Just a little about my RPG background before I dive into the review. I consider myself more of a casual RPG fan than a hardcore fan of the genre. Some top RPG’s I have finished are Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 7, and Fallout.
Soul Hackers takes place in a highly technological/futuristic city called Amami. Once a small urban town, Amami is becoming the hub for everything that a tech lover would drool over. With the help of technology, the Amami government have provided rampant use of computers, the world’s fastest and most connected internet/network, and the launch of a virtual world called Paradigm X.
Paradigm X is a virtual 3-D city created for the citizens of Amami to enjoy. At the time of the game, the virtual city is still in its Beta testing phase and the only way to gain access to it is through the winning of a lottery. The city provides pretty much anything a real city does. With a colonial style look to the building, the city offers everything from shops, hang out clubs, and a movie theater. Inside the city, players can interact with other members of the city. Basically it’s like The Sims but a lot cooler.
The Protagonist is a 18ish year old who is part of a hacker group called the Spookies. At the start, not much is known about the Spookies except they seem to be the type of hackers who just do things because they can. The group consists of Leader (The Leader), Lunch, Six, Yu-ichi and the protagonist’s best friend, Hitomi Tono. It is with the help of Hitomi that the player hacks the Paradigm X server to help gain access to the beta.
As the title inclines, demons are a very large part of the game. The player is first introduced to demons in Paradigm X while being taken through a vision quest (one of three). In the quest, the player takes control of a famous summoner as he finds his way through the HQ of the company responsible for Paradigm X. These vision quests are positioned to advance a story in a different way by providing the player a little behind the scenes look at what they are dealing with. As for the first vision, the player is shown the most important tool in the game, the Comp.
The Comp is given by the leader soon after awaking from the vision quest. The whole game is focused on the use of this Comp. With it, one gains prestige around town, the ability to summon demons, and more.
As the player is thrust into a world of demon summoning, an all-new aspect is introduced to the game. A large part of the games focuses is on collecting and maintaining demons. These demons are collected in many different ways like in battle or with the new 3DS feature, Nemechi. Nemechi allows the trade-in of Nintendo play coins to gain access to new and specialized demons.
Demons can be added with pure force or cunning. At times the last demon in an attack group will offer their services out of fear and possibly respect. Also, before each battle, the player has the ability to over-look the attack and use the power of persuasion to talk the demon into joining the group. Once the demons are captured, a lot is opened up to the player.
Demons have many different abilities and attributes. Apparently demons are a lot more complex than one may consider. Demons base their relationships on loyalty and have feelings. Even though a demon may decide to join the party, that doesn’t mean they will enjoy the group. The demon loyalty meter is a big strategy element to the game. A demon with low loyalty will act like a little child and out of spite do the opposite of what is asked of it. This could gravely damage an attack strategy in bigger battles when a demon defends when it’s needed to attack. The loyalty of demons is gained over time or with special items. Loyalty can also be lost with an unhappy demon. Some demons are naturally more independent than others. Those independent demons, even though loyal to the group, may not necessarily take kindly to constant direct orders. These demons are best left to choose the right option for their moves in battle. For the most part they choose wisely. Other demons enjoy different styles of fighting. There are those passive demons that enjoy hanging out, healing, and protecting the group. There are those aggressive demons that like punching things right in the face, and then those middle of the road demons. All these demons’ feelings(?) become a big part in developing a relationship with the demons.
Demons can be taken as is or joined together in fusion. Fusion can be a tricky thing. There is a lot to consider when fusing demons. Yes, one could randomly put demons together to create something out of the deepest gates of hell. Or one could follow the guidelines to truly make the most efficient demon for the party. A lot goes into this process, and finding that process out is half the fun of the game. I will just tell you that everything mentioned in the above paragraph comes into play as well as the time of night among other things. It is the job of the player to become a demon-summoning master.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers may be a remake, of a remake, originally on the Sega Saturn, but it still holds its own as a solid game. It has all the same features one would expect from an RPG like items, money, etc, with a unique spin on demon summoning. The game is based on a 90’s game and it is pretty hard to get away from the 90’s graphical look. For some, this may be a turn off in this fully 3D life we live in. For long time readers, you may know I enjoy this nostalgic feel of 90’s games and the developers have done a decent job cleaning this game up for the 3DS. Since the original Saturn release, voice acting, a new opening scene, and new music have been added to the 3DS version. In fact, Devil Summoner Soul Hackers is one of the biggest 3DS games that I can think of, around 14,500 blocks (Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is a little over 14,000). This massiveness adds an interesting immersion for the player through voice acting and animated scenes though even they can be a little rough at times.
For a fan of the original Soul Hackers games, the 3DS version is a good way to bring oneself back into demon summoning. For any 3DS owner looking for a good time with an RPG game, Devil Summoner Soul Hackers is a game for you. A casual RPG fan may find themselves a little overwhelmed by the different aspects of the game, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more immersive game than this.
PN Review: Soul Hackers