Soul Hackers 2 Preview: Cyberpunk Image and Demonic Fun

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I’ll be the first to admit that Soul Hackers 2 didn’t come to my attention as it should have. In a year replete with exciting role—playing releases — from FromSoft’s Elden Ring styles to the familiar but innovative attributes of JRPG Xenoblade Chronicles 3 – it’s a high request for any game from the narrower sub-series of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, Devil Summoner, to impress. However, underneath the neon exterior of cyberpunk lurks a very competent and fascinating JRPG; one that absolutely shouldn’t be slept on if its first few hours are anything to go by.

Soul Hackers 2 takes place in Japan after decades of rapid technological and cultural revolution. Society expanded, repeated, and developed rapidly during this period before it stalled over the next few years, creating a sluggish, dystopian landscape full of flashing lights and nothing else. It is here that a group of Summoners called the Ghost Society hatches a doomsday plot that uses the ability to hire demons to do their bidding to aid their plan.

Aion, a creature born from the Internet — and yet suspiciously useful despite this — has so much computing power that it can actually see the future, which means it knows about the impending apocalypse. Ringo and Figo are generated by this entity as two Soul Hackers who are designed to stop the escalation of the situation. Initially, they are tasked with preventing deaths that are key to the end of days, before assembling a group of people who will one day try to stop a big threat. and for everyone.

The story, unsurprisingly, is quite ambitious. This is pretty good for a spin-off of Shin Megami Tensei, especially for one that is so much interested in technological innovations and their impact on society. The cast behind the narrative is interesting to watch together, and they begin to develop their relationship early, making it easy to invest in their personal arcs along with the greater doom and gloom of Japan’s cyberpunk world. Being able to chat with one or more team members at a bar and get to know them better is just one of the ways Soul Hackers 2 grounds its dizzying narrative with a more familiar sense of camaraderie, and it works well to maintain stability.

Although the elements of a social simulator are much simpler than something like Persona, what’s here is really nice. Cooking gives bonuses and small intimate conversations, while completing quests opens up more bar hangouts and some other privileges. The mechanics will be familiar to anyone who has played Persona or Shin Megami Tensei games: summoners can hire demons, combine them, train them and fight them against wild ones to advance through the dungeons. In addition, there are various shops and upgrades that can equip both the summoners themselves and their weapons.

The Battle features a Press Turn version of the battle, which has become a staple of many SMT games. This time, the advantage lies in the use of weaknesses in Sabbath, an all-out attack involving every demon that contributed to the identification of shortcomings in the enemy’s defense. “Shabbat” is a cool visual featuring the demons of the party, and it’s also incredibly powerful. While the fights remain challenging, especially at higher difficulty levels, Soul Hackers 2 seems extremely accessible at the easiest difficulty level, which may actually encourage some users to switch to more complex settings after a while.

Graphically, Soul Hackers 2 looks like it conveys the tone correctly, and many of its cool 80s-style hacking glitches and flickering on the screen seem awe-inspiring rather than cheesy. Demons look great in 3D, and each model of the main character is charismatic and unique. The voice acting in English was also impeccable, and the outstanding performance of Griffin Poitou from Saizo complemented the rest of the team.

Soul Hackers 2 has a lot to sort out that can’t be mentioned in the preview, but the first few hours of the game are filled with promises that are quickly fulfilled. Most of the game inherently seems fun, first of all, and while it moves at a fast pace in places, there are plenty of distractions and dungeons to get stuck into for those who need a break from the main plot. Even though a game combining style and narrative has to land to get full approval, at least the first impressions of Soul Hackers 2 prove that no JRPG fan should absolutely sleep with it.

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