Judgment – Revisiting the Immersive Yakuza Spinoff

In gaming, there aren’t too many franchise spinoffs that stick the landing and don’t just come across as a shallow cash grab. Judgment is quite the opposite. Originally launched on the PlayStation 4 in December 2018 in Japan, June 2019 worldwide, Judgment was remastered for next-gen consoles in April 2021, getting praised for its embrace of the Dragon Engine. With the remaster, just a couple of years after its original release, being even better than the launch edition, the game starring Takayuki Yagami only enhanced its legacy. In fact, PushSquare gives it a third-place ranking in the entire Yakuza series, only trailing Yakuza 0 and Yakuza: Kiwami 2. Now, with a less well-received sequel out, Lost Judgment – which landed 24 September 2021, Judgment is a steal on the PlayStation Store, so we’re revisiting the little details and great places that make the game so immersive and worthy of your gaming hours.

Playing some darts at Bantam

Situated on East Millennium Tower Street, Bantam is a mainstay in the Yakuza, with the establishment only missing in one game, Yakuza 0 – the trailer for which is here. Judgment introduces the owner, Tobe, and also offers a reference to Yakuza 0’s Bacchus via a pair of boxing gloves at the back. Still, the main attraction of Bantam is the darts mini-game. A pub classic, playing darts in Judgment certainly fills a void present essentially across gaming. There are very few good darts games out there, with many simply defaulting to MSN Games’ 3D Darts. It’s very difficult to relay the skill of darts in a video game. Judgment, and most other Yakuza games, do offer a very fun darts mini-game, with perhaps only the motion-controlled darts of 51 Worldwide Games being better.

Relaxing in the iconic bar chain

Few locations in Judgment offer such an instantly-identifiable Japanese aesthetic as The Gindaco, coming into the Yakuza spinoff as the Gindaco Highball Tavern. There are many bars littered throughout the game, but the upscale nature of the Gindaco makes it stand out as one of the best-hidden areas. Judgment’s venue is classy and loaded with virtual top-shelf drinks, but it doesn’t quite go as all-in as the PS4 cult-classic Yakuza 5. There aren’t a great many games that offer an operational bar, but Judgment upholds the tradition of the series. That said, in other Yakuza games, you get boosts for consuming the food and drinks, but in Judgment, even if you stop in for a ¥660 Mega Highball, you won’t benefit.

Testing the tables

A Yakuza tradition, Judgment also lets you test your luck on casino games. There’s the western-style L’Amant underneath Koi Bride, which only has blackjack and poker, or the expansive east-west Dragon Palace (Ryugujo) in Kamurocho. There are many more games in the Dragon Palace, and in Judgment, you’ll be able to meet Iyama and complete his Extract Shop. Replications of real casino games are becoming less prevalent in gaming, but have been a mainstay in the Ry? ga Gotoku series. Still, when you move away and look there are loads of ways to play real casino games online, from RNG titles to live-streamed, real-time games. Provided that you have an internet connection, you can play live casino tables and game shows at Betway, ranging from roulette to Crazy Time, Dragon Tiger to Craps. Still, in Judgment, the two casinos are well-used within the story and add another element to the immersive world, offering even more mini-games to enjoy while roaming.

Trying some of the publisher’s classics

Judgment builds its world further through mini-games by continuing the trend of having an arcade loaded with the game’s developer’s retro titles. Somewhat unashamedly, Sega has once again pumped playable versions of its games into Judgment, and while it may be a cheap advertising move, it’s certainly very enjoyable. You can still buy Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown, or play it for free as a PlayStation Now member, and yet, the 2010 release is also in Club Sega. The classic fighter series can be cited as one of the major influencers on the best modern fighting games on the PS4, but it isn’t the only Sega classic available to enjoy in Judgment. You’ll also find 80s arcade hits like Space Harrier, OutRun, and Fantasy Zone – depending on if you’re on the remastered edition – Fighting Vipers, Motor Raid, and Virtua Fighter 2 from the 90s, and the more recent Puyo Puyo, as well as the mini-game Kamuro of the Dead.

Judgment is loaded with things to do beyond the main story thread of a downtrodden detective investigating a murder. It’s all of the expertly-crafted venues and mini-games that you can experience that help to make Judgment a superb game, especially in its remastered form on the PlayStation 5.

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