GAME NAME: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner – Soul Hackers
PUBLISHER(S): NIS America
PLATFORM(S): Nintendo 3DS
RELEASE DATE(S): October 4th, 2013
The 90′s were a wonderful, much simpler time. These were the early days when various games in numerous genres went from being influential to revolutionary. Some enjoyed their much deserved mainstream success where others gained a cult status among fanatical followers. There was the East and the West and the differences were plentiful. Okay, maybe the 90′s wasn’t such a simplistic era in the gaming industry and this particular series was in the middle of it all.
Fans of the Shin Megami Tensei series will already know this but let’s get the rest of the demographic up to speed shall we. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, yes that is the game’s full title, was released exclusively in Japan on the SEGA Saturn. The console was less than favourable and was competing against the likes of Nintendo’s N64 and the ever mighty Sony PlayStation. And so it’s no wonder that so many of its titles went unnoticed to the general gaming community. Not to worry though as Soul Hackers was later ported to the PlayStation in order to gain a wider audience… in Japan that is. That doesn’t really help us though, and so while it took its sweet time, a little over 15 years to be precise, we finally have an English version, the missing link if you will, to the Shin Megami Tensei series.
You are the game’s protagonist, a hacker accompanied by a group of likeminded friends who are a part of a group called the ‘Spookies’. Early on, you rig a national lottery in order to gain access to a virtual world titled ‘Paradigm X’. This is the premise to the beginning of your journey and things only manifest into far more interesting plots from this point on. Everything from the storyline to the dynamics of the gameplay in Soul Hackers is reasonably complex and requires a significant amount of time to truly master. If you’re looking for a pick up and play, easily accessible lighthearted RPG don’t bother even attempting to play Soul Hackers. This may seem like a general downfall to the game but is, in fact, one of its strongest attributes as you at no point feel overwhelmed while constantly having to plan your overall outcome.
The deeply classic first person RPG gameplay is accompanied by understandably dated graphics which the younger generation of gamers will immediately slate. Elements such as these are cleverly counteracted by some design work and storytelling by the developers. This is a reoccurring theme throughout the game. One of the most noticeable twists that differ from the original is that you are now able to hack the system by receiving new demons via the 3DS streetpass function. This being a niche title however, especially locally, you should rather opt to use your system’s play coins in order to unlock D-Souls which are essentially advanced demons. There’s a good chance no one else you know will own this game. These demons come in handy when coming to terms with how the other demons contribute to the game. Some demons react differently at different times, some fuse with others, some turn into items and some react to the other demons you already have with you. Some pretty intense stuff. As intense as it is however, it remains manageable and that ultimately makes Soul Hackers worthwhile as the sense of accomplishment will keep you coming back for more.
If you are a fan of the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy franchises, chances are that you already have all the disciplines to thoroughly to enjoy this in-depth JRPG. The writing is superb even by today’s standards. Keep in mind that most of the games topics were written in the 90′s and that the themes that make up the game have become a reality in today’s modern internet society. Soul Hackers is a lot more than a demon infested virtual world, it is a masterpiece that fans are now able to truly appreciate and treasure.
If you are interested in picking up this title be sure to visit our friends over at AnimeWorX. If you aren’t situated in Gauteng, you can simply buy it on their online store. Easy right? What are you waiting for?