Misplaced Judgment is a greater sequel with a messy story
The Yakuza sequence is beloved for its uncanny skill to bounce between absurd humor, deep pathos, and brutal violence and making it appear to be essentially the most pure factor on the earth. Misplaced Judgment, the sequel to 2019’s detective-focused spinoff Judgment, marks a uncommon misstep in that regard. In some ways it’s a lot improved on its predecessor and spins a extra formidable story — however it may possibly’t fairly ship on its themes.
Misplaced Judgment picks up after the primary sport with Takayuki Yagami — performed in droll, deadpan vogue by Japanese megastar Takuya Kimura — returning to his work as a personal detective. Yagami is employed to analyze an incident of bullying at a highschool in Yokohama, however quickly sufficient the case turns into entwined with a groping conviction in Tokyo and a homicide close by.
The plot is greater than a little bit far-fetched, as is the case with most Japanese crime procedurals, and the inevitable shoehorning in of gang warfare feels just like the writers have been overly beholden to the Yakuza sequence. But it surely’s informed at a briskly entertaining tempo and feels extra centered than the earlier sport’s spiraling Large Pharma conspiracy. I typically appreciated the trouble to inform a extra intimate, smaller-scale story, although it doesn’t in the end repay.
The detective parts of the sport are a lot improved. You’ll nonetheless must tail enemies by the streets and undergo some pointless on-rails stealth sections, however they principally function palate cleansers relatively than factors of frustration. With its streamlined talking-heads cutscenes and emphasis on presenting significant proof, Misplaced Judgment generally feels extra like Ace Lawyer than its predecessor, which was primarily Yakuza with an occasional gumshoe mini-game.
Talking of Yakuza, Misplaced Judgment will likely be price enjoying for anybody turned off by the sequence’ shift to turn-based RPG-style fight with Like a Dragon. The brawling is as easy and satisfying because it’s ever been, with three distinct fight types that each one have clear makes use of. It helps that Misplaced Judgment is by far the best-looking Yakuza-adjacent sport so far, with a dramatic lighting system, sensible characters, and stable 60fps efficiency (at the least on the PS5 I used for testing).
Kamurocho has by no means regarded so good, and this time Yagami will get to play in Yokohama, too, with the a lot bigger Ijincho district coming back from Like a Dragon. In contrast to most up-to-date Yakuza video games, the unique Judgment solely passed off in Kamurocho and felt fairly cramped consequently; the sequel offers you way more to discover. As ever, Sega’s Yakuza workforce does a fantastic job at reusing places and packing them full of latest element. You’re now capable of skateboard on streets to get round quicker, for instance, and in Yokohama you may take a cute shiba inu for walks and uncover aspect quests in return.
The breezy vibe is offset by the primary storyline, which offers with a number of the darkest material but seen within the sequence. The plot facilities round highschool bullying and suicide, which is definitely a topical and contentious situation in Japan; simply final week a case involving a sixth-grade woman who died by suicide made information as the varsity denied that bullying was the trigger. However Misplaced Judgment takes a flippant method to the issue, with Yagami resorting to preposterous strategies like putting distant audio system beneath classroom tables to vocally arise for bullied youngsters when their classmates received’t. Different characters, in the meantime, get killed off or make jarring heel turns in limitless twists that don’t really feel earned by the plot, and the sport typically makes ham-fisted makes an attempt to get you to sympathize with some fairly clearly horrible individuals. It’s good that Sega tried to focus on the central situation, and I don’t assume anybody expects a online game to resolve it altogether, however it doesn’t really feel like match for Misplaced Judgment’s in any other case schlocky tone.
You possibly can take a look at Misplaced Judgment in two methods: an typically clumsy try at critical storytelling, or a technically achieved sequel that a lot improves on its predecessor. It’s each, actually. The plot doesn’t totally land, and I discovered there to be extra awkward moments than in Judgment or different Yakuza video games. However I can also’t ignore the massive leaps this sport makes in different areas, and it nonetheless retains up the irreverent appeal of the sequence for a lot of its operating time. Total, I feel it is a significantly better sport than Judgment and I want to see the place it goes subsequent.
The way forward for the Judgment sequence is unclear, nevertheless. Numerous rumors counsel that Yakuza creator and government director Toshihiro Nagoshi could also be leaving Sega, whereas Kimura’s notoriously protecting expertise company Johnny’s is reportedly refusing to permit future video games along with his likeness as a result of a dispute over a PC model. I’m hoping none of this stops Sega from engaged on the subsequent installment, although — whereas Misplaced Judgment can be an sadly messy ending, I might see it because the formidable center a part of a trilogy that finds its toes ultimately.
Misplaced Judgment is out now on the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Collection S / X.