Judge Eyes is the provisional title of the new project realized by the Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, the development team behind the series Yakuza . Presented during the traditional conference that Sony holds every year before Tokyo Game Show the game will arrive in Japanese stores on December 13th and is already available on the Japanese PlayStation Store with a demo we tried to understand what kind of experience we will face even Western users, when the product will be distributed in Europe next year. The plot of the game revolves around Takayuki Yagami, a lawyer in a law firm who decides to leave the profession after a customer who has defended and made him cleans up a horrible murder and is caught in the act.

Three years later, we find him in the role of the private investigator: a job less tied to bureaucratic procedures, with few constraints and the possibility of personally evaluating cases and clues. Moving in a gray area, Takayuki deals with dealing with cases of corruption, scandals, scams and even murders. Apparently the main storyline will revolve around a series of crimes on which the protagonist will try to shed light, using not only their physicality but also a series of electronic devices that will add to the experience a certain degree of variety, such as cameras and drones.

    

        
    
        

    
        

Combat system

    
    

The Judge Eyes trailer was limited to show the cinematic sequences of the game, passing the message that it was a simulative, cinematic title: a "Yakuza without the slaps", as someone rightly suggested. In reality, the demo clarifies very well how, at the end of the day, this new project supervised by Toshihiro Nagoshi is actually a real spin-off by Yakuza, set in the same universe, in the same fictitious neighborhood of Kamurocho is equipped with mechanics and structure practically identical to the adventures of Kazuma Kiryu, albeit with some interesting additions.

        
            

        
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<p> After the introduction, which tells how the protagonist decided to abandon the profession of lawyer, the demo version takes us directly to three years after those events, with Takayuki disguised as homeless, intent on following a trail . The stealthy intervention of some thugs immediately reveals the action vocation of the game, which uses the same fighting system of the Yakuza series, with the <strong> heat action </strong> also linked to the use of objects in the scenery (recycling the bulk of the animations, it must be said) but a more imaginative use of surfaces, on which the character can "bounce" during their combos to make spectacular flying attacks.</p>
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<p> There are also the <strong> styles </strong> introduced with Yakuza 0, activated by acting on the d-pad: there are at least two, which modify Takayuki's moves to allow him to face special opponents, like the one with which we will have to measure ourselves at the end of the demo. It is interesting to note that the d-pad is always assigned fast actions, for example the consumption of a healing object: a solution that avoids having to stop the action to access the inventory in case you have remained with little energy. Considering the solidity of the foundations, it is clear that Judge Eyes' combat system has its own: the performance of the blows is well appreciated, the heat action is always spectacular (although, as mentioned, to a large extent already seen) and there it will certainly be a space for character growth in terms of new maneuvers and special attacks.</p>
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Scenarios and activities

    
    

The map available in the Judge Eyes demo is that of Kamurocho, which fans of the Yakuza series know very well. Stylistically, the fictional Tokyo district looks somewhat different than the adventures of the Dojima Dragon, but the version of the Dragon Engine used is of course the most recent and not only demonstrate the frame rate of 30 frames per second (sometimes wobbly on PlayStation 4 Pro : surely the thing will be arranged from here to the launch), but also free access to shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, although limited in this demo version to a single fast food in which, however, it is not possible to order anything.

        
            

        
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<p> The full version of the game, however, will include not only the collateral activities typical of the franchise of <strong> Ryu Ga Gotoku </strong>but also a series of novelties: salt for the <strong> reality virtual </strong>pinball and the possibility of using the aforementioned <strong> drone </strong> to explore the evocative Japanese scenery from above, possibly taking pictures. The new elements are not limited to the boundary, and already the demo puts some in the field: as a good investigator, Takayuki Yagami arrives in the area reported to him by a collaborator and there must use the camera to identify a target based on a signage image . Then begins a tracking section very similar to those seen in past episodes of Assassin's Creed, with the suspicion that from time to time you look at your shoulders and forces us to find shelter behind a billboard or in the middle of a small group of people.</p>
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<p> This is an interesting way to enhance some views of the setting, but not the most appropriate if you want to keep engaging the <strong> gameplay </strong>: we hope that in the end the developers recur little to this type of situations. After the tracking, a new <strong> minigame </strong> starts to identify the distance and activate the drone, but something goes wrong and the suspect realizes our presence, giving himself to escape. So begins a frantic pursuit based on <strong> quick time event </strong> quite similar to those seen in the classic Shenmue, with a final tackle (also this borrowed from Assassin's Creed) that serves as a prelude to the final fight, the whose term we will have to deliver money from our adversary. Was it a credit recovery mission? Possible, but being the demo all in Japanese it's hard to say.</p>
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Preliminary Impressions

    
    

The fact that Judge Eyes (fortunately tentative title: we hope that the authors find something better) is a spin-off of Yakuza constitutes on the one hand reason of enthusiasm, on the other hand arouses some perplexity. The scenario of Kamurocho is in fact already widely seen, even abused, and a mere stylistic change may not be enough to refresh the experience from the point of view of exploration: we hope that in the final product will also find other maps. It is certainly interesting the mix proposed for the gameplay, which combines a very well tested and always pleasant (but also here largely unexplored) combat system to unprecedented mechanics related to the profession of the protagonist, that if deepened properly they could actually do the difference.

        
    

                            
                        

                        
                        

                        
                    

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