Forming a party and going after a giant threat to the world is nothing new to JRPGs, and for Soul Hackers 2, at least on the surface, it seems like it’s exactly the same. You and your band of misfits form a formidable party to grow stronger, forge friendships, and save the world from destruction. Simple enough to understand.
However, bubbling beneath the surface are themes of technology addiction, empathy and the concept of true free will. And while these elements of the story are nice and carry the story through, the world leaves us with more questions than answers. Be warned: spoilers abound.
8/8 How has the world stagnated?
From the very beginning, the world is explained to be stagnant, and people instead simply exist within the confines of capitalism while they await the end. It doesn’t paint the brightest of pictures, but Atlus doesn’t believe in shying away from the bleak. So it makes sense to imagine sad, empty streets, right?
Well, one look at the world around you, it all looks…normal. People go about their daily lives as if things were as they always were. Maybe, that’s the point. They are simply just going through the motions and watching time go by around the clock again. Maybe normality is the point of stagnation.
7/8 Are all human souls digital?
The concept of humanity in Soul Hackers 2 is like how people in real life view their lives. Generally they live for life, and that’s it; they proceed as normal. In times of crisis, however, protagonist Ringo can bring characters back from the dead – though they are few and far between – via hacking.
Well, if human souls can be hacked, does it stand to reason that they, as humans, are not much different from computers or software? How secure would their minds be if someone other than Aion himself found out it was possible? You can already make pacts with devils, why would brain hacking be out of the question?
6/8 Which came first, Aion or cyberspace?
Better yet, how did the existence of technology come about in the first place? Did someone create Aion as a means to watch over life itself, or was it a construct that simply came into existence without the help of a creator, similar to the big bang theory?
It is understood that Aion is the collective consciousness of humans, but is technology based. How would you quantify that into something tangible enough that people are able to use it and apply it to everyday things like search engines and the like? Aion honestly brings more questions than answers in the story.
5/8 Were Figue’s feelings for Raven love, or something else?
As constructs of Aion, Ringo and Figue do not have much understanding of humans and how they relate to each other, so the emotions they will experience are completely new to them. Understandable. As the character Raven comes into the story and you get to know him a bit, you start to see a shift in Figue and the way she interacts with him. It has become softer, perhaps even motherly.
What isn’t made clear about her feelings is where they come from. Did she see the side of him that wants to protect the kids and fall in love with the idea of Raven? Or was it a deep respect? Whatever it was, it drove her to risk everything for him to try and resurrect, something you don’t do for someone who is just an acquaintance.
4/8 Were Aion’s actions truly altruistic?
The survival instinct is the strongest impulse a human being can have, because it controls all other impulses. It reminds you to eat or sleep, or gives you that “feeling” that makes you change your mind and stay home instead. Would it be a stretch to think that when Aion saw the future destruction, perhaps it figured that the easiest way to save itself was to save humanity?
Aion is the collective data of all humans, so it is possible that some of humanity’s traits could have rubbed off on Aion and given it a strong desire to survive. Or perhaps it was Aion from the beginning who instilled the will to live in the collective humans. It’s a wonder they didn’t try to intervene when humanity’s stagnation was imminent.
3/8 What happens to Ringo after the end?
After everything is done and the final boss is defeated for good, the journey of the team of unlikely allies comes to an end. They go their separate ways and continue their lives as changed people. The world is saved, and Ringo’s ‘sibling’ is gone. Aion is also now gone. Ringo is the only one left who carries both the legacy and the burden of being Aion.
Ringo has free will and no obligations to anyone but himself; nothing but space and opportunity for the hero of mankind. It’s not quite the happy ending, but it’s not the only one. If you meet certain requirements throughout the game, Ringo’s well-deserved happy ending will be unlocked.
2/8 Will Aion return the same as before?
It is not clear what happens to Aion at the end when Figue’s ‘God Form’ is defeated. You know it has been taken over by Figue’s grief and will, but when all is said and done, the only thing said about it is that Ringo will wait for them to return. This is terribly sad, because you get the feeling that her holding on to the hope that Aion will return keeps her from feeling alone.
Of course, all of this can be answered if you meet the requirements to unlock the true ending, saving everyone in the process.
1/8 How will everyone react to a real God?
It’s not every day that a being outside of your realm of existence and knowledge reveals itself to you at face value to befriend, which happens if you meet all the prerequisites for the true ending. How is it possible to go on with your life knowing that you are always being watched without a shadow of a doubt? Some would find comfort in that, but surely it would be a shock to the rest, right?
The themes of conflict and free will are throughout the game, and it doesn’t seem like Aion is trying to change that for humanity, but it stands to reason that there will be some resistance and possibly more of the conflict they’ve been trying to ‘cure’ from humanity. It’s a long shot, but a sequel or spin-off that explores the dynamic between the two would be interesting.
NEXT: Soul Hackers 2: Best Requests