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soul hackers 2 | Overview – Famous Ingredients, Different Taste

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The Atlus-Sega combo is a panacea for JRPG fans, given how many niche titles it has brought to the West. This time it’s the turn Soul Hackers 2a sequel to one of the franchise’s many spin-off series. Shin Megami Tensei and also (in) a direct sequel to a cult product released twenty-five years ago (and on the Sega Saturn too!).

Soul Hackers 2

Platform:
PC, PS4, PS5, XONE, XSX
Genre:
Role-playing game
Release date:
August 26, 2022
Developer:
Atlus
Distributor:
SAW

Thus, the curiosity was not only legitimate, but also natural, given that the original title brought mature content and a peculiar alliance between cyberpunk and spiritualism to the scene, elements that we find intact in the second chapter.

We spent several dozen hours for you in the company of the PS5 version (you can find it on amazon): you just have to keep reading our review to find out if we liked the game and how much.

The end is the beginning, this is the end

Halfway between the cyberpunk trend that also characterized the progenitor and the mystique typical of Atlus products, plot from Soul Hackers 2 revolves around the imminent end of the world – a world not too different from the present and, therefore, placed in the near future, in which humanity continues to walk, indifferent and arrogant, along the path of the cult of the ego and the most unbridled capitalism.

In this context, seen from the perspective of Japan, two entities with feminine traits were sent to the people by Aion, a sentient and omniscient artificial intelligence that foresaw the fatal events to come.

The goal of the two heroines avoid the death of two specific peopleIchiro Onda and the Arrow, which will unleash an unstoppable chain of events that will lead humanity to extinction at the hands of a dark demon summoner sect, the Phantom Circle, led by the Iron Mask, the game’s main villain, that oscillates between good characterization and some banality.

Yes, it’s Pazuzu, in case you’re wondering.

Without going into too much detail and without spoiling the surprise of the story, which does not skimp on some thoughtful twists, we can say that we were more than satisfied with the writing and, above all, with the characterization of the cast. characters, including, in our opinion, the diabolical Saizo.

It will be the freedom gained from the adult life of the main characters, which allowed to solve sometimes sensitive issues, it will be the usual sense of impending danger that characterizes most of the products of the Japanese software house, but the plot Soul Hackers 2despite some specks all too typical of some Rising Sun productions, he succeeds to be followed with interest until the final stageswhen the climax gets too hasty for our liking.

We are not on the side of the best Atlus products, as well as other aspects of the game, as we will see in the following paragraphs; however, compared to today’s average productions, narrative fabric Soul Hackers 2 manages to appear.

With a good adaptation in Italian, the events take place throughout most of the adventure, motivating the player to encounter another dungeon too similar to the previous one to find out how the relationships between the characters and the clash between them develop. the aforementioned Circle of Ghosts and the Yatagarasu, an organization that opposes it and of which some members of our group are a part.

I almost forgot to emphasize that, despite the number two in the title, Soul Hackers 2 is quite usable all those (and we assume that they are the majority) who they never played the progenitorserving as more of a soft reboot of the series than a true sequel – an understandable move given the length of the hiatus between this installment and the previous one.

The design of the chara is Japanese to the core, but we still really liked it.

A combat system that will never go out of style

Let’s remove the rotten tooth immediately: Atlus’ biggest production problem is flatness of the underground structureeven more obvious if you compare the mazes to those of the original game and its 3DS representation a few years ago: shortcuts, traps, crates that only allowed you to progress in one direction, and secret rooms, of which there were many. in this title they remain alone a distant and pale memoryalternating with flat and monochromatic corridors, here and there alternating slightly more inspired areas.

Much more could be done from this point of view, and dungeon exploration would be of great benefit: given that cities remain places where you can only go to refresh yourself and stock up on useful items in combat and during any optional missions, then the same it. It is in the dungeons that the vast majority of the gameplay sections take place, which, as such, should have been better organized.

