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Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers Review

These past few months have been all about the 3DS, often starved of titles, all if sudden there are too many to choose from, with the little handheld hosting some great puzzle and platform games and most recently, a spate of RPGS reminiscent of the old SNES games. Making its long awaited arrival on our shores, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers is yet another for the collection.

Even with this well received game being well over 15 years old it has taken a surprisingly long time to finally get a translation with Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers originally released as a SEGA Saturn title, so do not go expecting stunning modern visuals; but as it goes with many of the better RPG’s its more about the story and content than the looks.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers is set around Amami City, a formally quiet and run down area that has been totally revamped by the government in their urban redevelopment policy. However rather than just taking down the high rises and building new parks, they have totally redesigned the city, making it the first fully digitally integrated city in the world, with every inhabitant given a PC and pretty much everything operated by one. Alongside this technological wonder world is a new virtual city, Paradigm X, where the Amami populace are able to log on and wander around, shop and even chat to friends. It is here that we meet up with our hero, a member of a group of hackers called Spookies who is trying to hack into the Paradigm X servers to get access to a BETA pass and see what all of the fuss is about. The experience, though initially exciting ends abruptly with a strange visit from a talking dog.

Back in the real world things are also getting weird, with your hacking group coming across a strange gun like device, that whilst appears broken, in your hands it begins to operate. This gun device though is not your standard ballistic weapon but a Demon Summoner COMP, a device that is able to store and summon demons who then act by your commands. If things were not already strange, then the bottom really falls out, with the talking dog becoming some kind of spirit shaman, your best friend being possessed by a demon and the leader of the Spookies getting kidnapped; this long and exciting story takes you on a strange and fulfilling ride.

With Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers being an RPG and an old one at that you pretty much know what to expect in terms of the majority of the content with lots of conversations and story building as you travel around the city and then a dungeon crawl when you get to each destination. When wandering around or if you are just shopping around Amami, most it is via well drawn talking heads, with the characters trying to sell their wares, request some help or jus fill in some of the story. It is quite a standard fare, though in this version the majority of the conversations are also supported by a voice track, adding a little bit more quality to the title. Once you are ready you can then approach the dungeons, spread all over the city, these are presented in a first person view, allowing you to wander around whilst trying to solve whatever problem the game throws at you. 

As with most turn based RPG’s, the enemies that lurk in these dungeons attack with little or no prior warning, with battles just popping up at seemingly random occurrences as you walk around. However, where Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers is initially familiar in terms of presentation, this game has a rather unique angle when it comes to the battle screen as not only are you able to attack demons, but also talk to them and this is where the game gets you, with it not only having a gripping story but a fantastic collecting element as well. Though mostly evil, with some Demons you are able to get into conversations with them, chatting about whatever they desire, sometimes they just want a talk, sometimes they offer you cash or other items; others though will want to eat you alive. Either way, with careful studying of each type of demon you will eventually be able to charm them to join your side, taking place in your COMP, ready to be summoned when required. This adds an interesting dimension to the game as not every random demon encounter results in a fight, which even as a 15 year old game feels quite refreshing, allowing you to decide as the player if you want to all-out attack or take your time and try to collect even more demons.

As mentioned earlier, this game dates back to the Saturn generation so there are some dated visuals, with the dungeon sections in particular looking drab and plain with no real visual flair, surprisingly though the anime talking heads still look good. Atlus have also included a few new cinematics, but when played against the games originals they do feel a little out of place. The 3D capabilities are also not really used to its maximum, some cut scenes have had 3D added, others not and the battle screens are little more than your health and status being brought into the foreground when switched on, you are not missing much by turning off the 3D and enjoying a longer battery life.

For those lucky (and old) enough to play the original there is still some extras here to tempt you back what with vocal tracks to supplement the large amount of text you have to read through when talking to certain characters and there is the inclusion of a new dungeon once the game has been completed. The best addition is the inclusion of a new demon, Nemechi, who resides in your 3DS. This little chap is able to be fed your 3DS coins and also Street Pass hits to evolve him, which in turn then allows you to purchase even more demons for your COMP.

Though a difficult game to start with, the interesting blend of demons, sci-fi and even a Indian style spirit coyote, the plot that you get caught up in never gets boring, with it even managing a few laughs and genuine shocks throughout, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers for the 3DS is a must for fans of the series.

Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version Tested: 3DS)


+ A very in depth demon fusion system
+ Talk and capture demons rather than fight them all
+ Though old, the visuals suit the 3DS screen


- Assumes far too much on players knowledge of RPG’s

Edited On 16 Sep, 2013

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