Soul Hackers 2 review: stylish JRPG tells greater than it shows

Soul Hackers 2

MSRP $59.99

“Soul Hackers 2 innovates with regards to RPG gameplay, but its story is a step down in comparison with Atlus’ recent hits.”


  • Innovates on SMT formula
  • Satisfying turn economy and strategy
  • Easy to recruit demons
  • Progression makes battles worthwhile


  • Story moves too fast
  • Superficial hangout interactions
  • Emotional beats fall flat
  • Forgettable sideuests

I discovered my third dead body about five hours into Soul Hackers 2. After 30 hours, I’ll discover that corpses and plot twists are nothing to be surprised about.

Aion, the supercomputer version of God, foresees the tip of the world. It creates Ringo and Figue, two humanoid representations of its consciousness, to stop this impending apocalypse. Unfortunately, they arrive too late to avoid wasting their targets: genius scientist Ichiro Ondo and demon summoner Arrow. That’s where the sport’s titular Soul Hacking is available in. Bring back the soul and apparently the body revives with it. Ringo finally ends up reviving three individuals who comply with fight together for the sake of their very own goals. Who’ll really win ultimately, though?

Soul Hackers 2 looks like it has every little thing it must succeed as a JRPG crammed with sci-fi intrigue. Nonetheless, it speeds past the stakes and character arcs in service of an anticlimactic race to the finish. Thankfully, its finely crafted turn-based combat and progression make an otherwise stale story easy to digest.

Same but different formula

Ringo with combat menu

Like other Atlus JRPGs, Soul Hackers 2 duplicates the Shin Megami Tensei formula while meaningfully constructing on it. Recruit demons, fight with them, and fuse them into stronger allies. Once in battle, players must fastidiously use type benefits and switch economy to wipe enemies out as quickly as possible or survive a brutal battle. One misstep will be the difference between getting bodied by a full team of demons or knocking all of them out with a multi-hit ending move.

Soul Hackers 2 has a knack for making every motion feel prefer it’s price something.

Soul Hackers 2 uses this same formula to an extent with notable iteration. It brings back the Shin Megami Tensei mechanic where the demons will be fused together to create ones with higher stats in comparison with ones pulled straight from the Compendium. It also enables you to level up at an inexpensive pace so that you simply don’t must grind ceaselessly, with enough recent abilities and demons to maintain you moving forward.

One other perk? Fighting demons helps you level up and collect drops for trading. You may meaningfully upgrade your COMP with stat boosts and passive perks (aka your weapons) using enemy drops or items your demons find from exploring. Some drops are also meant to be traded for healing items and powerups, so resource collecting is a highly rewarding experience with multiple purposes.

Soul Hackers 2 has a knack for making every motion feel prefer it’s price something. Shin Megami Tensei spinoffs typically involve exploiting enemy weaknesses to appeal to the turn economy. On this case, you gain “Stacks” every time you hit an enemy weakness. Ringo releases these stacks in a “Sabbath” at the tip of every turn for added damage. Some demons even have their very own “bonuses” that activate during these Sabbaths. One might poison all enemies, while one other may grant the party a little bit of health. It’s easy to stack the turns in your favor, as in case you’re doing the RPG equivalent of couponing, and have a consistently satisfying time constructing out the proper party composition.

Now, if only the story impressed me as much because the gameplay.

More showing, less telling

Soul Hackers team fight

My English professors used to emphasize “show not tell.” Unfortunately, Soul Hackers 2 does a number of telling and never much showing. I stand by my preview, where I wrote that the story quickly lost its shock value after the primary three deaths. I get it. Aion beings can bring people back to life with soul-hacking superpowers and everybody has an issue with their ex.

Soul Hackers 2 moves fast. It dives into the memories and regrets of Arrow, Milady, and Saizo early within the plot. To some extent, Soul Hackers 2 tells the story of three Demon Summoners who got here back to life to handle their regrets and save the world. It doesn’t meaningfully weave the threads together, though. The three heroes convincingly react to their nemeses eventually, however the buildup to that moment is missing. In actual fact, a few of their motives are hidden behind plot twists later within the story. The explanations for keeping these intimate moments outside of the fundamental plot make sense in context, but which means that you simply’ll should be in for the long haul as you wade through lackluster plot and character development.

I at all times felt like a bystander slightly than someone who was within the moment myself.

A few of it could even be as a result of having Ringo because the protagonist. To be clear, I like Ringo as a hero. Her spunk and humorousness carried otherwise stale conversations. Nonetheless, she’s also essentially a newborn.

Soul Hackers 2 tackles what it means to be human and what Ringo and Figue learn from their passionate allies. Ringo because the protagonist just seems like a waste when Arrow, Milady, and Saizo have such complex backstories that we only feel within the third person. I at all times felt like a bystander slightly than someone who was within the moment myself.

A technical afterthought

Saizo with Soul Hackers allies

Soul Hackers 2 paces its combat perfectly, even when it moves too fast to savor the story. Nonetheless, there are other moving parts that would have used some work.

Areas just like the Axis and Club Courteous offer sidequests to meet, but they’re never anything greater than fetch quests, which feel like a waste of time. A few of them have priceless items that make it price it, but more often than not, it’s easier to pretend they don’t exist. I also found it easy to disregard the Soul Matrix, which the sport reminds you to go to every other time you visit the Safehouse. Exploring it’s going to give your party members priceless passive perks the more you raise your social bond with them, but you’ll should return to a bland, repetitive dungeon time and again to accomplish that.

Many of the controls work high-quality enough, but there are some quirks that bugged me. It’s a little bit of a hassle to regulate the camera while running, and it tends to follow Ringo just a little too closely. I also noticed a lag with Ringo’s slash, an attack that will be used while exploring to stun enemies before a random encounter. You’ll sometimes get caught in battle even in case you technically “hit” the enemy because the game registers that you simply’ve walked into them and initiates the fight. I discovered myself having to time my slash early to make it hit after I wanted, which made gameplay feel just a little unnatural at times.

These aren’t deal-breakers in comparison with the larger picture. Nonetheless, they begin so as to add up when the one positives are the gameplay and progression.

Our take

Soul Hackers 2 is just like the middle sibling of the Shin Megami Tensei family. It doesn’t have the dark fantasy legacy of the series its spun off from or the identical highschool hijinks because the Persona series. As an alternative, it’s a superbly fun, if inoffensive comeback game for a long-dormant IP. Nonetheless, it doesn’t feel prefer it’ll have the identical endurance as a few of Atlus’ recent hits. Its emotional moments didn’t land as hard due to a lacking narrative that tells greater than it shows. It innovates on some parts of the SMT formula with strong RPG systems and progression, nevertheless it isn’t enough to make it one other must-play.

Is there a greater alternative?

Persona 5 Royal is a lengthier and more entertaining game with similar RPG systems. If you happen to’ve already played that, there’s also Persona 4, Shin Megami Tensei 5, or the recently remastered Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne. They’ll scratch the itch for a compelling story higher.

How long will it take?

Soul Hackers 2 is comparatively short in comparison with Atlus’ other works. It took me between 30 and 40 hours to complete.

Do you have to buy it?

Yes. It’s a soft advice for Shin Megami Tensei fans, though If you happen to’re recent to Atlus games, it’s not an incredible start line.

Soul Hackers 2 was reviewed on a PlayStation 4.

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