Soul Hackers 2 Accessibility
Soul Hackers 2 is a brilliant experience that blends technology and spirituality in a really unique way! It's perfect for any fan of narrative-driven JRPGs. The turn-based battles are a cinch to master and the game has a variety of ways to customize combat.
Score7.5 out of 10
- Tutorial Customization
- Easy Mode has unlimited continues
- Remapping available for keyboard and mouse
- Save anytime in a dungeon
- Controller support with analog sensitivity
- Framerate issues hinder movement
- Inconsistent visual icons
- Some accessibility locked behind paid DLC
Learn how to do literal life-hacking in order to save a cyberpunk world from imminent destruction! Soul Hackers 2 is a turn-based Japanese RPG developed by Atlus and published by Sega. I’m reviewing the PC version of the game, but it was also released on PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Being a sequel to the 20-year-old title, Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers 2, the newest game brings updated gameplay mechanics to the series and modern accessibility!
The game stars two A.I. messengers taking human form, Ringo and Figue, who were created by a highly advanced machine entity known as Aion. Players will control Ringo as she gains the ability to “Soul Hack” the human spirit, gather Devil Summoning companions, and ultimately help her experience what it’s like to be human.
This includes getting to know friends with dialogue choices and completing side quests for other Devil Summoners. Players will also use, COMPs, weapons used to facilitate Demon Summoning in order to fight, hire, and even fuse other demons found in explorable dungeons.
Startup Menu Options
When starting up the game, I noticed that I had immediate access to difficulty settings, the options menu, and DLC content. The Soul Hackers 2 options menu consists of display, graphics, sound, gameplay, and key configuration. Soul Hackers 2 has controller support for PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo products, and I saw that I could even customize buttons and control stick sensitivity for a controller in the options menu.
Most of the accessibility resides under the Gameplay tab with options like camera customization, combat assistance, tutorials, and other accessible content for those with fine-motor skill impairments. Audio languages can be altered in the sound tab and English subtitles were turned on automatically.
However, accessing subtitle options took a bit more effort. On Steam, choosing subtitle languages required entering the Steam client and navigating to Manage and then Properties. Having to shut down Soul Hackers 2 entirely to make this change is such a complicated process. As for customization, there are no options available to adjust the presentation. The default style of subtitles though does have text contained within boxes on a dark background. Subtitles also show speaker names and avatars.
The controls in Soul Hackers 2 are fairly simple but do take some getting used to, partly because of some very unusual movement and framerate bugs. As soon as I started controlling Ringo’s character model in a dungeon, I noticed that she ran very strangely…like a car with bad brakes. Whenever I let go of the forward input, Ringo would keep moving in that direction for a few extra seconds. It was pretty awkward controlling her this way, so I tried looking up what other players were saying online. From there, I deduced that somehow Ringo’s movements were tied to the framerate of the game.
Soul Hackers 2 automatically has a framerate on “Unlimited” and her character model won’t move properly unless you change the settings. Personally, I found that locking the framerate to 60 FPS and turning on Vsync made Ringo’s character move normally and helped stabilize performance. I will clarify that this seems to only be an issue on the PC version of Soul Hackers 2. Thankfully, the game does offer fully customizable controls for the mouse or keyboard bindings.
Traversing town maps and alleyways does require using keyboard keys, but I was able to utilize “Windowed Mode” to access my On-screen Keyboard with no problems. All other areas in Soul Hackers 2, including dungeons and menus, are accessible even using just a mouse. There’s an autosave feature that activates after every important story beat, but I could manually save outside of cutscenes in every dungeon and town area anytime that I wanted. This was a refreshing feature to me because most games in this genre don’t usually allow for manual saves.
The combat in Soul Hackers 2 consists of turn-based battles with up to three other allied fighters. Every ally is playable during combat, but only Ringo can be controlled outside of the battlefield. I fought with and against many demons, each with their own set of exploitable weaknesses. These exploits include melee or ranged attacks and elemental weaknesses. Hidden weaknesses add up “Stack” points, which can
be collected into a Sabbath (a combined attack from the parties’ demons).
