Project Judge takes up the Yakuza mantle on the other side of the law
The Yakuza team reveals its latest project – a tale of a crime-fighting, martial-arts lawyer-turned-detective.
“Project Judge is going that step further, taking the Dragon Engine’s combat up a notch”
Taking place within the streets of Kamurocho, the setting for the Yakuza games, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s latest is very much cut from the same cloth as the beloved series. But whereas the Yakuza series places you on the wrong side of the law (even if leading man Kazuma Kiryu is usually on the side of moral justice), the dev’s new project has you step over that line, and into the shoes of disgraced ex-defence-attorneyturned-private-detective, Takayuki Yagami. Known simply under the working title Project Judge for its Western release, the game’s called Judge Eyes: Will Of The Death God in Japan, and sees Yagami investigating a string of grisly murders. While the last Yakuza game famously had Beat Takeshi in a starring role, Project Judge’s leading man Yagami is played by Japanese superstar Takuya Kimura (J-drama star, member of a popular boy band called SMAP, and Howl of Moving Castle fame – there’s not much he hasn’t done). Other popular actors play additional roles, and collaborated closely with the studio on characterisation. The game’s opening titles mimic those of a Japanese television production, giving the whole thing very strong ‘legal drama’ vibes that work wonderfully.
Sure, it’s by the Yakuza developer. But having gone hands-on with the game, it’s clear Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio is making efforts to step away from just creating a reskinned pure fight-’em-up. Yagami’s an investigator, and while he may have to get his hands dirty from time to time, he’ll need to be discreet when he’s on a case.
Those lock picks you always keep in your pocket will gather dust no longer, and you’ll also have to profile suspects based on descriptions, pick over crime scenes, tail people without arousing suspicion, and chase down those who flee. You may even have to don a disguise on occasion. It changes the pace quite a lot to have more variation in the gameplay, though everything in our demo is quite simple. We’d love to see it reach Ace Attorney levels of taxing — as an Ace Attorney x Yakuza game would be one of the all-time dream mash-ups.
Of course, Yagami still has to rough people up occasionally. While some of the moves might be called different things, Yagami’s martial arts are dispatched with extreme prejudice in much the same way as Kiryu’s are in Yakuza 6. You could go from one game to the next, and already know how to fight, which is no bad thing when Yakuza’s fighting is just that good. But with the addition of things such as style switching, Project Judge is going that step further, taking the Dragon Engine’s combat up a notch. It looks like Project Judge’s story will be more serious and more like a drama than Yakuza, and with Yagami as a lead it’ll hopefully stand apart from its sibling series, despite using some of the same assets. Our taster session goes to show that Project Judge is certainly no cold case.
You might have explored Kamurocho before, but never before as Yagami. Will any of our favourite Yakuza characters be making cameos?