Soul Hackers 2, the newest role-playing game in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise from Atlus developers, offers a combination of classic elements from other Atlus games and completely new innovations and game modes. Although technically Soul Hackers 2 is a sequel to the 1997 game Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, it has a new setting, new characters and a completely new form of the titular Soul Hacking. Instead of hacking the Internet, the main character Ringo “hacks” the members of his group to connect their minds and souls. Through their connected souls, Ringo can raise his soul level with each member of the group-an element that critics have compared and contrasted with the confidants and social references present in the Persona series.
Ringo can form and level up souls with three members of her group, and this gives her access to a metaphysical dungeon called the Soul Matrix. Higher soul levels allow Ringo and her group members to perform better in battles with enemy demons and devil summoners. Although soul levels are superficially similar to social connections and confidants in that they serve as Ringo’s primary method for improving relationships with members of her group, these two gameplay elements are mechanically very different from each other.
Soul levels are only available to group members
Social links were first introduced in Persona 3 and have since appeared in subsequent Persona 4 and Persona 5 games, the latter of which renamed the system Confidants. Each Persona game features more than 20 social links or proxies, each of which corresponds to one of the senior arcana of the Tarot deck, and the main character himself represents the Fool Arcana. Proxies are not limited to playing group members; The main characters of Persona 3, Persona 4 and Persona 5 can communicate with their classmates, teachers, neighbors, parents and even with the supernatural inhabitants of the Velvet Room.
Ringo, on the other hand, has only three characters with whom she can raise soul levels: the game members of the Arrow group, Milady and Saizo. All three are human summoners of the devil, with Arrow and Milady representing the conflicting factions of the Summoners of Yatagarasu and the Ghost Society, and Saizo works as a freelancer. Ringo can interact with a number of other characters, including another Aion Figu and key figures from both Devil Summoner factions, but she cannot form or raise soul levels with anyone who is not a member of her group.
Trusted persons require strict schedule management
With so many proxies and limited time to do this, Persona games players are forced to strictly manage their schedule to maximize the number of their proxies. Each proxy or social link consists of ten ranks, and most ranks require communication with a proxy in the main character’s free time. Walking with confidants is not the only way Persona protagonists can spend their free time — they can also work part—time, watch movies, explore dungeons, etc. D., therefore, players are often forced to be careful during the first passage. choose and give priority only to the best trusted persons, and not maximize each of them.
With far fewer relationships to worry about and much less time-based gameplay, Soul Hackers 2’s social system can be far less stressful for players than Persona’s daily scheduling. It is much easier to balance which of the three Ringo characters will give preference and with whom to spend time. This is especially true since the main story encourages spending time with Arrow, whose soul level is necessary for the development of the main story, which Milady and Sizo do not have. Players who have been frustrated by Persona’s social links and proxies may find the soul level system a relaxing and welcome alternative.
Soul levels are tied to the soul matrix
Raising the soul level of the three members of the group is not just a way for Ringo to get to know the members of his group better. The soul level of each character is tied to a vast “dungeon of human consciousness” called the Soul Matrix. Advancing through the Soul Matrix can help Ringo and the group level up, get better gear, and find items and side quests through the Demon Recon system. Certain levels of the Soul Matrix will be closed by gates, which require a certain level of soul with a certain character to unlock. To advance through the Soul Matrix, Ringo needs to focus on raising the soul level of all three available characters.
Although Persona 4 and Persona 5 have dungeons associated with the human subconscious, they open as the main story continues and are not tied to trusted persons. Instead, Soul Matrix is more like Mementos, the multi-story dungeon from Persona 5.