If we associate Atlus with RPGs and especially with JRPGs (Japanese Role Playing Games), it’s primarily because of the Persona series. But Persona is primarily a spin-off, like Better Call Saul is a spin-off of Breaking Bad, or like Minions is a spin-off of Despicable Me, or even Katherine is a spin-off of Persona 4. . Megami Tensei. To learn more, I refer you to the article that talks about it. Because for Soul Hackers 2 things are a bit different and more complicated. It really is a spin-off of a spin-off.
Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner Soul Hackers
In 1995, Atlus released the Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner for the SEGA Saturn. Even if a North American localization is planned, it won’t see the light of day and the Japanese RPG won’t be released outside of Japan (not even when it was re-released on the PSP in 2005). It’s an RPG in the vein of Shin Megami Tensei and especially Shin Megami Tensei If… (the game that will give birth to Persona), except that the inspiration and setting this time are taken from novels about private detectives and specifically Raymond Chandler. Therefore, the atmosphere is not much brighter than the serial apocalypses of the main saga.
The hero, a high school student, reincarnated into the body of a detective named Kuzunoha (a name that is often found among detectives in the series), and others are able to summon demons (so they are demon summoners) to fight alongside them. Also, just like in the main series, you can talk to the demons to encourage them to join the team, give us money or items. It is the relative success of Atlus that keeps the company moving forward.
Fast forward to 1997, after releasing the first Persona, Atlus released Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner Soul Hackers back on the SEGA Saturn (then on the PlayStation in 1999). Adventure always takes place in a modern setting, but this time it gives pride of place to computers and virtual worlds. I have to say that it takes pride of place, because the video game novel Shin Megami Tensei has already talked about demons that manipulate people and invade reality from computers. One way or another, the hero and his friends are novice hackers and invest in an online platform in beta testing (which resembles the metaverse). All is well until the demon warns the hero of the impending danger. He then teaches him how to possess the bodies of people who have just died, channeling his soul into solving unfinished business.
The first Soul Hackers game will eventually receive an international localization on the Nintendo 3DS in 2012, but its sales remain confidential. Indeed, this is primarily a port of the 1997 game. The subjective eye remains for dungeon crawling, like the previous game and the first Persona, but the industry has evolved since then, and we’ve got Persona 3 and Persona 4 from the same developer. The green light given to Soul Hackers 2 and its release is all the more amazing.
Finally, Devil Summoner will know two antepisodes (prequels) on PlayStation 2: Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. Soulless Army and Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon, whose game system has completely changed and whose story takes place in 1930s Japan, both games lean more towards RPG. The hero, another Kuzunoha, can summon up to two AI-controlled demons to fight alongside him, similar to Castlevania: Curse of Darkness.
Soul Hackers 2
The first thing we notice about Soul Hackers 2 is that he loses all connection with his origins, at least outwardly. No mention of Shin Megami Tensei (as in Persona 5) and even less of Devil Summoner. However, there is a kinship: the type of weapon that the hero wields is the same as in Soul Hackers, and the summoning of demons is always present, it is even the heart of the game. Society and Yatagarasu, two groups of Devil Summoners who have been fighting each other for a long time.
This new adventure begins when an entity gives life to two humanoid robots to prevent an apocalypse on Earth. The one we control, Ringo (meaning “apple” in Japanese), must find the young man before he dies. Unfortunately, she arrives too late and finds him in a pool of blood with a bullet between his eyes. But she moves on to the soul hacking phase and brings him back to life so that together they can complete this mission. As agreed, the script does not break three legs of a duck, even if it remains interesting.
Onion gameplay in Soul Hackers 2
The most interesting thing about Soul Hackers 2 is its gameplay, which is inspired both by the distant past, connecting this game with the previous part, and adopting elements that made recent Persona or Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE successful. . The producer/director duo are indeed from this Wii U/Nintendo Switch project.
On the one hand, everything is finally third-person, from combat to dungeon crawling and luckily. Even if first-person and 2D is very retro (and sometimes trendy), it’s best to avoid it on new and current generation consoles, especially if you’re looking to make decent sales. In any case, the Atlus developers have made the right choice and have the right ideas for Soul Hackers 2, especially in regards to collisions.
Dynamic battles for Soul Hackers 2
If the combat in Soul Hackers 2 seems a bit traditional, it has the merit of having evolved over 25 years, and not just graphically. Encounters in this JRPG are not random and happen step by step.
During the player’s turn, they can activate an attack or summon a demon to use elemental spells. The presence of elements here plays the same role as in Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne, as well as in Persona 3 and subsequent parts. That is, if we take advantage of the enemy’s elemental weaknesses (an ice spell on a fire creature), the latter will be destabilized, and we will be able to inflict another attack on him. When all enemies are down, then you can activate the Sabbat, the equivalent of the all-out attack in Persona 3, 4 and 5.
Thus, the fights are especially dynamic, which should not upset us. Yet we’ve only scratched the surface. It is a rich system that hides many secrets.
Technical aspects of Soul Hackers 2
As mentioned above, we are now in third person mode throughout the game, and this was done quite easily for the developers. Why? The answer can be summarized in one word: unity. Indeed, the Japanese developers made a wise decision and came up with the brilliant idea of using an existing engine and modifying it to their liking. Instead of developing an in-house engine, which is the most expensive part of development (ask Square Enix and Konami), a third-party engine has been favored.
I will allow myself a slight digression, because this choice fascinates me in the highest degree. As a fan of Japanese games, I was saddened to see the Japanese industry rapidly collapsing before the PS3/Xbox 360 generation. XIII, Star Ocean The Last Hope or Bayonetta and Vanquish, many games were delayed or completely changed due to their engine. . It’s not for nothing that we waited almost 10 years before Persona 5 arrived. But let’s recap.
Using a third party engine like Unity has allowed the developers to focus on the game and it shows. Unity has a reputation for being very malleable, and you can see it at a glance! If it wasn’t for the launch logo, one would think it’s an engine built from scratch, such a uniquely beautiful art direction.
Then, even if I love Shoji Meguro, the permanent composer of Persona since the third, it’s nice to change a bit. Atlus teamed up with a third party for this game. But the music was not given to just anyone. Monaca took care of that. It’s a production studio founded in 2004 by none other than Keiichi Okabe, the brilliant composer of Square Enix’s NieR series.
Anyway, if you like well-designed JRPGs, don’t miss Soul Hackers 2, you won’t regret it. Maybe even if you like it, you can try the first one, which works fine in the Windows version of Citra (not yet tried out on Steam Deck, by the way).
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Benefits of Soul Hackers 2
- Art direction
- Dynamic battles
- Rationale for Supernatural Powers
- Mysterious Digital Entity
- Demon Capture
- Original Adventure, Dark Adventure, and Pleasant Adventure
- Sound environment
– Soul Hackers 2
- Dungeon labyrinths and a little long
- Tasteless side quests