The Surge from Deck13 Interactive brought a fresh new face to the hardcore action role-playing genre, better known as Souls-like. Its fundamentals were the same in the vein of exploring labyrinthine settings littered with tough enemies and progressively leveling up. What stood out was its visceral combat system, which was significantly different than Dark Souls with the ability to unleash deadly combos and target specific areas of your opponent’s body, be it torso, head or limb, in the hopes of stealing the schematics for whatever augment or weapon they are using. It was a welcome change to what us Souls fans are used to as, although the Dark Souls games were phenomenal games, their combat systems consisted more of timing your attacks instead of using fully-blown, flashy combos.
The Surge 2 doesn’t really do a lot to improve things. The combat is still brutal and satisfyingly weighty. Slapping the spit out of your opponent’s mouth using a pair of talons, which look like spiked knuckle dusters, feels fantastic, and stamina management, which is a Souls-like staple, is here too. This forces you to decide when to go all-out and when to retreat for a quick breather before lunging in again. There are environmental weapons to find too. An early find is the Bootleg Firestarter, which is basically a pipe with a small flame coming out of it and that causes burn damage when used. There is a great selection of weapons to find in the walled enclosure of Jericho City. Double-duty weapons remind me of those found in another FromSoftware gem, Bloodborne. This kind of weaponry has the ability to be switched from a light, fast-wielding weapon to a heavy hitter in one press of a button, which unlocks more potential for some improvised strategy when going toe-to-toe with the denizens of the city.
Speaking of which, Jericho City is the main setting for the entire game. It’s a walled off city due to an ecological collapse when the CREO corporation launched nanobots into the atmosphere in an attempt to control the Earth’s decay. Of course, the whole operation went wrong, causing catastrophic environmental damage and throwing the city’s inhabitants into a frenzy, driving them to kill anything that moves. You, a user-created avatar, happen to crash land smack bang in the middle of Jericho City, and you must survive and find answers as to what is going on. The story is driven by mediocre voice acting and a forgettable overtone, which is matched with samey environments. Survivors come in many forms of whom you’ll meet first in the starting area of the Jericho City Detention Center. Your character no longer has a voice, but you can engage in conversations using multiple choice dialogue answers. I never once gave a damn about what was going on. NPCs are lifeless and feel like their voice actors are reading a script without any feeling or emotion, but they need to be interacted with if you want to embark on the many side missions found in the game. It’s a shame, really.
The meat and potatoes are the exploration and combat in The Surge 2. Exploring the tight corridors and vast open spaces is an absolute joy, especially for the more observant players as there are so many shortcuts and hidden areas that you’re gonna need eyes like a hawk in order to find them. The main objective in order to progress is finding The Surge 2’s version of Dark Souls’ bonfires called Medbays. These things can be entered to upgrade equipment, level up your character, and bank your tech, which works exactly like the souls found in Dark Souls. After finding a Medbay, you can then wander around Jericho City to grind for more tech, or if you feel like you are leveled up enough, you can progress further to continue the plot. It’s a tried and tested formula that works now, and The Surge 2 adopts it nicely.
Boss fights are more duels with oversized mechanical beasts and demonic humanoids. They are still a case of studying attack patterns and watching closely for openings and exploiting them to full effect. This doesn’t mean they are easy to overcome, far from it; in fact, they will infuriate you as you fail, but they make you want to come back for revenge. Another tried, tested and proven formula that The Surge 2, like its predecessor, perfectly implements.
One new addition to The Surge 2 is the new parry system, similar to that found in Ubisoft’s For Honor. When an enemy is about to strike, an on-screen indicator will warn you of the incoming direction, and moving the left thumbstick whilst blocking in the same direction at the time of impact will result in a clash, pushing your opponent back and leaving them open for a counterattack. It’s an essential move to master and is extremely satisfying to pull off.
All-in-all, not a great deal has changed in The Surge 2 compared to the first game. In fact, it doesn’t feel any different from its predecessor, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Surge was a blast to play, and although the environments weren’t very interesting and exciting, and the story was okay at best, it was still great fun to brutalize enemies with stylish combos and get to that Medbay to level up so I can progress further. The Surge 2 is pretty much more of that on a larger scale with little quality of life improvements.
Developer: Deck13 Interactive
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: 24 September 2019
Do you agree with our review of The Surge 2? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.