It kinda pains me to write my thoughts about Soul Hackers 2 after completing it. Morbid curiosity got the better of me since my initial impressions into articles and videos weren't strong already. The cel shaded design is cool but the actual details in the designs themselves felt a lot to be desired. I can go on about Soul Hackers 2 feeling different from its predecessors but I never cared about that. All I wanted was the game to be fun. If the game was fun, I can walk away happy in that I had fun with the combat systems and demon customization megaten is known for. Sadly I didn't get that at all and I feel like I wasted my time.
The story felt par for the course here. It was pretty slow at the start and felt alright until one extremely dumb twist that I knew was gonna happen that took me out of the story and completely turn me off to a main character completely. This moment didn't feel warranted or earned at all building off of one specific moment in the story that just took me out of the story to the point I got a bit upset at what happened.
The characters are kinda what save this whole experience for me. Ringo is excellent as the glue that binds everyone together despite their various different ideals. Saizo is excellent it feels like he puts this cool noir front on for everyone when he just wants to get away from it all with his girlfriend. Arrow and Milady are decent too but they didn't really grab me as much as the former two did. The overall chemistry and dynamic works pretty well too despite of all this. Something that kinda bothered me is how played up the cast being adults is in a sense. Several times the cast would mention not to worry about something just because of their age or the notion of developing these bonds relies of drinking alcohol at a bar, something adults only do. Granted you can also eat various meals with them but it's just repeatable dialogue and serves no gameplay purpose in which hanging out at the bar actually does. It doesn't matter that much in hindsight but it kinda comes off that the writers thinking they could write adult characters now since most of their work stems from trying to write japanese high schoolers with a modicum of depth. The villains are kinda laughable sadly as it just comes from a place I've heard a billion times at this point.
My main aggravation with this experience is how you'll spend ninety percent of the game traversing tedious and boring dungeons, partake in run of the mill and bare bones moment to moment megaten combat, extremely lackluster demon fusing and skill variety to customize each tool you have. If can sum up in one sentence why I hate this so much it would be this:
Soul Hackers 2 does not respect your time.
The dungeons are extremely bland in visual and gameplay design that makes everything feel more of a slog to progress through but this is more apparent in the Soul Matrix. The Soul Matrix provides nothing in terms of visual design other than blocks and way too long than it needed to be. As if one wasn't bad enough, you'll have to do three of them if you want to get into the actual mechanics of the game and gather some extremely important field skills to make the whole experience less of a slog. I will say the final dungeon manages to be cool from a visual design perspective and tries to do something different but it fails under my main complaint that it feels too long for the wrong reasons. I don't mind final dungeons being long because that's how it usually is but it doesn't really do anything that exciting other than just running around and trying to avoid enemies. The only constant form of interaction is the demon recon system which lets you get important items, money and items from them. This is also how you "recruit" demons in this game. No demon negotiation is a questionable decision and I can't say I don't miss it here.
All of this in addition to how traversing these dungeons actually work and the whole enemy encounter experience. Ringo moves at a slow jog pace naturally and some of the dungeons are pretty long for almost no reason as it is. Enemy encounters work in that silhouettes will spawn and attack you repeatedly and the only way to avoid encounters is attacking them with your sword. You're going to be doing this a lot and it's going to get old extremely quick especially with Figue delivering the same three lines about an enemy being near and gone. You can get a skill that makes you move faster but it's limited, you have to reapply it and it costs SP too which can be annoying on higher difficulties and Estoma which essentially removes them completely but that requires the tedium of doing the Soul Matrix to unlock.
I can respect them for trying to do something different from Press Turn here and I think the sabbath/stack mechanic is cool for the game throwing groups at you to fight constantly, that alone works well here. Essentially you have four slates to equip a single demon with four to six skill slots each which is less from the traditional eight you see. I feel like this change wanted to make each demon more unique in a sense and more specialized but it kinda doesn't work when the demons have so many skills overlap with each other that it almost doesn't matter. With no punishment in using the wrong move, figuring out the right weakness doesn't have as high stakes as it used to and almost every fight kinda feels like you're doing the same thing. The boss fights are overall pretty cool but they also kinda play out the same way too with a demon protecting the summoner and the summoner always moving twice. It's not exactly bad but it's not exactly that great either. It's alright.
The act of demon fusing is something I should be happy about but it kinda comes in with a whimper instead of letting you orchestrate and create your own team. You technically still can but it comes with a lot of work and extremely expensive compendium prices that it almost deters you from trying as often. While you can technically swap demons in the middle of a battle, you can only reliably do it once per round but I found myself even with this in mind that I rarely had to swap as often since it feels like having your bases covered in weakness help and having weakness never felt that important at least on Normal (played Hard until I got bored of the game). Very Hard sounds a little more interesting with no items relying solely on the demon skills but I don't think I'll be playing this game again.
On a slightly more positive note, I do kinda dig the overall art aesthetic they ended up going for here with the cel shaded demon designs. It fits pretty well with some of the older demon designs and it's cool to see some demons finally hit the high definition realm as well if anything. The actual character designs feel a bit too busy for me at least for the main cast, it's not extremely egregious or anything but it feels like it's too much going on for no reason barring Arrow. Even with my high expectations for Atlus soundtracks, I can come off saying this one is decent. There's like only two dungeon themes barring the final dungeon which got old fast but the battle themes are great especially this one you'll hear in the soul matrix.
Wanted to put my miscellaneous thoughts here such as the side-quest system or requests as they're called being just completely average except a lot of the rewards for them are not great barring the ones from important shopkeepers giving you new stock or upgrades. I feel like there's too many loading screens in town to really get stuff done as it is even with the shortened load times with the removal of loading screen tips. Grinding materials for important comp upgrades is pretty annoying especially for those important Commander skills and passives for Ringo too.
I've played a lot of megaten games at this point and I can always walk away with a mostly positive experience. I can say I'm not too fond of the older games because while the themes, atmosphere and writing are generally better, it tends to suffer from some abysmal, broken or slow gameplay or the combination as such. Modern megaten seems to have gone the opposite way with better gameplay giving up on some of the writing chops they had before in my opinion. Soul Hackers 2 has decent characters, an average story and an incredibly dull gameplay experience that constantly made me wish I was playing a different game if it wasn't for the sunken cost fallacy I had internally at this point. I really had to see this game through and get the full picture. It's not hard to tell that this game doesn't have the budget of Atlus's other efforts and I can almost sympathize with that if it wasn't for the fact this game is being sold for sixty dollars in addition to their egregious DLC practices I don't even want to go into. When you put your game at that pedestal, it's going to receive judgment where that pedestal lies. I can't recommend this game at full price and if you're insistent on trying it which I think you probably should if you're a megaten fan at least to please wait for a good sale.
The only small sliver of a silver thread is that they learn from this game and make something better out of it because I don't want Atlus to give up on making spinoffs again but with how they're developing their games, pricing them and the DLC that feels blatantly cut off from the game at launch but they need a reality and an ego check and go back to the drawing board at this point. They need to do better and they obviously can. It's just a matter if they even will at this point.

Reviewed on Sep 14, 2022


3 Comments


2 months ago

Ion agree with mostly anything you wrote aside from that Saizo take but respect for actually giving it a try. Most of the doomers didn’t even do that.

2 months ago

Yeah not fond of the immediate vitriol for the game despite people not even attempting to play it. Even with my own problems with the game, I can see there's something in here for some people and not a complete trainwreck.

2 months ago

fascinating way of looking at it, will keep in mind when I get further into my playthrough