Have you ever found yourself needing one more piece of gear to complete the set? That left arm piece that, until now, has been unobtainable. Well now it is within sight and all it needs is a little bit of encouragement to finally be yours. By which I mean running at the person who’s arm it is attached to and beating them in combat only to remove said arm with precision and elegance. Welcome to The Surge 2, the latest action role-playing game from developer Deck13 Interactive that doubles down on the solid limb chopping combat of its predecessor.
Following on directly after the events of The Surge, players will once again be welcome to the dystopian future where humans have exhausted the world’s resources. This time however, rather than the industrial hallways of the CREO facility players will explore Jericho City, an advanced metropolis that has seen better days, with a giant wall now surrounding it to stem off a rogue, sentient nanite process that threatens to end all life. Now featuring a character creator, users will be dubbed the “Warrior” and awaken in Jericho City with no memories and a whole lot of problems.
As you might expect the main gameplay loop at work here is one that requires players to hack and slash their way through countless enemies. In this instance, third-person combat has been improved on since the first title, offering players a much more fluid and reaction system. The limb targeting system - the very staple of The Surge 2 - allows players the option to focus their attacks on particular parts of the enemy. This, along with the option to attack horizontally or vertically gives the player a surprising amount of options to approach any given encounter.
To further enhance the combat a parry system has been implemented that provides an extra layer of depth. By pressing and/or holding the guard button the player will enter a stance that, when moving the right analog stick in the direction of an oncoming attack, will see you parry the blow. Timing and managing your stamina is key here. React too early and you might not have enough stamina to catch the blow. Leave it to late and you might be paying with your life. It’s a system that doesn’t need to be mastered to enjoy The Surge 2 but it is there for those who want more than just dodging.
Considering most of your time in The Surge 2 is spent in combat, it is reassuring then that it works so well. Much like the parry, optional systems provide those looking for more depth and complexity the freedom to do so without locking out any players due to difficulty. In fact, The Surge 2 feels like a very accessible action role-playing game thanks to numerous, and often subtle, changes to the formula. You can now use any weapons and armour, develop your status with ease, use the combat drone and augmentations to help adjust the difficulty, and combat feels more balanced while still providing a challenge. Even removing limbs from enemies has become less of a pain since the first title, with new animations helping to make it even more satisfying.
Now this might sound like The Surge 2 is an easy title which is not the case. It retains a lot of the challenge and mystery that makes this genre what it is but has been carefully balanced to ensure players of all skill levels can enjoy it. One way the team at Deck13 Interactive has managed this is by changing the way energy is used and how it affects healing. As you deal damage you’ll charge up your energy meter. Each segment of this can then be spent to perform limb removal moves, special abilities, and use injectables. These can heal, remove poison, buff your damage, and so on but the key thing here is that they are on a recharge. Sure, you can stock up on charges to have extra uses but should you have the energy and they are not on a cooldown, then you can use them. This means that even in those moments where it all seems lost you can turn it around by landing one or two hits to gain the energy you need. It creates adrenaline rush moments and that is always a good thing in my book.
Though the gameplay is outstanding in The Surge 2 the same can’t be said for other areas of the title. The narrative is nothing to write home about with many of the NPC’s you find in the world being completely forgettable. It’s not terrible, but it isn’t going to be the reason you keep playing. The same can be said for the voice acting as well which again gets the job done but isn’t the greatest. Thankfully, performance on the PlayStation 4 Pro is impressive with a solid frame rate throughout. There was some texture pop-in throughout my time with The Surge 2, regardless of whether it was in ‘Performance’ or ‘Graphics’ mode, but it never detracts from the experience.
What Deck13 Interactive have managed to do with The Surge 2 is take an already functional and enjoyable gameplay loop and turn it up to eleven. From the fluid combat, interesting level design, and solid performance. The Surge 2 is a sequel that does everything right. If you like action role-playing games or want to try one then this title is highly recommended. Sure, the story might be poor but when cutting limbs off enemies for their gear is this fun you honestly won’t mind.
The Surge 2 (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
The Surge 2 is a sequel done right. With fluid combat, creative level design, and solid performance you would be hard pressed to not enjoy this title.