A Guest Review
There’s a whole load of games out there that you play and come away with the notion of promise. They aren’t perfect, in fact some are far from it, but they linger. You can’t shake the notion of what could have been. Thankfully Deck 13 have learned from their mistakes, scrubbed the pot clean, and tweaked the recipe when it comes to The Surge 2.
The Surge 2 is resolute in its approach to combat. Limbs are seamlessly detached from bodies and parries flow effortlessly into massively combos. If you’ve played the original, you were already aware of just how good the combat could feel and now it’s that bit smoother. Mix in the drone on top of the different combos attached to a multitude of weapons and there’s never a dull moment. Mixing between the two varying types of attacks will create Cross Combos that devastate those in your way. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what Deck 13 have done to improve the combat, but it’s definitely better than it ever was.
It almost feels natural to target the squishy limb of your choosing and prepping it for its forthcoming liberation.
Just like the combat, bosses also feel more well realised. There’s a clear deviation between sub bosses and main bosses, with smaller scale bosses reflecting the enemies in the area and main bosses being totally unique. The only issue is that bosses often feel a little clustered in their pacing and you’ll definitely get a whiff of déjà vu from time to time. Luckily they are only minor barriers to exploring the true selling point in The Surge 2; the world.
Ever since Lord of the Fallen, the developers have clearly had a knack for creating these unfathomably complex worlds that are a delight to explore. While The Surge was a little grey, The Surge 2 remedies these complaints with an evolving cityscape that breaks free of the warehouses of its predecessor. There are a few moments when the layout clicks as you pry open a seemingly innocuous door, revealing that this labyrinthian world has perfectly looped back on itself. In this moment of clarity you can look out over the progress you’ve just made and pick out tiny parts you might have missed as the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.
You’ll eventually make your way around the diverse world of The Surge 2 as you overcome each obstacle. This means there will be strolls in the park known as Gideon’s Rock, a quick visit to a quarantine zone, spelunking in some underground caverns, a prison break that welcomes you to The Surge 2, and a quick trip to a security compound.
Each area feels markedly different from the last, which is a vast improvement of the original.
This also extends to the weapons, equipment, and armour of the game. You can opt to strap two massive spikes to each arm with the Twin Rigged archetype, joust with your opponents from a safe distance with the spear, smash skulls with a massive axe, or take quick jabs at your enemies with single rig spikes. Playing around with the weapons and finding the perfect weapon to suit your style can take a little bit of time, but the structure of The Surge 2 means that can test all of these out on the fly without the need to start over and re-spec your character to suit, unlike other Action RPGs.
Armour is also approached in the same way as the weapons in that there is a vast mix of differing equipment that boasts bonuses for full and partial sets worn.
The types of armour are split between the various character archetypes, which are exactly what you’d expect. You can be a chunky boy, called a Goliath, that can eat through enemy swings without much thought, but spends all of their energy on making sure the rig of their choosing is fully powered. Then there’s the Operator class that favours saving energy for mods over investing in chunky armour. Finally there’s the Sentinel class that sits somewhere in the middle. Nobody cares about fence sitters, so that’s all I’ll say about Sentinels.
At first you’ll clearly want to pursue better armour, but there’s an underlying mini game that actively encourages you to become a bloodthirsty Greta Thunberg. Before you know it, you’ll be knee deep in armour deemed as wasteful as you try to carefully pursue energy efficiency to squeeze another mod in.
Sometimes you might even want to level up and reap the slow incremental progress that accompanies sinking some scrap in to your rig. If one thing is for sure, it’s that customisation plays a massive part in how you approach The Surge 2.
For me, that meant creating the most agile character that could generate more battery power, attack faster, and heal more than any other possible build. I used that build to run forward screaming, flailing, and never looking back.
On top of all this, there is a good chunk of side quests complementing the overarching story. Uncovering the mystery of the crash that left you in a prison trying to recover what appears to be a mini civil war is your major driving force. It will slowly morph into something far more complex and peak with a yes or no decision climax that doesn’t feel entirely earned. There’s also a good few interesting and quirky side quests accompanying the otherwise dour story that inject a level of humour that reminds you not to take The Surge 2 too seriously and to enjoy it for what it is.
The Surge 2 has clearly carved its niche in the genre. It’s fast. It’s humorous. It’s bloody. And it’s better than what came previously. Side quests aren’t entirely linear and it will take far more than one playthrough to get the most out of them. That’s why I jumped right in to New Game + as soon as the credits had stopped rolling. It’s a stellar addition to the action RPG genre that reminds you that these games were never called Soulsbornes: Die Twicers.