Soul Hackers 2 is one of the years most unexpected releases with it being a new game in the Devil Summoner subseries of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise that has been dormant for some time now. Fans of the series have awaited a new entry for years so expectations are high. The game was developed by Atlus and released August 26th 2022 for PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One/Series S/X and PC.
The games story plays out in a futuristic Japan in the midst of a war between two opposing factions of Devil Summoners: Yatagarasu and Phantom Society. Aion, a supernatural entity containing all of humanities data, usually has a strict policy of not interfering in humanity foresees this war causing the world to end and sends two agents: Ringo and Figue to stop this happening. The game puts you in the shoes of Ringo and throughout the game she recruits several other Devil Summoners to help save the world.
The games story is fantastically written, particularly in the arcs of the main cast of the game. Each party member has their own backstory and motivations for joining Ringo which makes them all very endearing characters. The main storyline itself is also very interesting and kept me engaged throughout. The tone of the game feels like a middle ground between the bleak stories of mainline SMT titles and the more upbeat tone of the Persona games. Overall, The writing of the game is fantastic, as expected from an Atlus JRPG and has a cast that really grows on you throughout the game.
The gameplay is spit between dungeon crawling and exploring the games futuristic city to take on side quests and prepare for the next dungeon. The dungeons themselves can occasionally feel dated to explore compared to other recent JRPGs with them mostly just being a maze with some theming depending on the location. Despite this, the dungeon crawling can feel great due to the games fantastic combat. The combat of the game is turn based and is very similar to other SMT titles in that it revolves around targeting enemy weaknesses to deal extra damage. This game adds its own twist to this using the Sabbath mechanic where each time you hit a demons weakness, a point is added to a stack. At the end of each turn, each point in the stack is used to do an additional attack. This all makes for a fantastic combat system. Each character also has their own dungeon specific to them called the soul matrix. Progressing through these dungeons unlocks extra abilities for these characters and delves deeper into their backstories.
Each character also has a soul level which represents how close Ringo is to each of the other party members, a high soul level is needed to progress deeper into the soul matrix. The soul level mechanic adds some light social aspects to the game with you hanging out with party members to deepen the relationships between your party which really helps you get attached to the characters through these hangout events. The games side content mostly consists of completing side quests which mostly just task you with killing a set number of demons or a boss but offer good rewards to make them worth your time. Overall, a strong combat system offsets some bland dungeon design to make for a mostly fun gameplay experience.
The game is set in a futuristic cyberpunk Japan and the overworld really shows that. The streets are full of bright neon signs and vibrant colors and the city is a joy to explore despite. The character models are also fantastic and full of personality. Demons also look great with returning demons that haven’t been seen since the franchise made the jump to 3D models. I personally loved the visual style of the game, particularly the cyberpunk aesthetic seen in almost every aspect of the game.
The soundtrack of the game fits the futuristic theming of the game well and helps build the atmosphere in the dungeons and across the overworld. However, while the soundtrack is good, outside of the anime style opening track none of the tracks stood out as exceptional to me. The game also features both Japanese and English voice acting which are both fantastic and the voice actors express the characters well. Overall, the presentation of the game is great with incredibly vibrant visuals and a great setting paired with a solid soundtrack and good voice acting.
Overall, Soul Hackers 2 is a good JRPG with a great story and cast backed up with fantastic combat. However, the game is occasionally hindered by its dungeon design which can feel bland at times. Despite this, I definitely think the game is worth a look for fans of JRPGs.
A solid JRPG with an intriguing story and some great combat hindered by some underwhelming dungeons.