14 Reviews liked by Stephen_Hilger
Soul Hackers 2
I've finished this game twice, once on the PS5 version and once on PC. Obtained true ending on both.
For context, Megaten has been my favorite video game franchise since 2015, and Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers is one of my favorite games in the entire franchise. When Soul Hackers 2 was announced in early 2022, I felt a combination of optimism and skepticism going into this game. On one hand, I was so happy that ATLUS was making a new Megaten game that wasn't Mainline SMT or Persona, which still gives me hope that there will be future games for other Megaten spinoffs (devil survivor 3 PLEASE)
On the other... this game looked like a very big departure from the first game. It took awhile to somewhat get over that hurdle for me, but once I did (and after going through the game twice), I can say that - while flawed from a dungeon crawling perspective, I enjoyed my time with Soul Hackers 2.
In my opinion, I think that the best part of this game is the story, which might just be the best Megaten story since SMT IV. The main party of this game are some of the most charming characters I've seen from ATLUS, and Ringo might just be my favorite protagonist in all of Megaten. She's wonderful. The plot is simple, but works very well throughout most of the game due to solid writing and great voice acting. Furthermore, I appreciate the emphasis of Detective Work throughout the game, which is seen throughout all of Devil Summoner. While this doesn't feel like a Soul Hackers sequel in my opinion, I think this game works great as a Devil Summoner title (should've called it Devil Summoner: Aion)
The combat system called "Sabbath" is similar to the demon coop system in Strange Journey, and while it starts of slow, it really does open up greatly the more you progress through the game. While I don't think it's the best combat in Megaten, I find it to be very solid on its own and remains fun through the rest of the game.
The same cannot be said for the Dungeon Crawling. As a whole, these might be some of the worst dungeons in all of Megaten. The Soul Matrix (the game's optional dungeon which provides very powerful upgrades and additional story for the party) is the biggest offender to this. Boring designs, repetitive music and visual design, large amounts of dead/open space, etc. The main story dungeons also suffer from these issues, although as the game progresses, there is slightly more variety in both music and visual design. After the November Patch, dungeon crawling is less annoying with the addition of a sprint button, but this only mitigates the bad dungeon crawling. Coming directly after SMT V (where the open areas of Da'at had really incredible level design), it's crazy how much of a stepback this game was.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with this game. Soul Hackers 2 goes on sale often, so if you're a fan of ATLUS or are just looking for a solid JRPG, I do recommend buying it! Although reception and sales were middling for this game, I do hope for future titles in Megaten that aren't Mainline SMT and Persona. Personally, I think it's likely with how well SMT V and the P5R ports sold, so I'm looking forward to what's next from ATLUS.
This game is doing things I love. Meta narrative. Interesting "mechanics" that make the VN worth it. Absolutely incredible characters.
But the solutions to its puzzles are sometimes so bizarre. This could have been a perfect game, but it's still a great game.
This review contains spoilers
13 Sentinels was a 5 star game for me on PS4 and still I love it for all the reasons I did then. But on second playing, its sexualization of its teen characters is deeply messed up and its gay panic and kill your gays tropes cannot simply be excused by waving the “culture” magic wand.
Citizen Sleeper asks you to decide if escape is possible. It took several minutes of impasse and tears and not touching my controller for fear of making a decision before I was ready for me to know what I thought about that question. Citizen Sleeper gives you several potential answers and in the ones that resonated with me was the kind of deep personal freedom you only find, sure enough, through community.
Citizen Sleeper is about disability and body dysphoria and the inevitability of corruption, and it is about the things the grow among and around those things. The antidotes and the byproducts. Citizen Sleeper is good.
Listen. I just can't think of anything bad to say about Tunic. It was really truly something.
Beautiful, surprising, mysterious. The music fucking rules. So many jaw dropping
moments of beauty. Puzzles that are engaging and difficult but fun.
moments of beauty. Puzzles that are engaging and difficult but fun.
Tunic got me to love a Soulslike. Who knew this would be what it took? Elden what? Hollow who?
See you on the far shore, ruin seekers.
A well-done tactics game with approachable depth for those who want to get into the genre. It’s very story heavy and paced poorly to start, but once you get into the loop of battling, upgrading, and learning more about the story it’s a fantastic experience. Lots of replay value as well with branching paths throughout the game.
Part of what made this game great is what it did for longtime fans of the main series Pokémon games: an indication that the call for change has been listened to. That alone, as showcased in the gameplay loop, gave many reason to rejoice. I would consider this game a step in the right direction, meaning that there is still more that can be done, but comparatively, it's more than the standstill the series has performed over the last couple decades.
Whenever I put down the plastic and nearly broken toy gun attached to the House of the Dead at my local movie theatre, I always left slightly dissatisfied. Not because there was any lack of zombie shooting fun, or campy 90s dialog, or really tough boss battles that demanded you dump your lawn mowing quarters into it. No. I was disappointed that I couldn't also hone my typing skills while saving the world from the evil Goldman.
Everyone is well aware at this point that Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing was just not edgy enough for we-the-teens in 1999, so Sega modified the lore of the House of the Dead extended universe to solve for this problem. They posited that the agents in House of the Dead would not be carrying guns, but rather a large apparatus that strapped onto the characters and also would shoot bullets if you typed a word fast enough. Isn't that harder than pulling a trigger? Perhaps for someone without keyboard prowess, but not for Typing of the Dead's titular heroes: James and Gary.
You progress through the game by shooting zombies after quickly unloading words like 'Octopus', 'Flea' or phrases like 'Collect the Stamps'. Long story short, if you can type, you can win.
All in all, this game taught me to type, taught me to love, and taught me to cry. I don't know what else you would need from a video game.
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