On the surface, Soul Hackers 2 looks like a usable JRPG, with vibrant visuals and a simple combat system derived from the past Shin Megami Tensei securities. Whereas Soul Hackers 2 could serve as a solid introduction to the whole Megami Tensei franchise and the lesser known Devil Summoner sub-series, its lack of direction gives the game a rather hollow feel. It is not only juxtaposed against its critically acclaimed contemporaries, but even more so against its 25-year-old predecessor.
Released in August 2022, Soul Hackers 2 marks the fifth entry into the Devil Summoner sub-series, as well as a sequel to the 1997 cult classic, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers. While Western audiences would not receive an official release from The Soul Pirates until its 2013 remake for the Nintendo 3DS, the game became an instant favorite among fans, primarily due to its signature ’90s style, surreal dungeons, and unique gameplay mechanics. Unfortunately, Soul Hackers 2 doesn’t build on the more endearing aspects of its predecessor, resulting in a sequel that doesn’t top the original.
the original The Soul Pirates nurtures a strong sense of individualism among the greatest Megami Tensei bookcase because of its easily identifiable aesthetic. Designed at a time when the internet was in its infancy, the original The Soul Pirates embraces the turbulent era of the late ’90s, giving each cast member a touch of decade fashion mixed with cyberpunk tech gear. In all fairness, the main protagonist of Soul Hackers 2, Ringo and his partner, Figue, display incredibly memorable designs indicating their origins as an artificial intelligence. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the rest of the cast, whose designs tend to look incredibly busy and lack a cohesive aesthetic.
Moreover, the original The Soul Pirates skillfully used its two main settings, the thriving port city of Amami City and the virtual reality program known as Paradigm X, to create a series of diverse dungeons. The great variety of the original The Soul Pirates allows each dungeon to stand out on its own merits, such as the Astro Museum, which tests the player’s knowledge of the constellations, or the VR Art Museum, which requires the player to enter the worlds of paintings and solve their puzzles respective.
By comparison, the dungeons of Soul Hackers 2 show a complete lack of variety alongside incredibly uninspired layouts. Additionally, dungeons offer little to no challenge in terms of traversal, with the occasional locked door or barrier acting as the main source of puzzle solving. Additionally, most dungeons are set in visually repetitive locations like shipping ports and abandoned subway stations, accompanied by a very underwhelming soundtrack featuring a small selection of generic piano tracks that offer very little atmosphere and immersion.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two titles lies in the integration of demons into their respective combat systems. the original The Soul Pirates possesses a unique fighting style, primarily due to its demon loyalty system, a gameplay mechanic that dictates a demon’s obedience to player commands. In order to maximize a demon’s loyalty, the player must command skills that coincide with the personality of the selected demon or, alternatively, allow the demon to act of its own volition. While this mechanic can admittedly lead to a series of unpredictable and less than desirable behaviors from partner demons, the loyalty system is incredibly rewarding as the player gains the ability to fully command and optimize their party by displaying an understanding depth of the demon. Personality traits.
Conversely, Soul Hackers 2 opts for a modernized approach to combat derived from the ubiquitous press-turn combat system in Shin Megami Tensei securities. Combat primarily revolves around optimizing skills and exploiting enemy weaknesses to increase the number of demons in a Sabbat, an AOE attack that takes place at the end of the player’s turn. Additionally, the player no longer fights alongside demons and instead equips a specific demon to their COMP, temporarily gaining their skills and affinities, similar to how equipping a character works in the mainline. Character securities.
The lack of emphasis on party demons and the abandonment of the loyalty system removes the identity and strategic nuances present not only in the original The Soul Pirates but the whole Devil Summoner sub-series. As a result, the fight Soul Hackers 2 comes as a watered down version of the turn-based combat system, devoid of any kind of individualism aside from the sabbath attack, which already bears a striking resemblance to the all-out attack found in modern versions . Character titles as well as the Demon Co-op of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey.
In an effort to establish Soul Hackers 2 as the next great juggernaut in the widest Megami Tensei franchise, Atlus seems to have forgotten what made the original The Soul Pirates so endearing. Amid uninspired dungeon crawling and lackluster combat, Soul Hackers 2 ultimately fails to top the original due to its inherent lack of identity. The game borrows too much from its contemporaries to be considered fresh and exciting, while simultaneously neglecting the charm and authenticity of its predecessor.