08th Oct2019

‘The Surge 2′ Review (PS4)

by Britt Roberts

surge-2-ps4-cover

Having never played the original The Surge and, upon reading into it, finding out that it was dismissed by some as a Dark Souls clone, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this sequel. After spending several hours with The Surge 2 I was surprised to find that, whilst it does come from that genre of difficulty being a focused game play feature, it’s a really strong and involving example of the style that absorbed me far more than I was anticipating.

Following a plane crash into the centre of Jericho City, the (custom-created) protagonist wakes up from a coma, straps some defibrillators to his hands and starts fighting his way through the ruined prison and metropolis beyond looking for answers, massive weapons and power-ups for the quickly-procured exo-rig… it’s an absolute blast.

Whilst the narrative exists to move through the different areas of the city, the real key here is the weighty combat, tight level design, risk / reward mechanics and heavy customisation options. Progress in the game is incremental and can be teeth-grindingly tense and, very occasionally, unfair but always feels satisfying. Combat is fluid and well-implemented with the timing of your strikes being key as you aim for the more heavily-armoured parts of enemies to hack off and keep for yourself or perhaps go for their less-armoured sections and limbs, reaping you less benefits but at the cost of an easier skirmish.

Originally going for a hard ‘n heavy approach with a double-handed weapon that was like hitting people with a chest-freezer filled with bricks, I whittled down my style to a niftier two-handed blade attack which allowed me more freedom in combat and didn’t rinse my stamina quite so much. There are a lot of wepaons and augmentations here to cater for all styles of play.

Whilst the game has its flaws (mainly when multiple enemies rush you in confined spaces, taking all of the finesse and strategy out of the combat), it kept dragging me back when I got killed, lost my tech scrap (the in-game currency) and had 2:30 minutes to run from the checkpoint to pick it up again or face losing it forever. Every new alleyway or gutted building was made more ominous by the ambient industrial soundtrack that accompanied me as I made my way around, looking for pick-ups and the next, all-important medbay to heal and upgrade.

The writing is a bit of a weak spot with looped conversations and forgettable NPCs littering hub-locations but when the focus on melee / drone combat is so strong, it doesn’t have much negative impact. I’m not here for emotional involvement, I’m here to rend, destroy and build my rig into an unstoppable beast, luckily.. The fact that enemies respawn after every save does add to the (designed) grind but whereas this design choice was a deal-breaker for me in the recent Decay of Logos, the fun of the combat and exploration here kept me involved and ploughing through, each hard-fought battle and subsequent item unlockfeeling well-earned.

If you are a fan of tough games with an inbuilt element of grinding, The Surge 2 is one of the strongest examples I’ve played, the fallen scrap-punk world and cobbled-together enemy designs and makeshift weaponry really drew me in and I wanted to get that bit further, level up my suit and get deeper into Jericho City, other gamers’ graffiti tags assisting me as I make my way through the debris.

For my money, The Surge 2 is the best ‘Dark Souls-esque’ game I’ve played, I can’t wait to dive back in.

The Surge 2 is out now on PS4 and Xbox One.

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