Monsters in Cyberspace: Soul Hackers May Be After Your Soul, But it Won’t Drain Your Spirit

My review of the at-long-last port of the unreleased-in-America 1997 Sega Saturn game Shin Megami Tensei: Soul Hackers is up at Slant. At first, my thought was that the only reason this game hadn’t been imported earlier was because there simply wasn’t a market for smart, intelligent, adult games back then, and that we’ve simply (and literally) grown up since then. But after getting into the meat of the story, which focuses on the soul-draining impact of an addictive online video game that is powered by demonic energy (and which feeds on human souls), I wonder if Atlus wasn’t just trying to do us mere mortals . . . like a drug dealer who has a change of heart upon realizing just how potent their latest dose is. In any case, despite being fifteen years old, I actually prefer a lot of the gameplay mechanics in this iteration of the SMT series–there’s no weakness-exploiting press turns, and the GO mechanic for your demons sometimes leads them to choose terrible actions, but you can hack the game on the fly to reduce the difficulty or automap an unexplored area, and that makes it easier to focus on simply enjoying the modern, technological atmosphere. After all, who doesn’t like to pause in the middle of a three-hour dungeon to chat with some demons?

What's a demon like you doing in a place like this?

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