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Review: Soul Hackers 2(PS5) - SMT for a Budget

Soul Hackers 2 looks a lot like Shin Megami Tensei or its ever-popular spin-off series Persona. You'll enjoy the turn-based combat and familiar..

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Soul Hackers 2 looks a lot like Shin Megami Tensei or its ever-popular spin-off series Persona. You'll enjoy the turn-based combat and familiar demons, as well as vast dungeons. The story is also quite entertaining, with lots of social interactions and character interactions. Soul Hackers 2 makes this even worse. Although it's a great game, it's not as good as the Atlus classics.

The number two at the title of this game is an entry in a series that only has one instalment from 1990s. This was made for the Nintendo 3DS in 2013. You won't find any Shin Megami Tensei : Devil Summoner : Soul Hackers copies on a GameStop shelf in 2022.

Soul Hackers 2 doesn't require any prior knowledge. You might miss a few minor references, but Soul Hackers 2 is a standalone story which introduces itself as if everyone is new to the IP.



This story focuses on Ringo (or Figue) who were created by AI Aion. This artificial intelligence is meant to watch humanity from afar. However, it must intervene when it realizes that the end is near. The Great One, also known as the Great One, is being summoned. The two must stop it from happening by stopping Covenants-type objects of power from falling into their hands.

Although you begin the journey solo, you will quickly form a group of four people, each with their own unique personalities. The story is character-focused. It explains how the different Devil Summoner factions relate and creates plot twists. Cool character design and compelling motivations make the antagonist a focal point of the plot. Although it is a typical JRPG story, it is unlikely to be remembered.

The story is interesting and keeps the cutscenes engaging. They lack the plot twists and intrigue of Persona 5 or the captivating nature of Shin Megami Tensei. While the story has its moments Soul Hackers 2 isn't as well-written as Atlus' top RPGs, it's clear that they didn't have the same budget. As a result, the story is somewhat stale.



The locations that you can explore beyond dungeons are also important. Shops can be found to find new equipment and items, while side quests can also be completed to earn money and bonus loot, and a bar can help you increase your Soul Level. These shops and attractions are located on extremely narrow streets, which leaves little room for exploration beyond the random townsfolk that you can talk to.

It almost seems like the game recognizes that there is little to no point in the cobblestones out. Once you have found them, you can quickly travel to any store or business. You have little else to do except combat. Your core party members are the only ones you can form any kind of bond with. Even then, their Soul Levels are limited to simple dialogue responses that increase via dialogue.

Soul Hackers 2 is a positive game once you get in a dungeon to fight some demons. Its turn-based combat system is very similar to other Atlus RPGs. It's extremely fun to interact with, stylish, and addictive to a point where you are actively looking for battles. You're likely to be familiar with it if you have played any of the recent games from the developer. However, there is a method that works.



You have the usual assortment of physical and magical attacks available to you. You can also use items to your advantage, blocking in your turn and trying to escape. To win fights, you must exploit the weaknesses of your enemy. This can be done by reading their skills and experimenting. Although not as challenging as Shin Megami Tensei V there are still many difficult encounters, especially boss fights that have unique abilities.

A new mechanic called stacking is something that the game does differently to the rest. After capturing an enemy's Achilles heel you will gain an additional turn. Instead of getting an extra turn, you'll be building stacks that combine to form one powerful attack after all your party members have finished their turns. This gives you the ability to nick stacks from a stronger enemy, even if they do not do any damage, to drain your HP. A high Stacking count can wipe out a whole group of enemies in one hit.

The combat system is more complex than ever and doesn't feel like an rehash or rehash from previous Atlus efforts. Soul Hackers 2 is almost identical from the outside. However, it creates its own corner that rewards aggression and experimentation. Add some enemies who can alter their elemental weaknesses on the fly, and you have a demon force that will keep you on your toes.



The worst part of the JRPG is the dungeons. These are the most boring, dull, and uninspired locations in the JRPG. They have repurposed corridors and hallways that provide a very boring backdrop to the battles. These are not your Persona 5 Palaces. They're just basic shopping centers and shipping areas without any personality.

A few new mechanics are added to the middle of the passageway to give it some complexity. But they only make it more tedious and mind-numbing to wander through the dungeons. They are truly awful. It almost seems like Atlus forgot all about them and just rushed to put together assets. However, this is not the truth. All of them were designed this way from the beginning.

The map that guides you through the dungeons is useless. Despite being quite translucent, its labyrinthine nature scrawls all across the screen and manages get in your way. While dungeon combat can be quite enjoyable, any other activities you do within them are as boring as dishwater.



It's quite an odd contrast really because Soul Hackers 2 keeps the stylish, colourful nature Of Atlus games in its menus, and just about anywhere else besides a dungeon. Even though the streets are small, they are full of activity and positive vibes. The transitions between cutscenes or gameplay are seamless and stylish. And the menus between them are trendy and hip. This game is a great one to play in the right places. The character art is amazing and makes the dialogue pop.

The show's true stars are its background scenes. Visit any of the shops that stock combat supplies, and you will be met with a stylish but flat image along with a quirky shopkeeper. Atlus is a master in the art department and the latest version lives up to its expectations. It will always be a mystery why this trendy approach was not carried into the dungeons.

Conclusion

Soul Hackers 2 is an Atlus JRPG with a few good points. However, it's not the next big thing in Japan. It has a terrible dungeon design, and very little to do other than them. However, the combat system is engaging and the narrative is compelling enough to make it worthwhile. Although Soul Hackers 2 is not the best JRPG out there, it's worth a look.

Fun combat systemNeat stacking mechanicStory has its momentsBeautiful background art and characterGreat animationsAwful design of dungeonsLittle to do in dungeonsVery frustrating map Good710 Atlus provides Scoring Policy Review copy



Soul Hackers 2 Launch Edition (PS5) $59.99Amazon US



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