Title: The Surge 2
Developer: Deck 13
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Genre: Action, RPG
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, Steam
Version Tested: PS4
Official Site: www.thesurge-game.com
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Where To Buy: Steam, PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store
For the past few years, developer Deck 13 has been trying to match the reception and quality of the Dark Souls series. Their first attempt, Lords of the Fallen was met with a mixed response, while The Surge was still met with Mixed reviews they all leaned to more of on the positive side. Both Lords of the Fallen and the original Surge failed to reach the level of depth and intrigue that the Soulsborne series has been able to create, but both still had elements that made them interesting enough to play and try out. But there was a certain level in both games where I didn’t finish the games but I was able to put down the controller and get a basic idea of what these games were about. I was able to finish the original Surge not long after when the newer DLC packs started adding more to the lore and adding more depth to the gameplay. With all that in mind, will the Surge 2 be able to pick up where the other two entries failed? Will it be a long-needed breath of fresh air in a genre that’s been long dominated by developer From Software? Or will we have to add it to the pile of tombstones that litter the Soulsborne graveyards?
A Surge of Inspiration
Let me say right off the bat, the issues I had with Lords of the Fallen and the original Surge went right out the window, I was obsessed with it during my time with the game. There where legitimately some points during my playthrough where I had a hard time putting the controller down and going on with other stuff I had going on throughout my day. Where the first Surge kind of fell in love with the bright brown color scheme it didn’t seem particularly full of life as the Jericho City environment of The Surge 2 does. The theme park in The Surge while it did have some interesting ideas and level design it just didn’t have any personality to carry a 30+ hour adventure. Until the games DLC came out, the environments in The Surge didn’t feel particularly inspired. The Surge 2, on the other hand, gets rid of that notion right away as you’re thrust in Jericho City and immediately take in your surroundings, the life, and the colors of the environment you’re going to be spending a large bulk of your playthrough with. Jericho City isn’t a particularly large place to explore, but the intricate shortcuts and pathways that lead you through the city make it feel a lot larger then it is. The downside to that is that sometimes it does get hard to remember what shortcuts go where and a few times I was able to get a little lost and had to double back. But, even that doesn’t seem as much as a chore as a lot of times you’ll find some item you missed on your first way through that area. And with that element of exploration, the game does throw in a little MetriodVania into the mix by adding certain items that are only accessible with certain upgrades.
Hack n’ Slash Upgrades
The brilliantly visceral mechanic of cutting off enemy limbs in order to get more upgrades to your character’s rig and getting newer and better weapons makes a triumphant return in all its gory glory. The combat is almost exactly as it was in The Surge, meaning it’s almost exactly the same as the Soulsborne games. You have light/heavy attacks all controlled by a stamina meter. As I mentioned before if you see a piece of armor on an enemy’s leg that you think would look great on you, you can chop away at the limbs armor until a prompt comes up for you to hold down a button. What I particularly liked about this is that you are able to still attack and defend yourself while the prompt charges and you can get that sweet new piece of armor or upgrade. The Combat feels a lot more fluid and reactive then it did in the previous game, which worked out well for the light armor, speedy character build I like to go with in these types of games. The downside to this would have to be that once you find a particular weapon or armor set that you like, you can upgrade it to the point where anything enemies drop will be laughably underpowered compared to what you have on you at that moment, which kind of discourages variety and experimentation.
The few annoyances I have with the game’s combat would have to stem from the Battery meter that is located under your health bar. Every hit you give and every enemy you kill adds to the battery meter and you need at least one bar to heal or use certain items. While this does encourage you to be more aggressive and heal more unless you have some certain upgrades equipped the battery meter will decay and you’ll have to find more enemies to slaughter. This particularly gets annoying on boss battles since obviously enemy kills to fill the meter faster while hits fill up tiny portions. So unless you go into a boss battle with a full battery charge you’ll be stuck chipping away at your battery meter until your able to get a good charge.
And now for some of the drawbacks with this game. I’ve already ranted about how the battery meter can get annoying, another small annoyance is that a lot of the time the stamina bar does seem particularly unforgiving, even for a light armor class like I was. Dodging and Blocking seemed to take off huge chunks of the stamina, in some fights that would leave me open for a few precious seconds while my character recuperated. All this did was teach me to be more careful in my attacks and know when to just retreat. But this issue came up during a few fast-paced boss fights where I had to attack/block/dodge all in a matter of seconds but the restrictive stamina meter seemed to be fighting me at every turn.
Another big issue I ran into, was the graphics. Focus Home Interactive has been making a niche in what has been termed AA games. mid-tere games. Games that have some jank but ultimately are enjoyable, while for the most part, I have been enjoying my time with The Surge 2 it does have some of the worse texture pop-ins or even just textures not loading that I’ve seen this side of the Playstation 3. Some times Characters will just look like sock puppets talking to each other, and others you’ll get to see every great little detail. But they aren’t bad enough to ruin the fun that can be had with this game.
Verdict: The Surge 2 is guaranteed to scratch that Dark Souls itch if you’re willing to overlook a couple of graphical issues and minor gameplay annoyances then you’re definitely in for a great time.
So what did you think of The Surge 2? Did you enjoy it? Do you think it might be coming close to Dark Souls in quality? Let me know in the comments below!