Misplaced Judgment is a greater sequel with a messy story
The Yakuza sequence is beloved for its uncanny potential to bounce between absurd humor, deep pathos, and brutal violence and making it seem to be probably 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 bold story — however it may well’t fairly ship on its themes.
Misplaced Judgment picks up after the primary sport with Takayuki Yagami — performed in droll, deadpan trend by Japanese megastar Takuya Kimura — returning to his work as a non-public 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 slightly 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. However it’s instructed at a briskly entertaining tempo and feels extra targeted than the earlier sport’s spiraling Huge Pharma conspiracy. I typically appreciated the hassle to inform a extra intimate, smaller-scale story, despite the fact that it doesn’t finally repay.
The detective components of the sport are a lot improved. You’ll nonetheless should tail enemies by the streets and undergo some pointless on-rails stealth sections, however they largely function palate cleansers reasonably than factors of frustration. With its streamlined talking-heads cutscenes and emphasis on presenting significant proof, Misplaced Judgment generally feels extra like Ace Legal professional than its predecessor, which was basically Yakuza with an occasional gumshoe mini-game.
Talking of Yakuza, Misplaced Judgment will probably 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 kinds that every one have clear makes use of. It helps that Misplaced Judgment is by far the best-looking Yakuza-adjacent sport up to now, with a dramatic lighting system, real looking characters, and strong 60fps efficiency (at the very least on the PS5 I used for testing).
Kamurocho has by no means seemed so good, and this time Yagami will get to play in Yokohama, too, with the a lot bigger Ijincho district getting back from Like a Dragon. Not like most up-to-date Yakuza video games, the unique Judgment solely passed off in Kamurocho and felt fairly cramped consequently; the sequel provides you much more to discover. As ever, Sega’s Yakuza staff does an amazing job at reusing places and packing them full of recent element. You’re now capable of skateboard on streets to get round quicker, for instance, and in Yokohama you’ll be able to take a cute shiba inu for walks and uncover facet 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 actually a topical and contentious concern in Japan; simply final week a case involving a sixth-grade lady who died by suicide made information as the college denied that bullying was the trigger. However Misplaced Judgment takes a flippant method to the issue, with Yagami resorting to preposterous strategies like inserting distant audio system underneath classroom tables to vocally rise up for bullied children when their classmates received’t. Different characters, in the meantime, get killed off or make jarring heel turns in countless 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 folks. It’s good that Sega tried to focus on the central concern, and I don’t assume anybody expects a online game to resolve it altogether, but it surely doesn’t really feel like a very good match for Misplaced Judgment’s in any other case schlocky tone.
You possibly can have a look at Misplaced Judgment in two methods: an typically clumsy try at severe storytelling, or a technically achieved sequel that a lot improves on its predecessor. It’s each, actually. The plot doesn’t absolutely 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 large leaps this sport makes in different areas, and it nonetheless retains up the irreverent appeal of the sequence for a lot of its working time. Total, I feel this can be a significantly better sport than Judgment and I wish to see the place it goes subsequent.
The way forward for the Judgment sequence is unclear, nonetheless. Numerous rumors recommend 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 consequence 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 could be an sadly messy ending, I may see it because the bold center a part of a trilogy that finds its ft in the long run.
Misplaced Judgment is out now on the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Collection S / X.