After being pretty dormant for 25 years, Soul Hackers is the unexpected series Atlus tries to bring into the modern era. The JRPG table does not risk or bring new things, but Soul Hacker 2 is so fun enough to justify the long -awaited revival. While it may be held back a bit by the uninspired level design and turn-based battle mechanics, the story manages to hold it together thanks to its diverse cast of characters and themes about what it means to be human. It shines bright enough to help you carry it.
Soul Hackers 2 may be technically a sequel, but it works more smartly as a soft reboot and makes a profit to players who jump into franchises for the first time. Created as an artificially intelligent agent who knows almost everything, you are sent on a mission with your partner’s figure to change the future and prevent the world from being destroyed. You play as Ringo, a charismatically curious human construct who is stubborn. Ringo brings an intriguing perspective while saving the world, trying to learn more about both it and humanity while doing so. Throughout the story, it was more attractive to learn more and more why it is important for humans to save humans, why their flaws are important, and see the journey.
soul hacker 2 screen
Even with the knowledge that Soul Hackers 2 and its predecessor are barely connected, it’s worth mentioning the shift in tone between them. While the original was dark and grungy, the sequel is bright and glamorous, exploring bustling locations in Japan to shop, upgrade weapons, and complete requests. It feels like it wants to change to a new light.This updated style brings more flamboyant flair, but doesn’t seem to offer much else. Eerily similar to modern JRPGs, Soul Hackers 2 fails to stand out from the crowd.
The overall plot works as a fairly common “end of the world” scenario. This is a popular trope for both JRPG and Atlas games, but the betting of the opening movie stops most of the urgency and evolution of it. The main focus, however, is party members who are dealing with struggles in their personal lives. Unlike most other Atlus JRPGs, party members who joined us as companions during our nearly 60-hour adventure were pleasantly introduced early on and allowed us to become familiar with them longer. Milady, the passive and passionate assassin of the group stood out to me because of his interesting relationships with some key characters, but the fan favorite is selfish but fighting to reconcile. The adorable detective Saizo is in a relationship with his ex-partner.
Each of them immediately captured my interest with their polarizing perspectives on both the world and the ongoing threat as a whole. Iron Mask’s goal is to collect her five ghostly beings called Covenants. This allows him to summon a being known as “The Great One” to destroy the world. It may sound monotonous, but some true surprises and Iron Mask’s relationship give him more depth than expected (even if the plot hits in a way that doesn’t spoil it). likes to present itself as more intimate among a small group of intriguing characters, but its focus can feel out of place given how big the stakes are from the start. Despite the long playtime, certain subplots aren’t given time to fully flesh out, so some major character moments don’t feel fully earned.
Soul Hackers 2 is more or less split into two parts. Once completed, there is a main Japanese dungeon in which his plot progresses, and an optional datascape for each character in the party, Axis where you can explore his dungeon, the “Soul Matrix”. Completing each Soul Matrix isn’t absolutely necessary, but it does provide some useful new skills and contains the biggest and most important chunks of each character’s backstory. If I hadn’t completed a new floor each time I unlocked it, there would have been some character moments later in the main story that didn’t resonate on the same level.
Each Matrix gains new floors when reaching certain parts of the campaign, but there are some gates that can only be opened once the required Soul Level has been reached for that character. You can increase it by choosing a specific conversation options supported by the party member or drinking with them at a local bar. I realized that by spending extra time with each character and learning more about them through these interactions, I was experiencing a deeper, deeper connection with my party members.
Your party is made up of demon summoners, people who contract with demons to gain abilities. When exploring a dungeon, the demons that made up my team would put themselves in different locations while I searched my way. Whenever I talked to them, I was given a lot of rewards, including upgrade materials, items, healing, and the ability to recruit new devils. Finding these conversations always made me feel rewarded. With each new demon joining my team, each one had its own unique personality that added to its appeal.
However, the dungeon itself left a lot to be desired. Every level was overwhelming to explore. This is what Atlus knows very well what other JRPGs can do. Levels either contained no puzzles at all, or if they did, they felt more like a distraction to slow my pace rather than an engaging and satisfying challenge I wanted to overcome. Diversity has also stagnated. There are several dungeons that take place in similar subway locations, and a visually identical Soul Matrix once you descend to a new floor.
If you have played Persona games and Tokyo Mirage Sessions, the battle of Soul Hackers 2 is well known, but it has not reached the depth before. Atlus loves experimenting with new combat mechanics that must be mastered to maximize combat effectiveness in every game, and the flavor of Soul Hackers 2 is building stacks of demons. At first, every time you attack the enemy’s weaknesses, a stack is created, and at the end of each turn, all the devils in the stack will run on the Sabbath, which is the total attack of attacking the enemy. It’s a fun mechanic that gets the job done, but it’s consistently unappealing due to the campaign’s lack of growth. When my party members gained summoner skills by advancing through their respective soul matrices, they learned other ways to build stacks, but even with those new additions, I added significantly to my stack count. I have never seen a significant increase.
One of the few unique to Soul Hackers 2 is the Sabbath skill. These abilities can be used to add another effect to your team’s attacks. By going to a local circus, I was able to combine my devil to a more powerful devil, but when I go to a local weapon, I can get the commander’s skills. However, like the stack mechanism, these features were introduced so early that by the time we got to the later sections, they were starting to get old.