I anticipate and have already seen in action the uncomfortable friction in discussing or assessing whatever this game ends up being, fueled by the cultivated long-held cynicism in following the larger SMT franchise for the past long while, yearning for a status quo that's not going to return, and dismissing whatever's going to take its place on an almost reflexive basis. I'm sympathetic to the disregard to an extent in labeling this game as too derivative-seeming, because I think the associated comparisons to things like Digimon Cyber Sleuth or The Caligula Effect aren't misplaced, as those games take knowing and deliberate inspiration from that heritage. The blanket rejection in drawing those parallels however is not something I connect to, because I count them as derivative works that have soundly surpassed their inspirative sources and landed on a far more compelling expression of their partly shared thematics. If Soul Hackers 2 looks more like these recent peers and progeny than its literal predecessor, I sure hope it's taking more from them than mere superficial flair.
The litigation of whether or not the game acts in accordance with the tone and aesthetic of the first game has also overshadowed other talking points that make this project interesting by its own individual merits. There have always been people in the SMT audience who've had a sort of defeatist wishlist of featuring a female protagonist and a more adult playable cast in whatever game the franchise turns up, and Soul Hackers 2 seems primed to deliver on both fronts after a massive lapse of never getting either. Miwa's character designs are one of the parts I'm excited about the most because they to me embody the best the garish and abrasive visuality the game sports while endowing the cast with a kind of pomp not seen since the genuine articles of Kaneko's departed haute couture stylings. The contextualization of who the cast are and in which setting do a lot to root the fashion even at their leggiest and skin-baring as being about the attire first, as opposed to a pretext for semi-nudity. That's my rationalization anyway as it stands, and whether the game lives up to that idealization is something to be seen later. As raw designwork, I'm pretty appreciative of how uniformly hunky the cast are regardless of gender lines; a little K-pop, a little otome, a little visual kei. If the expected intercast socialization turns up here and contains a romantic or sexual element, it will be nice if it occurs between adults.