The Surge 2 Review – Welcome to Jericho City
The Surge was a welcome surprise in 2017. A sci-fi Soulsborne from German developer Deck13, it was different enough to be worth playing. Sure, it was a little rough around the edges, the level design was merely ok and the combat was sluggish but, The Surge was still a good time. Fast forward to 2019 and Deck13 is back with a follow-up.
The Surge 2 continues where the first finished. Warren failed to stop the launch of the Utopia Project and thus the sky was seeded with nanites in an attempt to stop global warming. Unfortunately, the nanites have spread and caused a pandemic known as ‘Defrag.’
Your nameless character is travelling onboard an aeroplane when it’s hit by a piece of debris from the Utopia rocket. It crashes into Jericho City and so, your character is trapped within the quarantine.
The Surge 2 Review
Like The Surge, The Surge 2 actually has a whole lot of story to tell, though it’s not readily apparent. However, The Surge 2 is a lot more narratively focused than the first game. The sequel has a much more obvious story, focusing on your character and a young girl named Athena who was on the plane with you.
As The Surge 2 is a hardcore action RPG, the story is mostly told through exploration. You won’t be getting cutscenes and detailed exposition in The Surge 2 but if you dig, you’ll find a treasure trove of lore and story.
The meat of The Surge 2 is also pretty similar to the first game, though it’s been overhauled and improved in many meaningful ways.
The combat, for instance, is far better. The new ‘Directional Block’ mechanic makes fights much more enjoyable and gives your character a much-needed sense of power. Directional Block is essentially parrying, though you need to match the direction of the attack and the timing and not just the latter.
If you perform a Directional Block, the enemy will be stunned for a short time, leaving them open for you to do lots of damage. Even bosses are susceptible, though to stun/stagger a boss, you’ll need to block multiple attacks.
If you master Directional Block, you’ll find that combat isn’t necessarily easier. It is way more fun though and adds an additional layer of strategy to fighting.
While I found the combat in The Surge to be ok, I remember it being a bit slow, sluggish and not entirely responsive. Thankfully, that’s not a criticism I can level at The Surge 2. Yes, equipping a heavy weapon will make your character fight more slowly but aside from that, deliberate slowness, combat is tight and responsive.
It especially helps that in addition to there being many more weapons and weapon types in The Surge 2, the difference in fighting style, damage dealt, timing and Directional Block for each of them is very pronounced.
Another vast improvement over the original game in The Surge 2 is the level design. The CREO facility of the first game never felt like it folded in on itself in very many or many interesting ways. Getting around wasn’t as enjoyable as in Dark Souls or Bloodborne and in general, it was a bit of a slog.
The Surge 2 still has multiple self-contained areas but their designs are hugely improved over anything in the first game. The main hub, Downtown Jericho City, has dozens of secrets, pathways, ledges and doors that help create internal linkages.
Eventually, you’re able to go from the very beginning of each area to their “end” in just a few moments. Finding each of the pathways and opening up each of the areas is incredibly satisfying. Not to mention it helps you level up more quickly by creating quick ways to get around and get kills.
Like in the first game, players need to collect Tech Scrap to improve their RIG and “level up.” Tech Scrap is also spent on crafting and upgrading weapons, armour and implants which all goes towards making your character stronger and better.
Players will again be cutting off enemies limbs and heads in order to salvage their armour so they can craft their own. There are six pieces of armour to customise; head, body, left and right arms and left and right legs. Each piece can be different but if you wear at least three of a set, you get a bonus.
Wear all six and you get an even greater bonus.
Implants are, again, where the player character is most customisable. Implants grant damage buffs, elemental resistance, extra energy and/or stamina etc. There are so many different types of implants that do so many different things that listing them would be impossible, not to mention pointless.
The best way to get a handle on the weapons, armour and implants in The Surge 2, is to play and experiment. Players are able to set three different loadouts which can be changed on the fly. This is handy for going up against different types of enemies as well as just being a fun way to experiment.
Same Same, but Better
One aspect of The Surge that was a bit of a letdown was the bosses. While the sequel is an improvement in this department, the bosses in The Surge 2 are still on the weaker side. There’s not all that many of them and they’re really not very difficult.
Many of the standard grunts gave me more trouble than a few of the bosses. They’re definitely better than those in the first game but they’re still very basic. The best boss fights in games in this genre are the ones that push a player’s skills right to the brink (and then some) without feeling cheap. Bosses in The Surge 2 float between frustrating, cheap and fun. Luckily, the standard combat is great and there’s a lot more of it.
While not an ugly game, The Surge 2 also isn’t going to win any beauty pageants. On my PS4 Pro, there was a lot of texture pop-in and frequent screen-tearing. It wasn’t enough to ruin the experience but it was enough to lessen my enjoyment overall.
The Surge 2 keeps what was great about the first game and improves upon it many times over. It still has some issues but The Surge 2 is an incredibly enjoyable, hugely playable game.
If you enjoyed the first and/or like the Soulsborne genre, The Surge 2 is definitely worth checking out.
The Surge 2 was reviewed on PS4 using a digital code provided by the publisher.
Game title: The Surge 2
Vastly improved level design - 8.7/10
Combat is much better too - 9.2/10
Visuals are rough and lots of screen tearing - 6/10
Bigger and Better than the first game - 9.6/10