Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers is an interesting entry in the Shin Megami Tensei (SMT) series. Part of the "Devil Summoner" spin off series that began in 1995 with the release of "Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner" in 1995. It was initially released in Japan in 1997 for the Sega Saturn, then later ported to the PS1, but only got its first western release in 2012 for the Nintendo 3DS.

The game is in many ways an old school JRPG of it's vintage. Much like the first two entries in the series The game is first person dungeon crawler; it is obtuse to a fault; It's filled with poorly compressed full motion video (FMV), and it predates the advent of SMTs Press Turn battle system that the series is known for. However the game has a surprising amount to offer modern gamers: Its world is detailed and intereseting, set in a near future cyberpunk city in Japan. Character portraits are beautifully rendered and character dialog is fully voiced. Menus are snappy, and the game controlls well, and feels good to play.

In others it's fairly modern; The game is blessedly short clocking in at around 40 hours to complete. Save points, and healing spots are generously distributed, you can even acquire a skill that allow you to save anywhere. And the 3DS entry offers some quality of life improvements like a difficulty slider, some tweaks to the demon And while the battle mechanics lack mechanical interest, the rest of the game is absolutely filled with odd little avenues of exploration. Whether that's a demon fusion (the other series staple), sword fusion (???), zoma fusion (a kind of demon that evolves as you feed it other demons), a trading system, a casino, each with their own very Atlus takes. It's easy to spend a lot of time optimizing a party or building out better builds by investing time in these systems.

Overall, while this game doesn't hit the highs of something like Shin Megami Tensei IV or Devil Survivor, I thought it was an interesting look back at the series. An entry that offers a lot more to the player than SMT I or SMT II did, but in many ways is a reflection of those earlier games.