Judgment - Review

Author: Alessandra "Aelinar" Borgonovo
Date: 2021-01-26 19:44:15
After the success of the Yakuza series and the well-deserved conclusion of the story of Kazuma Kiryu, the studio Ryu Ga Gotoku takes us along the infamous streets of Kamurocho this time not as a yakuza (although the difference is very subtle) but in those of detective Takayuki Yagami. Compared to the series that precedes it and of which it collects the legacy in almost all respects starting from the setting itself, Judgment is a game that leaves less room for the unsettling bizarre that often characterized the adventures of Kiryu to focus on a plot with tones dark and macabre at times, where politics and corruption are intertwined together with the sense of justice to give life to a story where nothing is ever as it appears. This does not mean that the game lacks situations bordering on the absurd, after all we have been well used in previous years, but they will be relegated mostly to the life of Kamurocho and the side missions in which "Tak" will find himself involved - frequently his. despite - leaving unchanged an intriguing and very well scripted main narrative sector, also strong in very delicate themes such as that of disease and medicine.

It must be said that the expectations behind this title were particularly high-level: either because the Kiryu saga had transformed Kamurocho into a private dimension where the memory of the Dragon of Dojima should not have been scratched, or because of the promise of an unpublished story with a cast of characters equally new despite the basic structure from the point of view of the gameplay would have been the same, Judgment plays on difficult ground but proves to know how to get along well by offering fans an experience in line with what has already been seen but at the same time refreshing.

Let's start from the beginning, that is, from the plot. The events revolve around Takayuki Yagami (to whom the famous actor and former member of the boy band SMAP Kimura Takuya lends his face), a lawyer with an increasingly growing career thanks to the acquittal obtained for his client in a country where 99 9% of cases end with a guilty verdict. Yagami is at his peak, sought after by all, when his justice turns against him, bringing him to disgrace in no time at all: disbarred, forced to rebuild his life, the former prince of the forum is now only the penniless neighborhood detective who doesn't mind taking a case regardless of who the client is - as long as it doesn't violate his sense of justice. Meanwhile, Kamurocho is increasingly abuzz with an unknown serial killer who is targeting yakuza exponents by poking out their eyes after killing them. The war between the clans now seems inevitable and as the city streets slowly give way to chaos, Yagami will have to rely on every resource to bring to the surface a mystery that goes far beyond the simple chain of murders: something against which not even justice seems to have. power, especially if colluded.

From this point of view, the characterization work carried out on Yagami is interesting: if Kazuma Kiryu was "a yakuza with a good heart" but still a criminal and therefore accustomed to violence as a method of coercion, one would not expect the same from a character who in his past was a defender of justice. The thin red line on which Yagami constantly walks instead places us in front of a man victim of guilt feelings, destroyed by an error of his assessment and the consequences that derive from it, a man who with the progress of the plot we will discover does not he will have no qualms about using blackmail and violence to get the answers he wants. This nuanced personality, neither white nor black, flows into a sense of empathy that with Kiryu had never been fully achieved, perhaps precisely because of his basic criminal nature. Here, on the other hand, we are faced with a person like any of us could be, betrayed by a justice in which he believed and to which he now presents the bill: the persistent question that the game asks us while the narration proceeds relentlessly is always the same, up to where would we go to get what is right? And what is the limit that divides it from revenge?

In Judgment we therefore find the same familiar emphasis on mystery, on the need for investigation and suspense that characterized Yakuza, but in this case even more amplified. Also, while the game doesn't feature a criminal protagonist, Yagami's ties to the yakuza will often lead him into situations where his hands have to move faster than his brain. So what are the main differences compared to the parent series capable of giving the experience a fresh yet familiar touch?

In the first place, although disconnected from the gameplay, there is the localization: for the first time in fact the game is entirely translated into Italian with the possibility of setting the dubbing in English. Personally my advice is to keep the original language for the dialogues but regardless of preference, it is important to underline the accessibility that SEGA finally grants even to those who are less familiar with English. Regarding the structure itself, the combat follows Yakuza: Yagami can rely on two different styles (the Crane to face groups of opponents and the Tiger for brutal 1 vs 1 clashes), take advantage of the EX moves to score hits specials of unprecedented power and style, collect nearby objects to exploit them to his advantage. In spite of the similarity with the previous titles of the studio, Yagami is in all respects a new character and is perceived as such: the commands are familiar enough to allow veterans to master them in a short time but the execution of the same leads to combos never seen before offering that touch of novelty.