Soul Hackers 2 Review – Cheating Death With Soul Hack
Shin Megami Tensei is one of Atlus’ most successful series. It has spawned various spin-offs, the most well-known of which are the games Persona and Devil Summoner. Souls Hackers is yet another spin-off from the Shin Megami Tensei franchise. It was first published for the PlayStation 1 in 1999 as Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers and was later ported to the Nintendo 3DS. Soul Hackers 2 was released on current-generation platforms as a sequel. It’s simply a soft reboot that doesn’t require much of its predecessor.
Soul Hackers 2 takes place in the 21st century. The main plot revolves around a conflict of power between the two most influential Devil Summoner groups, Yatagarasu and Phantom Society. The game begins with the appearance of Aion, an artificial entity with supernatural abilities. Aion can foretell a terrible catastrophe for the world and uses its powers to create two beings named Ringo and Figue. They are despatched to the human world to investigate the reason for this devastating event. To acquire a solution swiftly, each of them travels to a separate group. This is when the main story begins to unfold, presenting the main characters.
Through a technology known as Soul Hacks, Ringo and Figue can offer humans new lives. This enables them to grant everyone a second shot at life while also allowing them to work together to save the world. While they are AI-created sentient beings, they attempt to learn human nature with all of its shortcomings throughout the story. This moral dilemma is played throughout a narrative in which the odds are essentially an end-of-the-world twist, a popular cliché in JRPGs.
Unlike its Persona spin-off, Shin Megami Tensei games are often gloomy and depressing, but Soul Hackers 2 does not look to follow pace. It has a lively and colourful universe in which the player may connect with party members outside of battle and strengthen their bonds with them. This entry’s gameplay also feels more simplified, similar to Persona 5 rather than the older Devil Summoner titles. As a side note, an issue I experienced with the game was that the DLC demons made the player feel OP, therefore breaking the game’s balance.
Unfortunately, Soul Hackers 2 lacks the budget and polish that one would expect from a mainline Shin Megami Tensei and Persona game. The dungeon design is sometimes repetitious, thus going through them isn’t always a pleasant experience. Aside from that, most of the side content is equally uninteresting. The gameplay, on the other hand, is the game’s saving grace. With many skills and abilities to unlock for the various characters, the combat feels refreshing.
The game’s difficulty is not on par with a mainstream Shin Megami Tensei game, although this is due to the streamlined gameplay rather than a problem with game balance (save for the DLC bonus). The game prioritizes exploiting each enemy’s weakness and includes a bonus in the form of an all-out attack that is necessary for clearing out a group of enemies. These are flashy attacks that are fun to see the first few times but can be skipped afterward with a button press.
So, although the combat is exciting, the dungeon design falls short, which takes us to the characters. An excellent game is generally distinguished by a memorable cast of characters. They may lift an ordinary game to a good one, and a good one to a spectacular one if they are effectively developed during the game. The cast of characters in Soul Hackers 2 is strong, having a backstory to enable them to connect with the players. Each one has a different personality. Playing through the side content rather than the main story allows you to better identify their traits.
The story of the party members is fleshed out through optional content in the Soul Matrix, and it can be found in Axis. This is a fully optional dungeon that is linked to each of our party members. It’s similar to Tartarus from Persona 3. To be honest, I’m not sure how I’d get through the main story without diving deeper into the Soul Matrix. It may not have a wonderful dungeon design, but there are some decent rewards for completing it, and the character’s background gets fleshed out more if we do. The main plot looks to have a greater impact if we go through the optional dungeons, thus I would consider the side stuff to be decent even though much of it feels repetitive.
Going through the main story will still take at least 40 hours if you are slow, but if you include the optional content, it will easily take more than 60 hours to complete the game. In a way, the game hides its ‘true ending’ behind the optional stuff, which adds to the replay value if you’re a completionist. This is a good length for a JRPG, and Soul Hackers 2 seems to deliver on it.
On a technical level, I was surprised to see an option between a 60 FPS performance mode and a graphics mode. I found that the performance mode worked well enough for me that I didn’t need to use the graphics mode when playing on the PS5. The enhanced controller response and smoother performance make it easier to sit through battles, and we can even fast-forward through some of the gameplay sequences.
Soul Hackers 2 Game Information
- Price: $59.99
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Atlus
- Platform: PS5 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher