Soul Hackers 2 review for PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC

Platform: PS5
Also On: Xbox Series X, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Atlus
Medium: Disc/Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

While Atlus? Shin Megami Tensei and Persona series have continued to grow in popularity here in the West, I don?t know of many people who were really clamoring for a new Devil Summoner game. In part, I assume, because the last actual sequel was released on PS2 back in 2006, and the last port was of the original game which made its way over to the 3DS back in 2013. So it?s been 9 years since Devil Summoner made any appearance, until the recent release of this title, Soul Hackers 2, which just launched on PS4, PS5, Xbox platforms, and PC.

While not the most innovative of the Shin Megami RPG spin-offs, Soul Hackers 2 is an enjoyable, lengthy, amalgamation of what you?d expect out of these games at this point. Which is basically exploring increasingly complex dungeons, collecting demon companions, and exploiting elemental weaknesses to trigger additional bonus damage. If you?ve played a recent Persona game, Shin Megami Tensei V, or even Nocturne HD, then you?ll probably be right at home with Soul Hackers 2. It doesn?t necessarily specialize in any one thing, but sort of brings in elements from the Shin Megami series as a whole that work pretty well throughout. 

One small thing that does sort of make Soul Hackers 2 stand out is the inclusion of a named, voiced protagonist in the form of Ringo. This is a bit of departure from the standard, silent unnamed protagonist typically featured in the SMT series and spin-offs. And while Ringo is clearly the lead here, she?ll also be accompanied by a handful of other characters that will make up your core dungeon-crawling team, along with additional support characters along the way. The VO work and the story/dialogue, in general, are solid in English, with no one character standing out as particularly great or awful here.  

As far as gameplay goes, you?ll control Ringo on the field when exploring dungeons, which either come along as the story progresses, or you can explore the ever-expanding Soul Matrix, which is a fixed map location that opens up additional levels as you increase your Soul Levels with your party members. The Soul Level number goes up for each party member based on the occasional multi-choice responses that pop up in dialogue, and you?ll find it beneficial to bump up everyone?s soul level as equally as possible since much of your Soul Matrix exploration will still be walled off by story progression at various points. You can also increase Soul Levels by the occasional option to ?hang out? with your party members at the bar, which is the light social element that Soul Hackers 2 employs. This isn?t nearly as complex as what you?d find in the Persona series, and instead just involves a short 1 on 1 or 2 on 1 convo with your party members to unveil a little background info. 

Combat is engaged by bumping into enemies that will spawn inside the dungeons, taking the shape of digitized, bi-pedal creatures that will dash at you when spotted. You can opt to knock them down with a swipe of your weapon before engaging them, allowing you to trigger the first hit before the battle. Once in a fight, your team will take turns using basic attacks, magic, items, or a guard function before all the enemies do, and the big emphasis is on your attacks to exploit enemy weaknesses in order to build up your stack. Once you?ve successfully added numbers to the stack, at the end of your team?s turn you?ll trigger a bonus attack called a Sabbath, which employs the demons from your current roster to perform additional damage. Some demons will even have special Sabbath abilities, like a party heal or the ability to cast sleep on all enemies, which can be remarkably useful when used. It?s a system that is very familiar for the Shin Megami series as a whole, but it?s also one of the more satisfying RPG battle systems out there, so I can?t honestly fault them for not switching it up a whole lot here. 

And honestly, that?s how I feel about Soul Hackers 2 as a whole. It feels like a comfort food RPG for Shin Megami fans, one that you?ll likely enjoy while waiting for the next big thing, but not one that?s going to come close to dominating that #1 RPG spot on most lists for the year. It doesn?t take a lot of chances, and instead just tends to lean into the elements that people already enjoy from other Shin Megami games. As such, it?s not going to really bump the Devil Summoner subseries to new heights, and I suspect it?ll be a while before we see another entry in this particular series, but overall Soul Hackers 2 is a solid bit of fun, and easy to suggest to anyone that has any sort of affinity for these games. 

Note: Atlus provided us with a Soul Hackers 2 PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: B+