How Judgment fits into the sprawling world of Yakuza

Discover Japan underworld’s from a fresh perspective in Sega’s new action thriller.

 
 

What is Judgment?

Knockout crime drama Judgment sends you on a thrilling adventure through Tokyo’s underworld, playing a detective forced to use his wits and fists to combat injustice. It’s an all-new, standalone adventure packed with a dramatic story, compelling cast and a unique blend of investigative mechanics and dazzling combat sequences.

Judgment is the perfect entrypoint for anyone interested in experiencing a compelling blend of gameplay genres, vivid recreations of Tokyo’s iconic districts, dramatic storylines and fantastic mini-games.

 

How does it fit into the Yakuza franchise?

Judgment is a return to the seedy underbelly of Tokyo (and beyond) from a studio that has a rich history in crime sagas. Sega’s spent the past decade taking PlayStation players on action-packed trips through the Kamurocho district and beyond with its critically-acclaimed Yakuza series.

The Yakuza series is its own unique beast. This ambitious franchise spans the decades as it charts the life of Kiryu Kazuma and his inexorable ties to Japan’s criminal underworld. An epic tale of honour, redemption and betrayals featuring a compelling cast, it’s told across seven games and three generations of console, with a scale that rivals cinema and television for ambition and a scope unique to gaming.   

 

 
 

Play lawman or criminal

Two different experiences, two different perspectives of the same world. It may be daunting to know where to start: would you rather play a lawman driven to save the innocent, or a criminal fighting for a better life?

Our handy guide is here to help. You’ll soon be exploring the streets of Japan as if it’s familiar turf, regardless of what side of the law you walk on.

Hard-hitting detective

Yagami Takayuki

Judgment’s hero has a troubled past and a seemingly impossible task ahead. He’s a former lawyer whose career ended when a murder suspect he aquitted was subsequently arrested for the same crime. Now he’s turned detective and is using his investigative skills to solve cases in Tokyo. But his latest will stretch him to his limits: finding a serial killer.

Honour-bound criminal

Kiryu Kazuma

The main protagonist of the Yakuza series continually attempts to forge a better life for himself and those around him while struggling with his lifelong commitments to the criminal underworld. Straddling that divide is never easy and the personal sacrifices made along the way are many.

 

 
 

Two stories. Multiple possibilities

Both Judgment and Yakuza have multiple ways to play. Here’s what’s to expect.

 

Both Judgment and Yakuza are set in vivid, if fictionalised, recreations of some of Japan’s most iconic cityscapes. The extraordinary detail in each game faithfully captures the layout and atmosphere of their real-world counterparts at different times in history.

They even come complete with experiences that’d be a must for any visitor. Whether you take a break from pursuing a lead in Judgment to duck into an arcade, or escape the bustling crowds and neon lights for the quietness of a cat cafe in Yakuza 6, you can enjoy Japan’s many unique attractions from the comfort of your sofa.  

 

Unique to Judgment is its investigative mechanics, tapping into Yagami’s previous skills as a lawyer. As you explore Tokyo you’ll surreptitiously track leads, photograph suspects to collect evidence, cross-examine witnesses for clues and more. These gameplay moments offer a refreshing palate cleanser to the more action-heavy sequences.

At times fists will be the only answer, forcing you to prove your case with a flurry of combos in Judgment or hammer home your point with brute strength in Yakuza. These brawler sections

let you switch styles to tackle single foes or huge groups, while both Kiryu and Yagami can unleash special abilities unique to each character to give them the edge in battle.

 

Both Yakuza and Judgment are packed full of mini-games to break up the intense drama with some fun distractions. You’ll find historically-faithful, fully-playable recreations of Sega arcade games (such as Virtua Fighter and Space Harrier) as well as pinball tables, karaoke, drone races and even tower defence-style challenges across the titles.  

 

 
 

The Yakuza connection

Want to experience Kiryu Kazuma’s whole journey? Here’s what you need to know.

