Soul Hackers 2 is the sequel to the original Soul Hackers that is part of the Devil Summoner spin off series from Shin Megami Tensei.
It is cyberpunk like in Soul Hackers but far from the future type of stuff since it is set in the mid 21st century compared to the 90s depiction of it that would be reminiscent of Serial Experiments Lain. It has a mix of the mystery atmosphere of Devil Summoner plus the cyberpunk edge from Soul Hackers with a touch of the traditional apocalyptic elements from Shin Megami Tensei.
The game focuses on the Devil Summoners conflict against the phantom society that is behind a lot of the events in the series and the cast must stop them from reaching their goals. The pacing is also a lot more straight to the point and the game starts off quite quickly compared to the circles you went around in Persona 5.
I honestly consider Ringo to be the best Shin Megami Tensei character ever written. Her wit and intelligence as well as character development in being more human was honestly a huge highlight of the game for me. I really enjoyed seeing her character interactions with others and they were very fun to watch. Lot of the SMT characters are just silent mcs with little personality but Ringo stands out from the rest even Joker from Persona 5.
Ringo is reserved but she does open up as time goes by as she learns to be human. She is not the first SMT character to have a personality and canon name in the story, but she is certainly the most memorable in a series that isn’t exactly well known for having memorable characters.
Sadly, there aren’t any other side activities like in Persona 5 where you can do stuff like visit arcades or movies with your friends.
The voice acting as well both dub and sub are pretty solid. The game borrows quite a bit of elements from Persona 5 while maintaining its own style.
You don’t have to worry about a time schedule. Bonding with your team members unlock special bonuses the more time you spend with them. You can bond with your teammates at the bar and this is used to help expand the soul matrix, unlocking new areas and you can do it not only by just hanging out in the bar but also by undertaking missions during the soul matrix. You can use your safehouse to rest and have meals with your party members which provides you temporary bonuses while exploring dungeons. You can also take on requests to earn extra cash and rewards.
You can customize and upgrade your comp with the various materials you can get while exploring dungeons and you can send demons in your party to recon to collect items, heal your party and find other demons open to joining you. You can use the materials you find to trade for items like incense to help increase your stats in combat.
The controls are easy to pick up and play. The turned based combat where you can summon your demons to help you fight battles and also negotiate with them on certain conditions to give you something or join your party. All out attacks are there too where you can take down an enemy after exploiting their weakness. There's also a fast forward option to help speed up combat.
The graphics and visuals are really incredible and the art from the dogs bullets and carnage mangaka is really great. I also really enjoyed the music which was one of the best in the entire series.
The game had some flaws. The down loadable content was honestly really bad. I did not purchase it personally but I hear it makes combat easier than it should be because of how broken it was. The dungeon designs, looked pretty much uninteresting to explore especially repetitive, cold and soulless. At least it doesn’t have the annoying random encounters every few minutes like in Nocturne. As you can ambush enemies from behind and deal surprise damage before they notice you. The Soul Matrix was a pretty boring place to explore and I rather they stuck with exploring the abandoned warehouses/factories and office buildings of the past instead. Exploring is required to get the true ending and even more character development which should have been in the main game in the first place.
Mimi, who points out when enemies are nearby can get really annoying with warnings every few seconds but at least Mimi was not like Morgana who constantly told you to go to sleep a lot.
Overall, this was honestly one of the best Shin Megami Tensei games I've played.
It gets 4 out 5 stars.
They really should bring Soul Hackers, the first Devil Summoner game and Radiou on the next gen and seeing how well this has been doing lately. Chances are, it could happen.