“Soul Hackers 2” in the test: JRPG for fans of science fiction and “Persona”

I had already reported about the game “Soul Hackers 2” in the blog. It is a JRPG by Atlus, which, like the “Persona” series, is a spin-off of the “Shin Megami Tensei” series. Its predecessor, Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, was originally released 1440 in Japan for the Sega Saturn. In this country, this title appeared for the first time 1440 as a port for the Nintendo 3DS. Luckily, you don’t have to know the debut to enjoy the sequel.

“Soul Hackers 2” takes a similar approach Notch like my beloved JRPG series Persona. The new title also mixes role-playing games, visual novels and a touch of life simulation. But the high school setting is exchanged for a cyberpunk world with slight fantasy elements. On the one hand, topics such as artificial intelligence, cyberspace and state-of-the-art weapons play a role, on the other hand there are demon summoners and magic spells.

Soul Hackers 2 (PlayStation 5)

Soul Hackers 2 (PlayStation 5)

    Explore the approaching end of the world as Ringo, an agent of the AI ​​Aion, and take on the quest to save humanity before the apocalypse …

    Plunge into a supernatural JRPG, with stylish demon summoners and dark dangers under the neon lights of a grim…

The plot is quite intricate and twists at the core about the artificial intelligence Aion, which foresees the impending apocalypse. To prevent them, she splits off two representations of herself in physical form: Ringo and Figue. You take on the role of Ringo whose task is to prevent the deaths of several people who are key figures to avert the end of the world. One of her skills is soul hacking: she can use it to bring the dead back to life. But that has its price, because it mentally connects Ringo with those people.

This trick is not only used to philosophize about what happens when two different people or their psyches grow close together abruptly, but it is also a gameplay element. So the other team members like the summoner Arrow have mental problems. Helping them solve the problem and using social events like hanging out at a bar to build mutual understanding will empower both sides. In this context, you also fight your way through a dungeon in which each team member has their own section. The deeper you go, the more powerful you and the rest of the party can become. Anyone who has played “Persona 5” will basically find a modified version of Mementos here.

In general, however, there is more freedom and more side tasks in “Soul Hackers 2”: Many of them are Fetch quests, other nice little stories. This doesn’t come close to the “Yakuza” games, but gives you the chance to get new items and strengthen your party so that you don’t bite on granite in the main quest. Similar to “Persona 5”, you can add new demons to your collection in the dungeons and also fuse them after the first few hours of play to get even more powerful beings as companions.

Equip yourself you your characters with the demons, they take on their strengths and weaknesses: A snowman can maltreat opponents with ice magic, but is weak against fire – and so on. Different demons dwell in each dungeon and so you quickly develop the desire to get hold of, combine and strengthen as many of the monsters as possible. The right equipment with these beings can decide between victory and defeat, especially in boss fights.

“Soul Hackers 2” does not offer an open world, but smaller areas that you control separately via a map of the city – similar to “Persona 5”. This time, however, no days are counted down in the calendar. Despite the upcoming apocalypse, this sometimes creates a rather playful atmosphere, for example when you deliver love letters for a bouncer or Ringo and Co. eat meals together in their accommodation to discuss their stat boosts.

The screenshots and videos already show you that “Soul Hackers 2” fully embraces its anime aesthetics. Accordingly, the developers often mix in a good dose of humor. The events never get too dreary, despite some dark and surprisingly gory elements. I played this game on the PlayStation 5, which offers two modes: In resolution mode, the game runs in 4K with 30 fps. Performance mode pulls out 60 fps, lowers the resolution but noticeably – I would type on dynamic 1440p. So here you have the choice of whether image quality or a high frame rate is important to you.

Other than that, the graphics are more typical for PS4 games and are clearly rooted in the last generation of consoles. The environments are quite poor in detail and the enemies aren’t exactly overflowing with polygons either. The art design is very coherent. In addition, the soundtrack is outstanding and mixes orchestral sounds, electro beats and fiery rock. The English-language dubbing is also on a very high level and is consistently very emotional and fitting. There are no German speakers, but you can switch on German subtitles.

Soul Hackers 2 (Xbox One / Xbox Series X)

You know it from Atlus: You can spend several hours with “Soul Hackers 2”, depending on how deep you are into the side stories, the collecting of different monsters and co. The extensive equipment options with which you can equip your characters, depending on which values ​​you find particularly important, are also “old school”.

I almost withheld it: The Battles are turn-based, just like Persona 5. So there is no fast action, rather you have to explore the opponent’s weaknesses and tactically coordinate attacks, buffs and de-buffs as well as defense and the use of items. I still like this type of JRPG, but that might put off impatient people.

Similar to the series “Persona” mentioned here over and over again, “Soul Hackers 2” is more than the sum of it parts. The exciting but also playful story, the lovable characters and the gameplay with depth as well as the driving soundtrack ensure that this title feels like a cyberpunk anime to play along. By the way, the Japanese are not very interested in Western, political correctness and would not really fit into this science fiction and fantasy world. So this can also be a refreshing escape from reality.

My tip: If you are interested in anime or JRPGs, especially if you also love the “Persona” series, then you should definitely check out “Soul Hackers 2”. The thoroughly Japanese game is a lot of fun for me and with some philosophical approaches and plot twists it even makes you think from time to time. Soul Hackers 2 will be released on 02. August 2022 for the PS4 and PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S and for the PC.

Soul Hackers 2 (Xbox One / Xbox Series X)

Soul Hackers 2 (Xbox One / Xbox Series X)

    Explore the approaching end of the world as Ringo, an agent of the AI ​​Aion, and take on the quest to save humanity before the apocalypse …

    Plunge into a supernatural JRPG, with stylish demon summoners and dark dangers under the neon lights of a grim…

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