Sony has been on a roll these past couple of days due to the PlayStation Lineup event, a live showcase of all their upcoming new titles (including ones that will be seen at Tokyo Game Show later this month). During the show, Yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi took to the stage to announce the new project Sega's Yakuza team have been working on the past few years. The game, which was rumored and talked about this past month, goes by the name of Project Judge (Judge Eyes in Japan). Not only did the game get a hefty focus during the event with a story-centric trailer, Sega also announced that the game has a playable demo out now on the Japanese PSN Store. Fans of the Yakuza series should read onwards, as Project Judge will be right up your alley.
Whereas Yakuza centered around criminal organizations and the story of one very important ex-criminal, Project Judge is taking a different approach by having us play as a detective on the side of the law. This detective, Takayuki Yagami, used to be a defense lawyer. He left the practice out of shame when his former client that he saved goes on to murder people again. Now, he operates as a private detective who investigates crimes in his own ways. While this shift from crime to the law is an interesting contrast, Project Judge does still wear some of its Yakuza inspiration on its sleeve. Combat plays out in a similar over-the-top fashion, with brawling and use of your environment being a heavy focus. The game has some big names behind it too, as Yagami is motion captured and acted by famous Japanese actor/singer Takuya Kimura.
Where the gameplay truly differs the most from Yakuza is its detective mechanics. Nagoshi explained that he and the team had always wanted to make a game that centered around this sort of play, and with Project Judge, they can do exactly that. Large portions of the game will be spent investigating various crime scenes and criminals. Yagami has a lot of different investigative strategies up his sleeve, such as wearing disguises, tailing suspects, etc. You can even take photo evidence of anything important to later be used in a courtroom against the suspect. Some have drawn comparisons to Ace Attorney in this aspect, and it wouldn't be too far off. Interestingly, the game takes place in Kamurocho, the same Kabukicho-inspired setting that the Yakuza series takes place in. Due to the same locales, it's possible the two series will be connected in some way. Just like Yakuza, Project Judge will also feature plenty of goofy side content to enjoy.
Project Judge will be releasing in Japan first on December 13th at the end of the year and has been confirmed for a Western release sometime in 2019. A heartening change compared to the days-of-old when we could never be sure if Sega was even going to bother localizing a Yakuza game for the West. If you want to try out the game for yourself and don't mind a slight language barrier, the demo can be downloaded for free from the Japanese PSN Store. All you have to do is make a Japanese PSN account and look up how to navigate to the demos section. The demo is a nice slice of the beginning of the game and should help you figure it out if you're on the fence about it. Below is the five-minute-long story trailer that Sega showed for the game at PlayStation's event, so make sure to give that a watch too!