Kiryu’s story spans seven games and multiple decades

There’s no arguing the ambitiousness of Sega’s Yakuza series. While it has expanded to include additional playable characters, the crime saga has charted the major beats of Kiryu Kazuma’s life from the 1980s through to the present day. The series began on PS2 with 2006’s Yakuza and concluded his story on PS4 with 2018's Yakuza 6: The Song of Life.

Combined the Yakuza series present one of gaming’s richest character tapestries, but crucially, as every adventure is unique, they all can also be enjoyed as standalone adventures. 

How to catch up on Kiryu's story

Yakuza began on PS2, continued on PS3 and concluded on PS4. But over the past few years Sega has remade and remastered the earlier entries so they can go toe to toe with the latter chapters. PS4 remakes of the original two entries modernised Kiryu’s first adventures, while 2017’s prequel Yakuza 0 develved further back into Kazuma’s origins.

Thanks to these PS4 remakes and PS Now, you can enjoy all but two of Kiryu’s adventures on your PlayStation 4. The two exceptions, Yakuza 3 and Yakuza: Dead Souls, are available on PS3.   

 
 

Which Yakuza game do I play first?

Each game offers a unique chapter in Kazuma’s life. Which do you play first? Read on for the synopsis on each title; see which story captures your imagination and jump in there.

 

Released 2017, set: 1988

Yakuza 0

The earliest chapter in Yakuza’s story is one of the most recently released. This prequel interweaves two stories and two playable characters: Kiryu Kazuma is wrongly accused of murder and tries to clear his name while being hunted, while series’ regular Goro Majima refuses to assassinate a young girl and becomes marked for death himself.  

Released 2017, set: 2006

Yakuza Kiwami

A remake if the PS2 original, Kiwami sees Kiryu return to a very different Tokyo after 10 years spent in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. War has erupted between yakuza factions, his best friend has turned crime boss and wants to kill him, and his dulled fighting skills will be tested by clan rival Goro Majima in a series of epic - and increasingly bizarre - battles.

Released 2018, set: 2008

Yakuza Kiwami 2

2008’s sequel gets the remake treatment a decade on. Kiryu finds his escape from yakuza life only temporary. The murder of a prominent member of his former clan pulls him back into the criminal underworld and facing off against a deadly new adversary. It’s a mystery that’ll see him travel the country, splitting his time between Tokyo and Osaka.

Released 2010, set: 2009

Yakuza 3

The middle entry to Kiryu’s saga seemingly shifts events from the streets of Tokyo to Okinawa, as the former yakuza looks to run an orphanage. What starts as a governmental land dispute to demolish the building turns into a quest for revenge when an attempt is made on a close friend’s life.  

Released 2011, set: 2010

Yakuza 4

Set a year after the events of Yakuza 3 in which Kiryu is almost fatally stabbed, this PS3 sequel expands the playable character count for four unique perspectives: play a corrupt cop, a loan shark and a yakuza hitman, as well as Kiryu. Each character has a unique mini-game, making for the most diverse series’ entry in the canon. Well, until Yakuza 5.

Released 2015, set: 2012

Yakuza 5

The last series entry on PS3 expanding the character count further to five. Kiryu, returning characters from Yakuza 4 and new faces make for the biggest franchise entry yet. The gradually interweaving storylines will see you journey to five different cities across Japan s a wider mystery unfolds.

Released 2018, set: 2016

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

The concluding chapter of Kiryu Kazuma focuses on a older, wiser version of the former criminal newly released from prison. He's on a personal quest for vengeance after the death of his adoptive daughter, but ultimately Kiryu will uncover a near-century long secret buried by yakuza clans.

 

Released 2013

Yakuza: Dead Souls

Yakuza turns survival horror in this surprising entry that released on PS3 a year after Yakuza 4. Kiryu Kazuma and Goro Majima headline four playable characters who must repel an undead outbreak on the streets of Tokyo. While not canon, it’s a fun “what if?” scenario that marries crime drama to zombie action.