The Surge 2 takes
place after the events of the first game and follows a nameless and silent
protagonist instead of Warren. A flight you’re on crashes due to the events of
the first game, and you crash land into Jericho City. The city itself is in lockdown,
due to a deadly disease caused by tiny machine particles called nanites,
meaning that you and your plane are swiftly quarantined by the government after
the crash. You wake up, and escape quarantine and explore the city to solve the
nanite problem and follow mysterious visions.
The Surge 2 successfully expands on the original game in many ways, and the story is no different. While the more in-your-face narrative takes a bit of a back seat this time around, there is still a heap to explore and discover in the game. Exciting things are done with the high concept, sci-fi setting though admittedly it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before. One stand-out is one of the enemy factions, who want to embrace the nanite scourge and have organised religion around it. There are some light themes explored relating to transhumanism, but nothing ground-breaking.
If you’re worried
about not being able to play The Surge 2 because you didn’t play the original,
then don’t. The story and characters of the original game do pop up here, but
their content is mostly optional, and any critical information is exposited to
you as needed. Still, it’s nice to see some continuation while still meaning
that The Surge 2 can stand on its own.
Ask anyone with a cursory knowledge of action games about The Surge, and they’ll probably tell you It’s “a Sci-Fi Dark Souls.” They’re not wrong, but The Surge 2 does a great job at carving out its niche. Dark Souls inspired it, but to ignore what The Surge 2 does well that Dark Souls doesn’t sell it short. This is bound to be controversial, but The Surge 2 is a lot more forgiving and, while still challenging, plays to its strengths much better. Don’t worry, though, it still provides the higher risk-reward mechanics that Souls fans have come to know and love. Those who struggle can equip specific modifiers that make dismemberment and parrying easier too, accommodating players of all skill levels.
made the first game unique is still here in The Surge 2. You can again target
specific body parts, as well as dismember them to unlock new armour and
upgrades. You still earn Tech Scraps which can be lost if you die, and which
you must retrieve within a specific time limit after respawning. Most
importantly, you’ll slowly unlock shortcuts and paths as you come to realise
just how interconnected all the areas of Jericho City are. This is Deck13’s
most ambitious open-world yet.
The combat is, without a doubt, the highlight of the game. As mentioned previously, your character can target specific body parts of enemies in a bid to slice them off and obtain that equipment for yourself. But certain weapons can also be used to inflict elemental status effects, of which certain enemies are weak against. Poison works better against human enemies, obviously, whereas the nanite infused weapons work better on machines. Switching between them in battle isn’t completely necessary, but it does make some encounters a lot more approachable.
enemies, it makes the dismemberment system more appealing. Previously,
dismemberment would be used as a finisher – but with robotic enemies, who can
function without a limb or belt or whatever you cut off – they will still come
at you (albeit differently) which makes things feel a little bit dynamic.
You’ll even get better drops of equipment if you manage to dismember certain
enemies twice before killing them. Gruesome.
Much like its inspiration, the boss battles are the main attraction in The Surge 2, and it’s clear that’s where most of the attention went. While some see recycling towards the end of the game (a considerable pace killer, I might add), they all are unique and enjoyable to battle. Despite this, I couldn’t help but feel they were a little bit too easy – some of them defeated on my first try. In a game that channels the essence of challenging games like Dark Souls, it feels a bit off. Perhaps I was just smart with my equipment and loadouts, though. Still, each battle is distinct, but I would’ve appreciated some more massive, non-human bosses.
The Surge 2 feels
like what a proper sequel should be – having the same core elements of the game
but at the same time expanding it beyond what it was. The boss roster has
doubled meaningfully since the last game. There are over twenty sets of gear to
unlock and upgrade, each of which bestows unique buffs to your characters. The
world itself has opened considerably – taking things outside of the facility
the first game took place. There’s even a slew of non-humanoid enemies to
battle that stops things from becoming stale.
The variety in Jericho City as a location does wonders for The Surge 2 and leads to some great and memorable events. Taking things out of the industrial location that predominantly featured in the first game; you can expect to explore the more vertical city streets, shopping centres, a power plant and even a park. The park is a great highlight – being taken over by a band of hunters who use camouflage and thick foliage to get the jump on you. It felt like a de factor Predator meets Dark Souls experience and worked well.
As you explore
Jericho City you’ll be able to interact with other survivors and take on quests
from them too. While these do a good job at fleshing out a little bit more of
the game world and individual character stories, they very rarely amount to
anything more than going to an area to find something and then returning.
Still, some of the rewards from these quests are helpful for less experienced
players, and one of them had a nice little twist at the end.
Your first run through The Surge 2 will probably take around twenty or so hours, putting it about on par with the first game. The huge difference here, however, is that while it’s the same length as the first game, there’s much more variety in this sequel. When you’re done, you can run through the game in New Game Plus mode as well, which unlocks higher tier upgrades for your equipment as well as more powerful enemies to take on. Barring a few repeated boss fights, The Surge 2 is paced well enough that you’ll want to jump back into it once finished.
It’s just a bit of a shame then that The Surge 2 isn’t particularly impressive visually as there’s so much potential here. At first, I thought it was because I’d chosen to play on a mode that favours framerate, but in all configurations, on console, The Surge 2 looks rough. Strong artistic direction, which The Surge 2 has, can only take you so far as locations look flat. There’s also a bizarre issue with the game’s HDR implementation, which makes everything look washed out. Despite this, the game does run at a smooth framerate if you choose, but everything else comes across as drab.
THE PLAYSTATION 4 VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED ON A PLAYSTATION 4 PRO FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
The Surge 2 successfully builds upon the original game in practically every way – offering a larger roster of bosses, more equipment to pillage, and a bigger, more organic open-world to explore. A few pacing issues and some issues with the visuals aside, The Surge 2 offers a greater variety of experiences over its predecessor and is easily Deck13’s best.