Hey folks today we have one of the latest titles to hit the Nintendo 3DS by Atlus. If you haven’t guessed it I’m talking about Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers! Though for this reviews purposes I shall be referring to the game as Soul Hackers, otherwise I think most of this review would be filled up with the games name. Well without further ado let’s got onto the review for Soul Hackers.
For those not in the know Soul Hackers is a JRPG originally released in 1997 on the Sega Megadrive, though the Nintendo 3DS release is the first time Soul Hackers has been released in Europe and North America. The game is set in a futuristic Amami City. In this place everything at a glance seems great… but a group known as the Phantom Society are planning to steal the souls of the City’s inhabitants via a virtual world known as Paradigm X.
Now before I dive in to the full review I am going to make you aware that this game won’t hold your hand. If you’re new to the series this is obviously going to be a scary moment for you as you try to learn how to play the game. Fans of the series will easily pickup the game and know what’s expected, but this learning curve isn’t one to put you off the game… so don’t be too afraid of it. This was my first game in the series and I can happily say whilst it felt daunting at first it become a fun and enjoyable experience the more I played.
Onto the gameplay! Battles are a big part of Soul Hackers and the battle system takes a little while to get used to before you fully understand it. Battles are turn based; on your turn you are able to perform moves such as attacking or using items – pretty similar to compare it to Pokemon if you need an idea to visualise. On your party you have six spaces and you can have a team of not only humans but demons. Throughout the game you have the opportunity to talk to demons and this isn’t just for fun! Talking to demons will have issues to sort just as humans do and, as you can guess, helping them usually leads to them joining you.
So you’re reading this now thinking “well you said this game was somewhat daunting… it seems fairly easy at the moment”. Well it is a bit more complex than I’ve currently mentioned. You need to build trust in your party otherwise you can be ignored and therefore members of your party will simply act as they please. Trust is a very important thing and if your team lacks it then you are well and truly going to find battles difficult if your team are not willing to listen. It isn’t very far into the game when you have your first battle, but getting used to the battle system is something that will take time but feel so rewarding.
Dungeons. You’ll know all about them if you’ve played a JRPG before and they do have a big role as you would expect in Soul Hackers. Firstly the main problem is that you need to get used to saving. Dungeons last around half an hour (maybe even more at times) and if you don’t have to save regularly you’ll be sent back a fair distance. Dungeons are fun yet challenging experiences which you are going to want to make sure you have a well balanced and trusting team.
Gameplay within Soul Hackers is an enjoyable experience though my main issue is that the game does, quite honestly, feel dated. Yes Soul Hackers is essentially a remake.. perhaps even more of an up scaled re-release and it is obvious that the game was not designed for handheld devices in mind. One massive hint to this is the massive gaps for save points. Originally being a home console release this would have been normal, though sadly handheld gaming is usually in much smaller bursts so a more frequent save option would have been a welcome addition to the game.
Soul Hackers is a challenging game, though not so challenging that it becomes impossible or even a chore to complete. It has a healthy mix of being difficult enough to make it hard to progress, but not too much so that it feels rewarding instead of frustrating. Whilst playing through Soul Hackers you will constantly feel rewarded if you defeat one of the harder sections or finally manage to defeat a boss which was an issue previously to you.
So let’s take a look at the positives and negatives;
+ A good range of difficulty that makes the game feel rewarding, not frustrating.
+ Great nineties feel and brilliant story.
+ Battle system works efficiently and well.
+ Building trust and hiring members for your party is approached in an interesting and great way.
- Feels slightly dated.
- Doesn’t feel as if it fits a handheld play session.
I always find it hard to recommend a game to certain audiences, and Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner Soul Hackers is one of those ones which falls under that. If you’re a fan of JRPG’s, Soul Hackers is well and truly for you. You will enjoy its great battle system, enjoyable story and way it approaches certain elements such as dungeons. If you’re new to the series though and JRPG’s you will find this game more challenging and daunting to venture into and that might lessen your experience. Whilst I say this you should definitely try out Soul Hackers, even if you are new to the series. Though keep in mind whilst playing that the game will not hold your hand and that you will have to work things out on your own; in the long run though this is one of the most rewarding experiences of joining the series and learning anew.
Overall Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner Soul Hackers is a great game to hit the Nintendo 3DS. It seems that JRPG’s are being released left, right and centre at the moment – and this is one you will want to definitely add to your collection. Soul Hackers has a great nineties feel to it and, while feeling dated, is the first time we have had a localised release here in the UK of the game. While the game will certainly make sure it challenges you it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have on the 3DS and become a game that you will truly love.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.