Judgment Remastered Review: CSI Kamurocho

Judgment remastered is a fine return for 2019’s Yakuza spin-off. Though all of its changes are purely technical, it's the best version of this detective thriller.

Yakuza’s seen several spin-offs across the years, presenting Sega’s famous beat ‘em up franchise as two feudal-era adventures, zombie shooters, and a Fist of the North Star RPG that borrowed the series' gameplay. However, back in 2019, fans were arguably given the finest attempt yet when Judgment released on PS4.

Taking players back to Kamurocho, Judgment is more legal drama than action movie, retaining the series’ core mechanics while focusing more on investigative work. Following in the footsteps of Yakuza: Like A Dragon, a next-gen version of Judgment is now here for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and Google Stadia, and Judgment remastered is the best way to experience this adventure.

Judgment Remastered Review: CSI Kamurocho

Judgment tells the story of Takayuki Yagami, a disgraced attorney that successfully defended a serial murderer three years prior to the events of the game. Realizing his mistake cost lives, Yagami quits practicing law to become a private detective and start his own agency, working with ex-yakuza Masaharu Kaito, formerly of the Matsugane Family.

Kamurocho is gripped by fear as a brutal serial killer, who’s murdering yakuza and gouging their eyes out for unknown causes, stalks the streets. When a family captain is arrested for the crimes, the Matsugane patriarch asks our former lawyer to defend him.

Drawn into this new conspiracy as an investigator, it's up to players to discover who’s actually responsible for these grizzly murders, leading to a quite exhilarating story, something we praised it for in our initial review for the PS4 version. Despite Judgment's seemingly darker tone, even when compared to other Yakuza titles, the game balances those horrific acts well with Yakuza’s signature sense of humor.

When players aren’t tracking down the killer, Yagami can also accept odd jobs as side missions, which range from photographing a cheating husband to taking down the perverted “Twisted Trio." 

Notably, Judgment also leans more heavily into the series' life simulation aspects. While Yakuza features host clubs, Yagami can date one of four potential girlfriends, though Kaito is sadly not an option. If that’s not your speed, there are plenty of mini-games to keep you busy, including darts, drone racing, mahjong, and pinball. Unfortunately, karaoke doesn’t make the cut, so for anyone hoping to sing “Baka Mitai” as Yagami, I’ve got bad news.

Should you seek a more retro flavor, Club Sega once again includes emulated versions of classic games like Virtua Fighter 5, Puyo Puyo, Space Harrier, and more, making for quite a selection.

Yakuza veterans will discover a familiar gameplay loop across these troubled streets. While New Serena remains off-limits, players can still explore familiar locations like Kamurocho’s Millenium Tower and Champion District, frequently stockpile HP recovery items at the nearest convenience stores, and get repeatedly challenged by street thugs between destinations.

Yagami has two fighting styles: Crane and Tiger. Represented by a blue and red aura respectively, Crane is an acrobatic designed for tackling multiple enemies at once; Tiger prioritizes powerful strikes and is best saved for one-on-one situations.

During battles, you build up your EX meter and unleash some ridiculously over-the-top moves. These can be activated after meeting set criteria, such as when thugs are knocked to the floor or you’ve picked up a nearby item, like a traffic cone or bike.

To build up your strength, Judgment implements an unlockable skill system, which is split into three categories. “Ability” covers general stat boosts, like health, attack, and EX meter. “Battle” mainly provides additional EX attacks, while “Special” is best described as the miscellaneous section, boosting your detective skills and more.

Judgment’s next-gen improvements are all technical; core gameplay hasn’t changed in this remaster. Offering a 4K resolution upgrade, 60fps performance, and much faster loading times, Remastered is easily the best way to play, and combat has never felt so smooth.

Sadly, previous PS4 owners don’t have a free upgrade path from the previous version to this version, which makes it hard to recommend double-dipping when backwards compatibility exists, and as Like A Dragon, there’s no DualSense support here, either.

The only “extra” content available is two previously-released DLC packs that are now bundled in. Everything else remains intact.

Judgment Remastered — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Still a wonderful detective story
  • Improved performance feels incredibly smooth
  • Sharp visuals
  • One of Kamurocho’s strongest adventures

Cons

  • Nothing new for previous players
  • Existing PS4 owners can’t upgrade for free
  • Crafting still feels unnecessary

Judgment isn’t your standard Yakuza game. It's brand-new story in a familiar world and a crime drama that comes together incredibly well, offering a fresh take on Kamurocho's tiring setting. Proving you don’t need Kazuma Kiryu to make a game like this compelling, Yagami and Kaito are superb additions to this universe, and I’d love to see them return in a sequel.

While it would’ve been easy falling back on existing characters – and there’s no escaping the Tojo Clan in Kamurocho – Judgment steers clear of familiar faces entirely. Differentiating itself enough from its parent franchise, that might disappoint those hoping for a Kiryu or Majima cameo, but it allows this new cast a chance to shine through.

As a direct remaster, previous frustrations remain, such as the lengthy target tailing sequences and unnecessary drone crafting mechanics. But when you’ve got such an engaging story packed with content and a keen sense of style, Remastered is undeniably the best way to play Judgment.

[Note: SEGA provided the PS5 copy of Judgment used for this review.]

Our Rating
9
Judgment remastered is a fine return for 2019’s Yakuza spin-off. Though all of its changes are purely technical, it's the best version of this detective thriller.
Reviewed On: PlayStation 5
Published Apr. 29th 2021

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