Utilizing the battle screen was a breeze for me because the game let me use the mouse to click on every single option! I used the mouse to choose between skills, items, guarding, assisting, and escaping, all without interrupting the flow of battle. There’s an Easy, Normal, and Hard difficulty setting. Playing on Easy mode gave me unlimited continues even after all of my party died.
The accessibility options under the Soul Hackers 2 Gameplay tab in the options menu helped with fatigue. Battle Cursor Memory is an option that let me choose whether the cursor kept the same position every battle and Demon Swap Memory made sure the Demon I equipped mid-battle stayed the same outside of battle. There was ONE slightly frustrating mechanic I encountered while I attacked enemies in dungeons.
Demons in dungeons are represented as polygonal monster avatars and if Ringo strikes them before they
see her, it gives the party an attack advantage before the battle. Turn-based combat is initiated if an enemy is knocked down. However, even when I was successful at knocking an enemy down, it wasn’t always consistent when giving me an advantage. I believe it’s tied to whether I attacked the enemy from the front or from behind, but even then it was a toss-up. This still shouldn’t stop most players from finishing the game, though I thought it worth mentioning.
Sights and Sounds of Aion
Visually speaking Soul Hackers 2 is very bright with futuristic neon lights on street corners and clubs. On the PC version of the game, I couldn’t find a brightness/contrast option anywhere. Those with colorblindness may also have trouble completing certain quests because of visual inconsistencies.
Later on in the game, a Devil Summoner club (Club Cretaceous) opens up to the player and the owner asks for help in the form of sidequests. Some of these quests involve speaking with certain NPCs that you must locate in dungeons and city locales.
To its credit, Soul Hackers 2 did have visual icons, but only some of them appear above important NPC characters’ heads. Players with visual impairments may have to go through a longer trial-and-error process in order to find NPCs. On top of that, enemies encountered in dungeons are colour-coded by type. Basic enemies are red, tougher enemies are purple, and enemies that drop rare items are gold. Purple enemies blend into the background the worst and they can’t be knocked down.
Eventually, I did have a supporting character join my team who gave brief auditory warnings depending on the type of enemy that appeared. Still, it may prove difficult for some with colorblindness to differentiate enemies.
Soul Hackers 2 lets me customize individual sound levels in the game including music, sound effects, and dialogue. As noted earlier, only one subtitle size is included and they automatically come with a semi-transparent background. There are subtitles throughout every cutscene, but no captions. This means music lyrics and party banter are not subtitled at all. As a result, Deaf/HoH players might lose some context, but getting through the main story shouldn’t be a problem.
One of my favorite aspects of the accessibility in Soul Hackers 2 is how it handles tutorials. I could customize tutorials in so many different ways! In the options menu, I could choose between having tips and tutorials auto-advance, advance by my button command, or not appear at all.
Those who may struggle with taking in information may also be happy to know that the game offers text speed options including instant, fast, or default. These options gave me so much freedom of play and I hope to see more tutorial customization in the studio’s future games.
Soul Hackers 2 has day-one paid DLC, which unlocks a plethora of extra content. This includes a Very Hard difficulty mode, new costumes, new battle music, story expansions, and a new Devil Summoning companion. Some things like the music and costumes can be unlocked fairly early, but others require getting to a certain point in the story before they can be accessed. The Sould Hackers 2 DLC also adds more content that I would consider accessibility additions.
The DLC unlocks customizable battle rewards that can be accessed in the options menu. This changes the type and amount of loot received after a battle which can be exchanged for unlimited status-boosting items, rare treasure, and unlimited experience points. For instance, with rewards turned on I could potentially go from level ten to fifteen instantly. So this content can help alleviate game fatigue without having to deal with heavy grinding hours.
Full disclosure, I was gifted the deluxe version of the game that included all of the DLC, but most gamers don’t have that privilege. I personally believe that accessibility, no matter how minor, should never be kept behind a paywall.
With many ways to customize tips and tutorials in Soul Hackers 2 for better accessibility, some players may find the guides to be smooth sailing. Easy mode offers unlimited continues and controller analog sensitivity gives players more versatility in playstyles. Unfortunately, framerate issues can hinder movement in the game and those with colorblindness may have issues dealing with inconsistent visual icons.
A review copy of Soul Hackers 2 was provided by the developer / publisher.