A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Judgment is an action game for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Google Stadia. The game stars a detective out to find and catch a serial killer. Much of the gameplay involves martial arts combat against other characters, and items nearby (like a bicycle or street sign) can be used as a weapon. There's blood in battle and cutscenes, but no gore. Some cut-scene sequences show people killed, mostly by gun violence. The game also has sexual imagery, including partial nudity and references to sex in the dialog. It also has a character named Ass Catchem who gropes a scared young man's buttocks. The protagonist can drink excessively and there's smoking that frequently occurs. Finally, there's strong profanity, including words like "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole." While there's downloadable content for the PlayStation 4 version that can be optionally purchased, all of this is included in the PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and Google Stadia versions.
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What's it about?
JUDGMENT is a single-player action game that tells of a disgraced lawyer-turn-private eye, who seeks out a serial killer on the loose -- while also fighting back against the yakuza criminal underbelly of a fictitious Japanese city. As Takayuki "Tak" Yagami, you'll roam around the open-world red light district of Kamurocho -- often with your partner Kaito (a former yakuza) -- to interact with citizens, take on missions and side quests (including mini-games and racing challenges), investigate incidents that might be tied to your case (like tailing a suspicious person), and engage in fights. Players can use thier training to unleash Tiger Style (for more one-on-one skirmishes, with powerful strikes and chained attacks) and Crane Style (think The Karate Kid) for taking down larger groups. Along with punches, kicks and acrobatic defense maneuvers, you can also grab items in the environment -- such as a fallen street sign in an alleyway -- and use it to pummel enemies. Most of the game is played from a cinematic third-person view, but there are some instances when it shifts to a first-person perspective. The PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Stadia versions also include a number of enhancements, such as accelerated load times, enhanced visuals at 60 frames per second, and all of the previously released optional downloadable content (DLC) automatically included.
Is it any good?
Between its compelling story and memorable characters, engaging gameplay and high production values, this is an underrated story worthy of your collection. Judgment is an exceptionally fun (yet mature) urban adventure that fuses combat with detective work, racing, and other gameplay elements -- and presented with impressive visuals and audio. While some missions and side stories might not be as exciting as the combat, the game gets most things just right. Specifically, the real-time fights are so rewarding, especially as you learn to master Tak's moves and combos in both Crane and Tiger Style battles. To compliment your punches and kicks are the many props you can use -- ranging from chopsticks to concrete pillars to chairs -- as well as special chained moves and powerful attacks that result in supernatural color and motion effects, and dramatic camera and zoom angles. While triggered, there are some break-dance like attacks, running up walls and other parkour moves, and "Quick Time Events." You really do feel like you're in a kung fu movie. It's also notable that the PS5, Series X/S, and Stadia versions have been enhanced, making this movie presentation feel slicker and faster paced. It's hard not to feel immersed into the action across these systems, and the bonus of getting the additional DLC added in just gives you a bonus leg up in your quest for justice.
The detective work is mostly engaging, too, except some long or repetitive tailing side missions where you need to remain discrete while ducking out of the way to sneak behind a suspect or other person of interest. But as with games like the Grand Theft Auto series, you can select what missions to take (with a similar map you can open to see where you need to go). There are benefits for helping people, as they'll remember your assistance and reward you with help in fights, giving you extra items, and so on. There are many mini-games, too, ranging from casino diversions and a Mario Party-like board game to a light-gun shooter and simpler 2D arcade games. Judgment may not enjoy the same level of fanfare of other games in the west, but adult gamers looking for a virtual thrill in a seedy and glitzy Japanese world should enjoy their hands-on time with this game.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Judgment affected by the realism of the hand to hand combat that results in blood being spilled? Would the impact be lessened if blood wasn't shown as a result of combat, or would that not seem realistic?
Does Judgment need to include the heightened focus on swearing, drinking, and sexual situations, or would excluding them be something that wouldn't be accurate for the story?
- Platforms: Google Stadia, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sega of America
- Release date: April 23, 2021
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Friendship
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol
- Last updated: April 23, 2021
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.