Instead, the burden of saving the hut falls on the shoulders of combat system – which, fortunately, is not inferior even in its ultimate classicism: if the basics are those that everyone knows, with a combat system in turn pure, in which the protagonists are summonable and melting demons more than our four characters lined up, clashes in Soul Hackers 2 they offer too little new to be considered one of the most successful in Atlus’ 30+ year career.

The cornerstones of the combat system are those that fans of the Japanese developer’s products are accustomed to: recruitable demonswhich can be combined and deployed in combat with their unique set of skills, weaknesses of the enemywhich mark the course of battle and upon which their victories are built, and Tregenda attacksthe only notable addition that Soul Hackers 2 brings as a dowry.

These are group attacks that are activated when, after discovering an enemy’s weakness, it is used in all possible turns, as a result of which the enemy group inflicts numerous damage: very useful both for completing the simplest encounters in a short time, and as for using the most difficult ones, these attacks must be mastered in the shortest time, which is one of the cornerstones to better resist dungeons Soul Hackers 2.

As in other times, this it’s hard to make a real critique of the combat system created by Atlus: fans of semi-real time systems may turn up their noses a little, but the balance achieved after three decades of experimentation between customizable equipment, demons to deploy, and unique abilities of party characters is still unbreakable, and this is the main reason why we advise you to give it a try Soul Hackers 2 represented by the flow of battles and their depth, as well as an excellent level of gameplay customization.

A tip to fully enjoy it as usual and if you’re not new to the genre is to turn up the difficulty level to make some of the boss fights really memorable, well thought out and challenging, but never disappointing.

The general impression, which came down to the end credits, is that Atlus for once reinsuredstealing the (excellent) ideas from their most successful games of recent years to breathe new life into a franchise that has been dormant for almost a quarter of a century and which, despite this, we hope to see again soon on the screens connected to our consoles, perhaps with additional original inspiration .

And notice there is nothing wrong with this approach – especially considering the affordable budget, certainly not exorbitant, and the brand’s appeal, limited only to fans of the first hour of the expanded universe Shin Megami Tensei (or, like this author, to those who already played video games in 1997), so much so that the vote at the bottom of this review is generally and deservedly positive, and that forty lean hours the expenses in the company of Ringo, Figo and company were very pleasant.

Except that Atlus has raised the bar significantly in recent years, giving us masterpieces in caliber Persona 5 Royal As well as Shin Megami Tensei Vand inevitably increasing expectations towards it, so much so that an excellent JRPG like Soul Hackers 2 this is ultimately perceived as a “minor” title.

But what hairdresser do the protagonists of some JRPGs go to?!?

Briefly and concisely

The game runs on a modified version of the engine Unitywith all that it entails in terms of performance and graphics: excellent Art direction (including manga artists of the caliber of Shiro Mina, among others) manages to mask the paucity of environments that can actually be explored, as much as skillful use of a palette of bright and acid colors can overshadow some faded textures. as well as a compulsive overhaul of secondary NPC models.

On the other hand, the flatness of the dungeons, which goes hand in hand with their disappointing design, which we already talked about in the previous paragraph, clashes with the abundance of demons available and the excellent modeling of all the dungeons. main characters, including antagonists.

We didn’t encounter any issues with the PS5 version we tested, neither in terms of performance (complete with selector for 60fps mode), nor in terms of bugs or code issues: the product is relatively low-budget, but attention to detail it’s the same as many other more famous Atlus games.

The exploration is rather limited, but the few areas present are well defined.

Let’s also spend a few words on the overall running time, which is significantly shorter than many of its brethren, as well as many previous Atlus products: whether due to precise selection or lack of additional funds, the development team has perfectly adapted the rhythms of the game and storytelling for the poor forty hours it takes to complete the game (while enjoying about three-quarters of the extra content).

This means that dialogue between characters is less redundant and slower than in many other JRPGs that after three or four hours of play, all the playable characters will be at your disposal. and that, with minor exceptions, the game has no filler and no artifacts to increase its duration.

It may seem short to some purists, but we who have completed the marathon Xenoblade Chronicles 3we had no problem with a more hurried character Soul Hackers 2.

Reviewed Version: PS5