Developed by Atlus and published by Sega. Soul Hackers 2 is a JRPG and the sequel to the hit Soul Hackers that was released way back in 1997. Its sequel Soul Hackers 2 was released on Xbox One, Series X/S, Playstation 4/5, and PC on the 24th of August 2022.
Soul Hackers 2 – A Time Hacker
It’s crazy to think that the original Soul Hackers was released back in 1997 for the Playstation. Has there ever been a more long-awaited sequel than this? Now being a huge JRPG fan having only played the original once over 20 years ago. It was a bit of a surprise when Soul Hackers 2 was released. But this was an opportunity too good to turn down.
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The story of Soul Hackers 2 sets us off on an adventure to save the world. A highly intelligent super AI has witnessed Earth’s destruction. So they create two AI beings and send them out into the world in the form of human twins to help stop it. You play as the main protagonist Ringo who can Soul Hack a person and see their memories.
She also has the ability to bring people back from the dead which goes against the orders of the powers that be but she does it anyway. On multiple occasions. This tells you a little bit about Ringo’s personality, Ringo is a character who acts first and then asks questions later. She doesn’t take no for an answer and has a witty charm about her. Her twin Figue on the other hand is the polar opposite.
Figue is the kind and considerate one out of the bunch. Always charming and the real brains behind the operation. The other three members that make up your party are just the normal characters you would expect from a JRPG. The story isn’t overly exciting and you can get bored of it after a while, but where it lacks in the story department, it certainly makes up for it in gameplay.
The good old-fashioned turn-based tactical strategy is here and it’s executed perfectly. Just like famous games in the genre before it like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and the Persona franchise. It lures you in with its easy-to-play but hard-to-master appeal. There is so much of the game Persona in there that it’s just borderline copy and paste. Actually, there is even a DLC for it where you can have outfits from some Persona games. So there is a huge influence there.
You pull off the usual attacks and magic attacks, but the fun lies in the demons you find. On your adventures into the city which is very linear by the way. There are some beaten tracks but it’s always easy to get to your destination. Demons are what you collect while wandering around and equipping these demons to give you special advantages in battle. They are also a source of looting as well because they will go out and find items for you.
One thing to keep in mind when playing Soul Hackers 2 is that yes it may be a JRPG and while other games in the same genre make it easy to just spam a lot of the time to defeat enemies. This is different as you have to find an enemy’s weakness to do decent damage. Otherwise, a normal attack barely does any. The special attacks rely on finding an enemy’s weakness and using it against them.
Each time you hit an enemy you gain a chain attack and the more times you hit it with its weakness within your turn then the number of demons you have will do a powerful attack. I feel like the special attacks could be better, especially for a game of this calibre but it isn’t too bad.
Graphics and Audio
Straight away before you start your first game you get the opportunity to choose between higher graphics or better performance. The graphics themself are great. It has the usual anime-style cutscenes and the cyberpunk areas and settings are easy on the eye. Sometimes the flashing lights can be too much, especially on the loading screens for some reason but apart from that. The graphics are what you would expect from Atlus.
I’m pretty sure it would be hard to find a JRPG that doesn’t have an awesome soundtrack and Soul Hackers 2 doesn’t let down The battle screen music, the soft and sombre sounds of the more serious cutscenes. It just nails it perfect and you will never get bored of the title screen music. It instantly gets you in the mood.
Atlus certainly love making games that make you think you’re close to the end only to realise that you’re only about halfway through. Just a normal and casual playthrough will maybe set back around 45 hours. But for the completionists then you’re talking around 100 hours and then there is the DLC with more story and side missions.
To say Soul Hackers 2 is a very linear game you would think that there isn’t really much to offer. But there is so much to do just like the Persona games. Doing side quests, collecting every monster, and even using all the special chain attacks will set you back hours because of the vast amount of demons there are to collect in the game.
It’s a game not to be taken likely so enjoy the ride and try to not burn yourself out too quickly.
My final thought on Soul Hackers 2 is that it was definitely worth the wait for a sequel. You fall in love with the cast instantly and root for them the whole way. While the game has a few snags here and there, you barely notice them. It’s a game to be loved by any JRPG fan and especially of the Persona franchise.
So with all that in mind I feel it would be only fair to give Soul Hackers 2 the Thumb Culture Gold Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.