Surprise review(I was 6+ hours in by the time I had access to my computer, so I skipped the impressions)!
As per usual, you take the role of a silent hero, with a name and last name of your choosing. In this particular instance, you are a member of the Spookies, a group of hackers that live in Amami City, a city that thrives in technology and information transmission. Very early in the game, a new virtual city game launches, Paradigm X, and you alongside Hitomi, a fellow member of the Spookies, hack your ID into the beta testers... soon enough you ran across Kinap, a spirit that sends you on quests through the eyes of dead people, and Hitomi gets possessed by the Demon Nemissa, and then demons start appearing on certain locations... Yes, it's Shin Megami Tensei alright. I found the story to be just the right amount of interesting and engaging to keep you pushing on, but by SMT standards, it's not too deep or long(I clocked 25 hours before finishing the game without altering the difficulty), but most of the main cast are deep enough with different personalities to make them endearing.
Defeating enemies will reward you with experience points and the most important currency in the game: Macca. Macca can be sold for money to spend in shops, it can be used to negotiate with demons, you need it to fuse demons(Demons don't level up, so you must fuse or recruit new demons in order to maintain a good party) and you need it to summon demons. Yes, summoning a a demon(Placing them from stand by into your party) costs a certain amount of Macca depending on the demon, and just having them on the party consume Macca for each step you take in the dungeon(Which is why you should only fill all 4 demon slots on boss fights only). Honestly, it's not as annoying as it sounds, Macca was never an issue for me. What is annoying, however, is the Loyalty system. Demons have different personalities, and these reflect on how they want to be commanded("dumb" demons should be allowed to do what they want, "Sly" demons like casting spells, "Wild" like to attack,etc), and unless they hit Loyalty level 5, there's a chance that they might not listen to your orders. But what is annoying is that sometimes, even with maxed loyalty, they will refuse your order and do whatever they want, and these will cost you loyalty! "Grinding" for loyalty on your demons, to have them at optimum loyalty for boss fights, isn't much fun.
As for the presentation.... this looks like a DS game A pet peeve of mine is when people say that a game looks like "A game from X Console", X usually being a console from a previous generation, but in this case, it's true. Graphics are very dry and lack any kind of animation, it's not ugly by any means, but it looks very dated. The 3D does nothing for the game, might as well not even bother. Music was pretty good, not the best of SMT's soundtracks, but it's good, fitting music. As for the voice acting... every scene in the game is voiced, and the voice acting is excellent, every performance was believable. Lastly, while the game is rather short for an SMT game, finishing the game unlocks "Extra Game", a six mini-dungeon romp with extremely hard bosses, if you want a real challenge, and you can't save until you are done!
Soul Hackers is a really good game, but rather short by SMT's standards. Thanks to the "hacks", it's pretty accessible if you aren't familiar with SMT, although the latter dungeons can get pretty annoying with all the instakill spell spam. It's hard to recommend over other SMT games, but it's still a good game.
7.5 out of 10.