Soul Hackers 2’s announcement was a curveball for veteran fans and newcomers alike. The previous title wasn’t exactly one of the more widely-known Megami Tensei entries, so the prospect of a new sequel, especially on most modern platforms, came as a genuine surprise following the release of Shin Megami Tensei V.
I don’t believe many prospective players quite know what to expect from its release later this month. However, after spending extensive time with Soul Hackers 2, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite Atlus games and turn-based JRPGs ever made.
Soul Hackers 2 follows two humanoid representations born from the technological marvel known as Aion; Ringo and Figue. Further, a speakable portion of Aion, Flamma, was explicitly made to pass down its mission to these newly created agents. Their task comprises averting the world’s destruction foreseen by Aion’s unmatched prowess.
Still, while such a feat may seem elementary for such a masterclass system, matters are truthfully more complicated than one would initially assume. Ringo and Figue must save the lives of two individuals whose anticipated deaths seemingly initiate the chain reaction causing the world’s end. And, of course, several unforeseen developments make this mission direr by the second.
The party members, Arrow, Milady, and Saizo, rapidly join as their goals become interlinked with Ringo’s and Figue’s objectives. Firstly, it’s paramount to note that no previous game knowledge is required to understand this narrative’s intricacies. As of the time of this writing, I have entered the final dungeon, and I can confirm that the story here is standalone.
And, speaking of the story, it’s a genuine, unexpected highlight. The primary cast is written extraordinarily well, and while it’s admittedly soon to finalize my assessments, they are certainly in the running for being my favorite characters throughout Atlus’ extensive catalog. Their various dynamics and inherently differing perspectives on life provide intensely compelling banter. Moreover, Ringo, essentially the haphazard group’s leader, is a fascinating mediator and companion whose non-silent nature legitimately propels the writing and charm to praiseworthy, supreme heights.
Regarding gameplay, Soul Hackers 2 has an addictively satisfying loop where one explores dungeons, upgrades gear, fuses demons, and performs several side activities. Demon interaction is also particularly inviting, especially for those like me who aren’t fans of how negotiation is typically handled throughout Shin Megami Tensei. Rather than having to converse with demons mid-battle, fulfilling their demands, and simply hoping that random chance doesn’t screw you over, Soul Hackers 2 takes a far more gratifying approach.
In dungeons, the party’s demons automatically initiate reconnaissance and can be found while exploring. Allied demons can expectedly offer items and currency, though one of their most significant results is bringing in demons Ringo can potentially get to join the team. Thankfully, unless I’ve somehow been exceedingly lucky for 50+ hours, demons are guaranteed to join the party as long as you fulfill their demands.
There is no meaningless random chance incorporation that also serves to lessen the supposed individuality of demons like in previous titles, so this is hands-down my favorite methodology to obtain these creatures. I had never derived such enthused enjoyment from acquiring demons before this entry. RNG is well-implemented in that the only luck-infused factor consists of encountering a demon via recon, rather than also having to hope that they don’t needlessly rob you of resources and run away.
In essence, improvements have been made so that, unlike other games, demons don’t come off as being one collective entity primarily meant to evoke troll-like irritation in the realm of their negotiation-based acquisitions. The sole, primary obstacle preventing me from wholeheartedly enjoying other Megami Tensei titles tends to lie in how demon negotiation never feels rewarding since there is no fairness in how demons can just away on a whim even after items, health, magic, and currency are spent. I am indescribably delighted that Soul Hackers 2 throws all of that out the window.
It’s a legitimate game changer that constantly instills the desire to complete my Compendium because no meaningless stressors are inhibiting me. I know I’ve spent a great deal of time on this topic, but I truly can’t overstate the genuine joy-filled investment this game’s demon procurement has made me feel, that I wish other Megami Tensei entries did. Conversation is not crafted as an illusion to provide false choice that actively acts as a demotivator. Admittedly, I do have a few minor, non-gameplay critiques regarding demon acquisition, but I’ll save those for the full review.
There are countless other facets to discuss regarding Soul Hackers 2, such as its stellar English dub, configuration options, and heaps of content, but I’ll have to save those for when the review embargo lifts. Honestly, I truly can’t wait to talk about this game more since, without revealing specifics, Soul Hackers 2 is a gem that I’m fearing may be overlooked by the general crowd and even franchise fans. Above all else, it boasts some of the best writing I’ve ever seen in a JRPG, so I’m hoping it receives deserved attention and acclaim.
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