From the legendary JRPG developers Atlus comes the re-release and upgrade of Devil Summoners: Soul Hackers. Originally released in Japan on the Sega Saturn and later on the PlayStation in the late 90’s, western countries now get to experience yet another Shin Megami Tensei title, this time on the 3DS.
It is easy to see from the very beginning of Soul Hackers, that it was created back in the 90’s; from the stiff controls to the dungeon graphics that are reminiscent of Wolfenstein 3D, little has been updated. There is still a certain charm to it, though the only people that will see it are fans of the franchise.
The tale is set in Amami City and plays out in three different forms; as the protagonist in either Amami City itself or Paradigm X (a virtual world exclusive to the city) and via experiencing the last moments of certain Summoners through memories of the soul (reached via a really odd character by the name of Kinap). The story can be interesting and involving at times, but is overshadowed by long periods of pointless dialog that generally leads nowhere.
The turn based combat feels out dated and counter intuitive, the battle screens are bland and repetitive and if you have played any Shin Megami Tensei game before then the attacks and layout will be very familiar. Being able to talk your way out of combat with demons is a cool option, especially when they give you money or join you on your quest without having to battle them first, and their personalities can add some much needed comedic relief.
No JRPG could be complete without a massive cast of characters or creatures and Soul Hackers makes no exception. With nearly 300 demons that can be tamed, fused together, or summoned into battle, as well as your team and the other playable Summoners and their teams, it is easy to become lost among all the names and faces. Even your main partner is both a demon (Nemissa) and a normal girl (Hitomi).
Though Devil Summoners: Soul Hackers is a great game (and a nostalgic one for some), it will not appeal to a large audience though, and only Shin Megami Tensei enthusiasts will truly appreciate the subtle story concealed within the hours of tedium and repetitive gameplay.
Final Round Review - 6/10
- Steff Webb