BADGP Reviews: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers

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Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers (ATLUS)

Released: April 16, 2013

August 29, 2013

Alex Linna

Review: Successful Streamlining

One of the last words I would use to describe a game in the Shin Megami Tensei universe would be accessible.  Trading a low point of entry for depth in demon fusing and negotiating is a key part of Atlus’ flagship universe.  Soul Hackers was a SEGA Saturn game only released in Japan in 1997 that found a new life on the 3DS in the states.  The premise will seem familiar to .hack fans: Paradigm X is a sort of “second life” simulator for those in the game, but users start experiencing strange symptoms and it is up to the hacker collective “The Spookies” to get to the bottom of things.

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Gameplay

Soul Hackers on 3DS makes enormous strides towards player convenience.  There are “hacks” that can make the game easier, including difficulty, or having the entire map filled in.  This aided the experience through what would have been seriously tedious in the aged game.  There is also a story recap option and the ability to suspend a game through a quick-save option, which is always appreciated on a handheld.  The game is both dated and updated striking a good balance of new convenience feature while maintaining the game’s original identity.

Soul Hackers plays much like other Shin Megami Tensei games, specifically Strange Journey.  First-person dungeon navigation with a helping of turn-based JRPG is what mostly comprises Soul Hackers.  There are demon negotiations like Nocturne, and the series staple of demon-fusing to take the demons one has to make newer and stranger demons.

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Story

Soul Hackers screams 90’s! From the dialogue to the fashion it is clear this game is several decades old.  This creates a unique tone and setting for Soul Hackers and it might be it strongest and most defining feature.  The characters are decent, the player’s friend Hitomi being the standout as well as her demon possessor: Nemissa.  These two embody the series’ constant thematic battle of Law and Chaos.  The narrative takes the player through some interesting locations although “generic, evil corporation building” is overdone after the second time through.  Overall, the story is good enough to justify completion.

Audio/Visual

Soul Hackers was a Saturn game and it shows although the cut scenes and character portraits are great.  Musically the game keeps a fairly mechanical sound to go with the hacking nature of the game.  The opening credits song is fantastic and the main battle theme is solid.

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Compare

As for Shin Megami Tensei games go, Soul Hackers is definitely in the bottom half.  Though I have yet to play a “bad” SMT game Soul Hackers would be near the bottom of my list.  It’s a good experience and its unique setting justifies its existence, but it does not do much that has been done better elsewhere.

Should I Play This Game?

To answer the above question: I would have to go with a solid, “Probably Not.”  With Shin Megami Tensei IV out this year also on 3DS, Soul Hackers is not in the same league as its core series brother.

Concluding on Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers is a solid Shin Megami Tensei experience that I would only recommend to those who cannot get enough of the Shim Megami Tensei universe.  It possesses several crushing difficulty spikes, but was overall enjoyable.  Its unique setting and strange situations Soul Hackers puts the player through make it worth playing but only for the Shin Megami Tensei die-hards.

7.9 out of 10

Image Credits:

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