Yakuza becomes a turn-based RPG, but Judgment provides an action fix

lost judgment
(Image credit: Sega)

FYI: Yakuza: Dead Souls is still available — but you may not want to play it

The Yakuza series is a big favorite at Tom’s Guide. Our staff loves the intense crime drama stories, the zany side quests and the refined gameplay. In fact, Yakuza’s gameplay has been consistently delightful, even when it transitioned from an open-world brawler to a turn-based RPG in the recent Yakuza: Like a Dragon

If you liked Yakuza’s foray into RPG gameplay, we have good news: the series will remain a turn-based RPG going forward. And, if you didn’t like it, we also have good news: the spinoff series Judgment will keep Yakuza’s brawler roots intact.

That information comes from IGN, which conducted an interview with Yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi, and Kazuki Hosokawa, the game's producer. After the recent announcement of Lost Judgment (a sequel to 2018’s Yakuza spinoff, Judgment), the IGN team wanted to know how the two series would differentiate themselves going forward. The answer, as it turns out, is to put them in two different genres.

“The Yakuza series has been transformed into a turn-based RPG,” said Nagoshi and Hosokawa. “On the other hand, [Yakuza developer] Ryu ga Gotoku Studio has accumulated resources and know-how of making flashy and exhilarating action games that are effortless to enjoy. We decided that we should let our signature action gameplay live on through Lost Judgment.”

For Yakuza and Judgment fans, this arrangement seems to offer the best of both worlds. While Yakuza: Like a Dragon represented a huge gameplay shift from earlier games, the vibrant setting, offbeat humor and labyrinthine plot were all still present and accounted for. It “felt” very much like a Yakuza game. Likewise, Judgment didn’t have recurring Yakuza protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, but still had the nuanced explorable city and bevy of side quests that fans have come to expect.

The interview also suggests that there’s another Yakuza game in the works. While Ryu ga Gotoku Studio has already announced Lost Judgment, we’re still waiting for information about a follow-up to Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Since the studio has already nailed down some gameplay specifics, we can assume that Yakuza 8 is percolating somewhere; how long we’ll have to wait for it is anyone’s guess.

Generally speaking, we get a new Yakuza/Judgment game every year or two, and we know that Lost Judgment will debut in September 2021. As such, we may very well get our second turn-based Yakuza RPG in 2022, or 2023 at latest. There are also still a handful of Yakuza games that never made it to Western shores, and Sega is still interested in localizing them, if possible.

If you’ve never played the Yakuza series before, we recommend catching up on the first six games via Xbox Game Pass on either Xbox or PC. It’s a big time commitment, but a fun one.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.