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Sega’s Yakuza studio announces detective game Project Judge

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Toshihiro Nagoshi’s team behind the Yakuza series at Sega has announced its next major work. The PS4 game is called Judge Eyes: Shinigami no Yuigon in Japanese and carries the working title of Project Judge in English. Like Yakuza, Project Judge is a gritty real-world drama set in present-day Japan, but flips the stakes altogether by casting the player character as a former lawyer turned detective.

While the excellent Yakuza 6 featured megastar actor Beat Takeshi in a key role, Sega has managed to one-up its star power this time around. Project Judge stars Takuya Kimura, actor and former member of colossal Japanese boy band SMAP. “Kimutaku” is one of the most famous entertainers in Japan; imagine if Justin Timberlake were cast in the Uncharted series and you’ll get an idea of how big a coup this is.

Project Judge was announced with a brief trailer at Sony’s pre-Tokyo Game Show event today, but a subsequent closed-door conference showed off a lot more footage of how the game plays out. The combat and general movement through the city is extremely reminiscent of Yakuza, but it looks like there’s a lot more variety in the core gameplay. As a detective you have to collect a lot of clues, whether by finding them in person or by flying a drone around the city, and there’s a stealth element to tracking people. Project Judge also shares the Yakuza series’ penchant for quirky, tangential minigames.

Perhaps the most surprising part of Project Judge’s announcement is its release date: the game will come out on December 13th this year in Japan and other Asian markets, and a demo is available on the Japanese PlayStation Store today. The game will be out in the West under its finalized title next year.