t want him to do.
The majority of the enjoyment with the second game once again lies in the additional side-quests. Once again the retro arcade games return, and playing Virtua Fighter 5 tournament whilst investigating a cheat was a great side story, and there are many other investigations that you can become involved in that are more interesting and enjoyable than the main story.
Similar to the original, there are various fighting styles on offer, and they work brilliantly. The addition of the new Snake Style of fighting is just enough to make the game feel different from the original. However, there is still something missing compared to the more recent Yakuza games.
Graphically, the game is once again very good, the textures and animations are great, as is the outstanding voice acting. But if it wasn’t for all of the great side-quests, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was just more of the same when compared to the first game.
Overall, as a package containing both titles, it’s hard not to recommend Judgment and Lost Judgment as the many hours of gameplay on offer is great and you could easily spend over 30-50 hours of just playing the side-quests and mini-games. The Yakuza games may be more interesting when it comes to the storyline, but the variations in side-quests make the Judgment pack a must buy for any PC gamer.
Developers: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, Sega
Publishers: Sega, SEGA of America
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows
Release Date: 14th September 2022