I think I just hit the nine-hour mark -- not too far in but far enough to offer some impressions of this classic Shin Megami Tensei entry.
First thing I bet most folks wanna know is, does it feel old? Surprisingly, no. But a little, yeah. Okay...it definitely has a kind of PS1/N64-era feel to it, and of course, Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers was originally a Japanese exclusive released on the Sega Saturn and later ported to PS1. But ooh, do I dig that feel. Oddly enough, that is one of my favorite eras in gaming, as in many ways, gaming was reinventing itself to fit the polygonal era.
But visually, Soul Hackers doesn't actually show its age all that badly. It just looks kinda barebones. Visually, it almost presents itself like a Phoenix Wright game, with character portraits and such and very little in the way of actual animation. Everything still looks really tight, really clean, though, and the artwork looks contemporary to me.
The music, to me at least -- I know others feel differently about it -- is fantastic. I listen to the opening theme every single time I load the game up, and it's a joy to visit the headquarters. There's tons of variety, and the voice work really makes the characters that much more endearing.
The gameplay feels like Shin Megami Tensei. There really are no outdated mechanics. If anything, this game was kind of ahead of its time. One example is a cool, little app you acquire that allows you to save anywhere. Now, I'm not sure if that was a part of the original version of the game, but it sure is appreciated when playing it on 3DS.
I think perhaps the biggest difference folks will feel is the reliance on fusing demons. In many other SMT games (Devil Survivor in particular), your demons leveled up like you did. However, in Soul Hackers, they only gain loyalty, which does improve their skills, but it's very limited. Instead, you'll have to continue to fuse demons in order to create new, more powerful demons to fight alongside you. It's not something you really have to worry about, though, as it all happens pretty organically.
All in all, I'm having a really good time with Soul Hackers (3DS). It's still quite hip, asthetically pleasing, and fun to play. There's lots of depth, but it's handled wonderfully. I'll probably throw up a reader review after my first playthrough (there is a new-game-plus option, which I will definitely be taking advantage of), but for now, the game has my blessing. Comes with an OST too if you buy a physical copy, and if you are gonna buy the game, I definitely recommend going that route. Not only is the game fun, but I have a feeling it will only increase in value down the road.
(Disclaimer: This game is not Persona 5. Buyer beware.) :P