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Judgment is Perfect for Yakuza Fans, But Casual Players Should Not Miss It

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The Yakuza series has been popular since its debut on the PlayStation 2 over 13 years ago. Putting players in the shoes of a yakuza member, the game features intense fight sequences and action-oriented gameplay in addition to its meaningful story. A success in Japan (and later in the West), the game spawned a franchise featuring several direct sequels and spin-off titles. The latest such spin-off is the PlayStation 4 game Judgment.

Originally known in Japan as Judge EyesJudgment does not feature Yakuza protagonist Kazuma Kiryu—instead, players assume control of Takayuki Yagami, a yakuza-turned-lawyer-turned-private detective who is assigned to investigate a murder case involving one of his former associates. Players need not have any knowledge of the Yakuza games, as Judgment follows a self-contained narrative that will maintain the interest of all players. As Yagami discovers new clues and evidence for the case, players will begin to piece together the puzzle—but the narrative throws plenty of surprises to keep players on their toes.

Piecing together such a puzzle requires investigative gameplay, and Judgment has plenty of it. When searching for clues, the player will scan an area or image for anything relevant and list all evidence that they discover. Investigation also demands witnesses; the game features conversation options when talking to characters within the world so players can decide how to lead each conversation. Selecting the most intuitive questions in consecutive order will reward the player.

Judgment game screenshot 2

Of course, the game would not be a Yakuza spin-off without combat. Yagami is a talented fighter and can chain together hits on enemies in an immensely satisfying manner. Though button-mashing will likely lead to success in some early combat encounters, nothing is more satisfying than piecing together complex moves for maximum damage, and later fights in the game will require such complexity. The player will encounter random enemies when exploring the open world, temporarily halting any exploration to focus on the fight. These encounters can appear frustrating due to their frequency and irrelevance to the active narrative, but they are quick and simple enough to be satisfying, boosting the player’s experience in the process.

The open world of Kamurocho will be familiar to Yakuza fans, though casual players may be frustrated by its size and limits. Boundaries are not clearly marked, instead stopping the player dead in their tracks in the middle of the road. Thankfully, the world has enough content to keep the player entertained; several buildings can be entered, with many leading to hidden locations such as rooftops, and the destructible sets will keep anyone distracted for a while. The artistic and graphical design is not quite on par with those of the character designs, but credit must be given in this department nonetheless.

Judgment game screenshot

Both the Japanese and English voice acting is outstanding, and the game’s music and sound design are impeccably implemented. The cutscenes are typically well-constructed and some allow the player to skip dialogue one line at a time; some scenes in particular stand out due to their incredible camera work and framing, though some earlier scenes suffer due to a lack of quality in the same area. The transition between cutscenes is often distracting, and some tight areas lead to awkward gameplay moments, but neither detract from the overall experience.

Judgment is shaping up to be a very enjoyable game. Enjoyable gameplay, an intriguing narrative, and talented voice work is enough to keep the player entertained, and the early chapters spark enough intrigue for the player to wish to see Yagami’s story through to its conclusion. Yakuza fans should not miss out on Judgment.

For non-Yakuza fans: the game has a cat cafe. Need I say more?


Stay tuned for OnlySP’s final verdict on Judgment later this month. In the meantime, be sure to follow OnlySP on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube, and join the discussion in the community Discord server.

Rhain discovered a long time ago that mixing one of his passions (video games) with the other (writing) might be a good idea, and now he’s been stuck in the industry for over six years with no means of escaping. His favourite games are those with deep and captivating narratives: while it would take far too long to list them all, some include L.A. Noire, Red Dead Redemption (and its sequel), Wolfenstein: The New Order, The Last of Us, and the Uncharted series.

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E3 2019

Biomutant is Vibrant, Unique, and a Hell of a Lot of Fun

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biomutant

THQ Nordic had a bevy of games available to play on the show floor at this year’s E3. While some attendees eagerly lined up to play Darksiders Genesis (as our own Michael Cripe did), others sought to finally get their hands on Experiment 101’s highly unique Biomutant for a hands-on, 30-minute demo. Thankfully, Biomutant’s E3 demo is more than enough proof that the will end up being something truly special.

After selecting their preferred language, players were given the option to recode their mutant’s DNA, serving as Biomutant’s version of a character customizer. The customization options were satisfying. A circle graph appears on the screen with five key skills the player must find their preferred balance between: strength, agility, intellect, charisma, and vitality. A sixth skill, luck, was also present, but it was not one that the player could influence from the circle graph. This graph not only influences the player’s mutant’s skills but it also directly changes the mutant’s appearance.

Other customization options included determining the mutant’s fur length and primary and secondary colors. Once these options were set, the demo thrusts the player into a mission that begins with riding a hot air balloon  while the narrator speaks of the excitement of an adventure. Enemies begin firing to bring down the hot air balloon and the player is dropped into the action.

Biomutant

The world of Biomutant immediately pops, as the colors were sharp and invoked thoughts of Ratchet &Clank with a slightly more comic-book style. The visuals reflected the conditions of the area, too, with vibrant reds representing intense heat being a memorable example. The first thing that stood out about this sequence was how great the combat felt. Similarly to Insomniac’s Spider-Man and Rocksteady’s Arkham series, sliding through an enemy’s legs while kicking, punching, and shooting felt tight and familiar. In some instances, the game slowed down when a knockout blow was dealt, which was a nice cinematic touch.

Progressing forward saw the player in an area with additional enemies with a larger, more intimidating foe acting as the main objective. This section introduced the Super Wushu attack, which varies depending on the equipped weapon. The most rewarding of these attacks was with the Klonk Fist which was obtained later in the demo. The Klonk Fist offered huge gauntlets that could pummel multiple enemies by mashing the action button.

The key to unlocking the Super Wushu attack involves stringing together combos which felt fairly easy to do. I do not recall ever losing my combo to an enemy attack, as I obtained the special attack fairly often. The combat allowed for those who wished to mash the melee or firing button but also rewards the players who are more tactical in their combos while mixing in shooting with melee attacks.

Biomutant

With the tutorial for the demo out the way, the game continues by having the player go to a different part of the planet. This new area showcased the vibrant greens and life that contrasted the overheated reds from the previous area. After some platforming, the demo descends the player down into the world where Gizmo the Greasemonkey resides.

Biomutant NPC dialogue is spoken by the narrator from the beginning of the demo while the player’s character makes vague sounds during the conversation. This exchange felt a bit underwhelming for the action-RPG as options did not hold any consequences for how the next section plays out and can be skipped without missing out on much of the story or mission objective.

After descending down and exiting an elevator shaft, the player enters a dark, oil-spilt area. The color palette here reflected the same pop to its visuals as the other sections. A mech suit, which was required to clean up the oil, controlled fine, though combat definitely felt better out of the mech suit than in it.

A final enemy awaited which served as the boss fight for the mission. This fight contained three phases with the enemy adding a new attack method from in the second. The third phase, however, took place inside the creature. After taking him down from the inside, the planet’s Tree of Life becomes more alive as indicating a reversal of destitute for the planet.

The demo confirmed the anticipation OnlySP had for Biomutant. The combat felt great and the visuals really popped. THQ Nordic and Experiment 101 may something special on their hands if the rest of the game plays as the demo did.

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