Judgment (PS5) Review

There are a lot of things that make this console generation different from what players have come to expect. Instead of massive sweeping changes, most of what we’ve seen is a strong focus on performance. Better frame rates, giving worlds life, and trying to bring this experience together. Sega made a bold choice of charging for their rerelease of Judgment, though the difference in performance is immediately obvious. Given the touch-up, should players consider Judgment or does it push the limits of what is acceptable for a rerelease?

Given Judgment is a spin-off of the wildly successful Yakuza series, the approach is very similar, except this time it’s from the perspective of a private detective, Takayuki Yagami. The story starts with Yagami as a lawyer who managed to prove the innocence of Kyohei Hamura, a feat that is notoriously difficult in Japan, eventually leading to Yagami becoming an investigator and wanting to figure out who actually committed the crime. Naturally, this leads to a long series of events, including some familiar families and deep characters, ultimately leading to a stunning conclusion.

Fans of the traditional Yakuza fighting style will be at home with Judgment. Yagami is a series of attacks for groups and another set for individual encounters. Those looking for a bit more flash can diversify attacks by picking up objects to aid in combat, grab enemies or even jump off the wall. On lower difficulties, it’s a fairly straightforward brawler, with blocking and dodging becoming increasingly important against strong foes or higher difficulties. 

Where Judgment starts to come into its own are the detective elements. Investigation mode lets players feel like an actual detective. NPCs will give clues and details, eventually leading to the suspect that will deal with this confrontation. Tailing mode is another new element that is reminiscent of a cheesy detective scene. Yagami will need to slowly follow a suspect, using crowds, objects, and more to hide him. These can be fairly bland to outright awful, though they’re extremely forgiving. The final difference is chase, where you, well, chase a suspect avoiding people and obstacles. These are a bit fun, though are basically a long quick-time event. 

While doing all of this, players can also explore the town, interact with a wide variety of people, places, and stores, along with complete side missions. There is a good bit to see, assuming you’re willing to invest, with some of the side tasks being a blast. Not to mention the typical mini-games and other things associated with the Yakuza franchise are present. 

Those who read our original review might remember our biggest negative in regards to Judgment was performance. Given that is what the PlayStation 5 version focuses on, we’re delighted to say it’s a shockingly big improvement. 

It isn’t just that character models have improved, even the world itself looks so much richer. Judgment easily went from being a charming, but rough, PlayStation 4 title to offering a much nicer experience. Combat, progression and chases especially benefit from the improved frame rate and it honestly makes for a nicer experience. In fact, it’s so vast it almost feels like a different experience. 

Judgment (PS5) Verdict

Overall, there really isn’t much to say about the improved version of Judgment. It has some of the same shortcomings, such as a rather slow story, with performance being substantially better. I would say anyone holding off for those reasons should strongly consider the upgraded version, with current owners gaining very little. Yes, the experience is more refined, the world looks so much more real and models were improved substantially, it just isn’t different enough to warrant double-dipping. 

[Editor’s Note: Judgment was reviewed on PlayStation 5 and a copy was provided to us for review.]