Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers
doesnít want for mechanical depth. There is a lot going on at any given time and part of the fun is attempting to align the gameís myriad of mechanics. Many of the same gameplay elements found in more recent entries Ė recruiting demons, fusion, and loyalty, for example Ė are present, though in slightly older form. At any given time, youíre charged with managing multiple resources and keeping various modifiers (such as moon phases) in check.
Conversations are one of the gameís more interesting, and important, aspects. After encountering an enemy, you can choose to converse with it. If your response jives with their personality, you might be able to bypass the battle or even earn their allegiance. At the same time, a wrong answer can lead to a fight. Learning to successfully negotiate is important; it is the only way to build your party and earn some resources, especially money. Once a demon is in your party, there isnít a guarantee it will stick around. If a demon doesnít approve of your actions (including how it is used in combat), it may disobey your commands or quit.
Alternately, battles are the only way to earn experience, unlocking the ability to negotiate with higher-level demons, and earn Magnetite, which is required for summoning and maintaining demons. A large party can quickly drain your Magnetite stocks, forcing you to decide between a large, powerful party, or a smaller, weaker one.
Party management is easier once you delve into the Demon Fusion system. Up to three demons in you cadre can be fused together, creating new demons. Fused demons are usually more powerful and will sometimes carry over its "parentís" skills. Eventually you earn the ability to fuse demons with your weapons, earning new player skills. The systems offer a lot of customization, though mastery requires both patience and experimentation.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers is a fun throwback, though in order of fully appreciate everything it has to offer, youíll need patience and the ability to overlook some of its "older" quirks.
**Note: Soul Hackers is available both as a physical release and as a download on the 3DS eShop.