Soul Hackers 2 hands-on preview: The best demons


With its most recent Persona games, Atlus has landed a stylish presentation that elevates its beloved RPG franchise, making it as cool to look at as it is enveloping to play. Twenty-five years after the release of its predecessor and a decade after its arrival in North America on the 3DS, Soul Hackers 2 puts a sci-fi twist on Atlus’ sleek sensibilities and potentially gives RPG fans a different take on it. from what they already have like on developer titles.

Soul Hackers 2 is the sequel to Demon Summoner: Soul Hackers, itself a sci-fi spin-off from the Shin Megami Tensei franchise. GameSpot was able to spend a few minutes playing Soul Hackers 2 at Summer Game Fest 2022, where we got a quick taste of how the game will play. According to Atlus, while the early Soul Hackers had a pretty hardcore RPG bend that might have put some players off, the sequel seems to be a bit more welcoming, while apparently borrowing a lot of what works from recent hits like Persona 5 to introduce a new twist. story.

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Although it is a sequel, Soul Hackers 2 is its own story, set in the same world as Soul Hackers but without continuing that story. It also seeks to offer players a story that’s a bit more mature than, say, Persona games – with Soul Hackers 2, you’re dealing with an older cast of characters, rather than ones going through high school. But it’s also a supernatural sci-fi RPG, so expect some fantastical elements; for example, there are demons and you summon them.

Our hands-on time didn’t give much insight into Soul Hackers 2’s premise or overall story. You play as Ringo, a character created by sentient artificial intelligence and sent to prevent an upcoming world-ending event. As you’d expect, you recruit other characters to join the ranks of your team, including rival factions of Devil Summoners, who have the ability to contract demons and harness their powers.

Demons are central to the game, giving you powers in battle like magic spells, provided you can get them to join you. For example, we entered a dungeon and sent our demons ahead to check the place. While exploring along the way, it was possible to encounter our demons, who had found items or information about the dungeon. Sometimes one of your demon allies can find a demon to meet with you, giving you the option of recruiting them to the team, provided you can do what they ask of you. As we ventured into a dungeon, a pig-like demon was ready to join us as long as we could give him some tasty items from our inventory. Demons on your team allow you to equip your characters with attack skills, so having a good variety makes you more effective in different situations.

You also fight demons throughout the game, and we encountered a version of the demon pig in the dungeon before one decided to join us. Enemies appear as figures walking through dungeons as you explore them, and while you can hit them to knock them down or sidestep them as you move through an area, hitting one sends you into a turn-based battle . Soul Hackers 2 combat is all about finding out information about your opponents and then exploiting their weaknesses with elemental attacks. A regular melee attack may do minimal damage against one type of demon, but another type that is weak to that type of attack takes massive damage.

Each time you exploit an enemy’s weakness, you also earn a “Stack” point. At the end of your turn, Stack points are automatically used to summon your demons, which then lay down on your opponents, essentially earning you a powerful bonus attack. This “sabbath” adds more demons, the more stacks you manage to accumulate during your attack phase, so the smarter you fight, the more devastating your end-of-turn demon strike.

Managing your demons goes beyond simply recruiting them when you find them in the world. You can also use various crafting materials to “fuse” two demons together, creating something new. We briefly saw the fusion system in action, choosing two of our little demons to make a stronger one. The system gives you the ability to customize your creation based on the daemons you used to create it; each demon has a set of abilities, and when performing a fusion you can choose which of these original abilities to bring to your new demon to customize it as needed.

As you might expect from an Atlus RPG, while combat is a big part of Soul Hackers 2, you’re going to be spending a lot of time engaging with the game’s characters. Improving your relationship with your teammates is an important part experience, not only because it expands the game’s story, but also because it empowers you in combat. During our hands-on, we were able to initiate a Hangout session at a bar with one of our teammates, Arrow, striking up a conversation to get to know him better. Your choices through dialogue during these times can allow you to deepen your relationship with the characters – make choices that cause them to trust you more and consider you a friend, and you’ll increase their Soul Level.

You will also increase your soul levels with your teammates as you progress through the Soul Hackers 2 story, depending on the choices you make along the way. It looks like it will have advantages in battle as your party becomes a stronger team. It also certainly has story benefits; Atlus said during our hands-on time that increasing your soul levels with different characters can even unlock access to new physical locations, as well as more story for those characters. Overall, it looks like investing in increasing your soul level is going to pay off with more time with your characters to build relationships, and potentially, more story for the game as a whole.

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Our look at Soul Hackers 2 was brief, but despite the abundance of features like fusing and trading demons, it seems quite accessible even for players who aren’t very familiar with SMT, Persona and the brand of role of Atlus. play a game. Battles are simple and easy to understand, while rewarding you for smart play and tactical thinking. But the most interesting part of Soul Hackers 2 seems to be the game’s dedication to its characters, with plenty of room to invest time in getting to know your team and the world they inhabit.

Soul Hackers 2 will be released for PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S on August 26.

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