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Soul Hackers 2 Review, Pros, Cons – The Final Verdict

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Due to the immense popularity that the Persona franchise now enjoys, Atlus regularly releases games in the Shin Megami Tensei universe. We were treated to a great game last year in the form of Shin Megami Tensei V, but this year we’re getting a sequel to one of the other spin-offs in this universe. About 25 years later, Soul Hackers finally gets a sequel. What this game entails is of course turn-based RPG gameplay of the highest quality, but this game has managed to unleash so much more with us and we’ll tell you more about that in this review.

Life After Death

The world is about to end because of a plan created by the Phantom Society, a group of devil summoners who want to shape the world according to their ideology. The leader of this gang, a mysterious type by the name of Iron Mask, wants to get his hands on all the covenants. These are mysterious creatures that house themselves in humans and devil summoners, making these individuals extremely powerful or smart. To counter this plan, the universe’s leaders, Aion, have two of their most capable creatures put into human form to stop the Phantom Society. Meet Ringo and Figue.

Their mission is primarily to protect two people whose deaths are inherently linked to the apocalypse. When Ringo and Figue arrive, it seems to be too late. Ringo decides to perform a soul hack to bring a man named Arrow back to life. With Arrow back alive, they quickly go after a lady named Milady, one of the covenant bearers. Unfortunately, that also leads to disappointment, although Ringo once again applies a soul hack to bring her back to life too. Milady’s Covenant settles in Figue, prompting the team to stop taking Figue out on fieldwork as Iron Mask has launched the hunt for the Covenants.

The next covenant bearer the group gets on their radar is a man named Saizo, a devil summoner who makes his living as a private detective. He also appears to have been murdered, forcing Ringo to perform another soul hack. Unfortunately, Saizo’s covenant has already been given to Iron Mask. As the story progresses, the three devil summoners Ringo rescued are revealed to have a history with the Phantom Society, and they each have their own memories of it. Together they will have to prevent the end of the world by defeating all kinds of devil summoners, demons, and their inner demons. In short, there’s plenty going on and the plot of Soul Hackers 2 didn’t bore us for a second, so we dived into it wholeheartedly.

Welcome Home

Shin Megami Tensei’s classic combat system hasn’t changed much in Soul Hackers 2, but still has a minor change. The people in your party can no longer summon demons because they have been brought back to life with Ringo’s soul hack. Instead, the powers of the demons they possess reside in their COMP, which is a weapon. For example, Ringo and Milady start with melee weapons and Arrow and Saizo start with guns. While they can also simply attack with those weapons, they also use the powers of their demons through the COMP. But in doing so, they also take over the weaknesses of those demons. Broadly speaking, the gameplay is still rock solid and for a turn-based JRPG fanatic, it is once again fully enjoyable.

The world of Soul Hackers 2 has several dungeons that you will have to explore for the story, but also to complete side missions. You can pick up these side missions at a desk in the city, but you can also encounter demons in the dungeons themselves that have a special request for you. In addition, you also have the Axis, the realm of Aion. In the Axis, you can dive deeper into the souls of your teammates to learn more about their past. It’s teeming with demons here, but there’s plenty of useful stuff to be found. Think not only of single-use items such as medicines, but also items that make certain attacks stronger. Although playing through the Axis is not a mandatory number, it does add the necessary backstory to the story, something we strongly recommend doing.

Brother Persona

Soul Hackers 2 has borrowed some from its big brother Persona. Persona is also immensely popular because of the life-sim aspect that is incorporated in that game. In Soul Hackers 2 you have a so-called soul level with each of your teammates. You increase this by taking their side in heated discussions or by, for example, having a drink with them at the bar in the city. Raising the soul level opens up new floors in everyone’s soul when you go to the Axis and thus learn more about their past with the Phantom Society. And the further you go, the stronger the demons you will encounter.

In addition, the city is more interactive than in most Shin Megami Tensei games. There are several shops to buy equipment, food, and other items. The city is divided into several districts that you can transport to via the map. That brings us to a complaint: the loading times when transporting to another part of the city are terrible. We played Soul Hackers 2 on PC and installed the game on an SSD, but we had to wait a lot of times. Once you are in an area, there is nothing to worry about. Going in and out of a building just goes smoothly without significant loading times.

The city also has districts that are only accessible to devil summoners. In these districts, you will find specialist shops where you can get items that a normal person would not be able to use, as well as the possibility to upgrade your COMP. Most importantly, of course, is fusing your demons. A demon will eventually learn nothing new and it is therefore important to merge it with another demon to learn some new attacks. You recruit demons into the dungeons you play in. Every now and then you will come across one who will be happy to join your team, for a price that is.

Simply Fantastic

What Soul Hackers 2 has copied well from its bigger brother is the style in this game. In terms of textures and shadows, Soul Hackers 2 isn’t really impressive, but damn we are in love with the style of this game. The colors of the city burst from your screen, and the shots during the turn-based battles look so incredibly smooth and stylish that Soul Hackers 2 never bore us visually. In addition, the game also ran smoothly on the setup we used (Ryzen 3700X, 32GB ram, Radeon 6900XT) and we had everything on the highest settings at 1440p. The game ran at a constant 144fps, the full spectrum of our 144hz monitor.

We are also quite lyrical about the soundtrack. Catchy tunes during battle, as well as tone-setting music when it matters. Due to the futuristic theme, we occasionally heard techno and even dubstep-inspired pieces that perfectly add to the ambiance of the game. The English voice cast has definitely done its best and can be placed right next to Persona 5, a game that is also known for its excellent English voice cast. Soul Hackers 2 may be a title that will not score as highly as many other RPGs, but you don’t notice that in the production quality that has been put into it.

Played on: PC
Also available on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.

Conclusion

We enjoyed Soul Hackers 2. This is, besides Persona, the best Shin Megami Tensei spin-off we’ve had the pleasure of playing. The game didn’t bore us for a moment, the style drips from it and the story kept us captivated. The loading times when you’re traveling through the city are a minus, but that’s really the only problem we have with this game. If you’re a fan of turn-based RPGs, give Soul Hackers 2 a try. If you are a fan of Shin Megami Tensei, don’t think twice and go play Soul Hackers 2. If you are only a fan of the Persona games, consider playing Soul Hackers 2. Now we can only hope that a possible third part will not be another 25 years away.

Pros:

  • Intriguing story
  • Solid gameplay
  • More than enough content
  • Style drips off the game
  • Good soundtrack and voice acting

Cons:

  • Charging times while traveling through the city
  • Minor graphic imperfections
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