During Sony’s PlayStation Lineup Tour on September 10th, SEGA’s Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios revealed their new IP, Judge Eyes, or “Project Judge” for the West. The demo was available the same day for Japanese PSN account holders. While the demo was roughly only around 30 minutes long and you’re unable to explore anything outside of your current mission, it gives you just enough to get a good feel at what the full game will be like.
Set in modern day Kamurocho (yes that Kamurocho), you take the role of Takayuki Yagami, who is also played by famous Japanese actor Takuya Kimura. After a previous client who he already had acquitted of murder charges and gets arrested for murdering his girlfriend, Yagami’s reputation is ruined. It is here that he goes from defense attorney to a private detective now following a serial murder case.
If you’re familiar with the Dragon Engine used in Yakuza 6, and the recently released Yakuza Kiwami 2, you’ll notice it’s looking better than ever here. After the opening cutscenes in the demo, your main objective is to go after a man that Yagami and his partner, Kaito, have already been keeping an eye on, and who also happens to be a detective himself, but not before being thrown into battle with a group of thugs, giving you a first taste of the combat.
While the button layout is relatively the same as the Yakuza games, the overall feel of the fighting is quite different. Yagami is much lighter on his feet than Yakuza’s protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, and can do what seems to be a wider variety of moves. Heat actions, like from the Yakuza series, have seemed to make a return, only this time around they are referred to as “ex-actions”, and they are just as satisfying! After finishing off the thugs, you now have to find the suspect you were after.
You have a sketch of what he looks like, and a list of features to distinguish him from the others around. You simply zoom into a targeted person, and it will automatically begin going down the list of features in the description you have, with features of the person you’re looking at, and voila! Once you find the correct guy, you begin tailing him, occasionally having to hide behind walls, signs, or blending in with bystanders nearby to avoid detection. After you, of course, find him involved in illegal gambling activities using a drone controlled by Kaito, and confront him, he attempts to run away.
Here, you begin a chase sequence, which is primarily filled with QTE prompts when some sort of obstacle is in your way, usually an object or a person. While these new mechanics aren’t particularly challenging, they’re definitely enjoyable, and just a small fraction of what separates this game from the Yakuza series and give it it’s own feel. Eventually you manage to catch your perp, but not before having another showdown (Yay! More fighting!). It’s here you learn about the 2 available fighting styles and how to switch between them. Each one giving you a very different combination of stylish punches and kicks to take down anyone in your way. The blue seems to be more suitable for multiple enemies, while the red is better for one-on-one. The gameplay aspect of the demo ends there. There’s a small cutscene between Yagami and a now beaten suspect, with Kaito showing up for a moment to rough him up a bit more, and then cue credits.
Even though it wasn’t a long demo filled with things to do, it was a fantastic first look if you ask me! Of course other than combat, tailing and chasing, there are plenty of other things within the full game you are able to do such as infiltration, lock-picking, photo missions, and much more. There are even different types of disguises you can change into to carry out investigations the best way possible. Judge Eyes also has it’s own plethora of unique mini-games like Pinball, and drone racing. Despite there being a few similarities to RGG Studios’ other beloved series, there are a number of things that make this game able to stand on it’s own. Yakuza fan or not, you don’t want to miss this!
For a more detailed look at the demo, check out my play-through of it in the video below;
Judge Eyes releases for the PlayStation 4 on December 13, 2018 in Japan, and has already been confirmed for a 2019 release in the West. Expect more information during Tokyo Game Show!
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