The Surge 2 is a single-player, post-apocalyptic sci-fi souls-like, developed by AA studio Deck 13. In this game, players will impersonate the unnamed survivor of flight 221’s crash over Jericho City, USA, happened under mysterious circumstances. Waking up without memories of recent events, players will find themselves walking a dark and devastated world filled with dangers, death and misery – not yet knowing they will soon be part of a much greater plot unfolding.
As seen in the previous chapter, this title offers souls-like style combat united with RPG-style exploration, crafting based progression mechanics and quests. Surge 2 expands missions greatly, offering a large quantity of quests with overall clear objectives and often meaningful rewards, multiple choices. Level design has taken a considerable step up as well, with even more complex, vertical, varied environments filled to the brim with alternate paths, secrets, and secondary areas. The addition of online mechanics such as map markers and even a hide and seek mini-game featuring place-able banners are interesting, but still no PvP / Invasions.
Even with many positive sides that greatly expand and innovate on the prequel’s mechanics, Surge 2 also has some issues, first of all balance problems, since some weapons, especially 2.0 Boss ones, and implant combinations united with specific armor sets can create immensely powerful builds, too much for their own good, this factor in the hands of experienced players can make the game significantly less challenging. Secondly, the game can sometimes crash or have visual glitches impairing visibility, for me these were however rare problems I had just a couple times in 26 hours. Lastly, the boss challenge and quality is inconsistent, with some of them being a serious challenge, while others are just underwhelming and too simple.
Overall, even with some issues, The Surge 2 is a worthy successor to the first chapter, improving, expanding and innovating all the mechanics that made Surge 1 an excellent game. Priced at 50€, and offering about 20-28 hours for a single run, heavily depending on player skill, secondary quests, exploration rate, efficiency, ultimately offering excellent content quality, I can recommend getting this game at full price.
Pros & Cons
+ Excellent world and environment building, offering visually great landscapes united with complex, vertical level design.
+ Satisfying exploration mechanics, rewarding attentive players with unique items, secret quests and bonus resources.
+ Significantly improved quest system, featuring fully described, branching choice quests in generous amounts.
+ Challenging, tactical, skill-based combat system, with new mechanics such as directional parrying.
+ Great amount of weapon classes, armor sets, implants and items to find.
+ Overall interesting story and lore, especially for veteran players accustomed with Surge 1 already.
+ New Game+ mode that changes enemies and even some boss fight mechanics for a second play-through.
– Balance issues with some weapons and armor/implant combinations, creating overpowered builds.
– Inconsistent bosses: some bosses are very difficult while others, even found later, are instead less challenging.
– Above average number of minor, moderate bugs or issues, in need of some polishing and fixing.
🎮 Gameplay Analysis
Gameplay in The Surge 2 is divided into Exploration, Online Mechanics, Character Management, Quests and Combat.
Exploration in early game is performed on foot, with the aid of your exo-rig for enhanced jump capability, while later on with main story, a number of gadgets will be unlocked to traverse previously inaccessible map areas. Needless to say, exploring every nook and cranny of the various areas is extremely rewarding in terms of gear, weapons, implants and resources found, while also giving out numerous recordings, shedding more light on the events happening in Jericho. Surge 2 introduces some meaningful backtracking, as several doors and areas will be closed off at first, and only much later players will be able to pass them. There is a map but can only be found at static info stands and doesn’t provide much info at all. Fast travel has been added, unlike in Surge 1, and is unlocked pretty late in the game, comprising only a few, but critical, places, and is a welcome addition.
Online Mechanics consist in players being able to leave markers around the map (if they find the proper drone module) in a similar fashion to Dark Souls, while a hide-and-seek mini-game, where players need to hide their banners, and all players can find others’ banners around: the more a banner stays hidden, the higher reward will the owner receive in terms of Scrap.
Character Management consists in equipping gear, implants, weapons and as well improving them via a crafting-based system. As in Surge 1, materials for upgrades, and new gear itself, is mostly obtained by chopping off enemy body parts in combat – but a good amount can be gained from looting, quests or shops. Differently from Surge 1, implants can freely be changed on the go at any time, but crafting / upgrading still need a Medbay. Leveling up your hero will give two stat points to spend in Health, Stamina or Battery, which are all important attributes, and do not influence what can or can’t be used: players can use every gear piece regardless of stats, which sadly removes some depth from the build system. On death, all scrap is lost and needs to be retrieved in time, which increases when enemies are killed, just like in Surge 1.
Combat is the core of The Surge experience, taking all the good points of the prequel’s combat, improving them, while also adding new mechanics or altering existing ones. The baseline is the same: learn enemy attack patterns, use the right tool for the job, make a build that works, and most of all be skilled in dodging, timing and parrying – but the formula has changed: this time, healing is tied directly to energy gain, with charges being created from battery bars, gained by hitting enemies. Directional parrying is an interesting mechanic, but in my experience it proved to be rather unreliable and not really worth using over normal attacks. Combat finishers need energy and enough damage dealt to enemy armor, and HP, to be performed, in a similar fashion to Surge 1, and are a core mechanic as well. Surge 2 features a lot more drone-based weapons that can be very useful if used correctly, and make ranged builds a possibility with related sets.
🔩 Performance Analysis
In my 26 hours of playtime, a few crashes were experienced when killing a single specific enemy, but other than that performance and stability were solid all around without noticeable performance drops. The game ran solid on 1440p, 144hz, maxed out [RTX 2080Ti, 32GB RAM, Ryzen 9 3900X]. There were however some graphical glitches, namely polygons flickering around sometimes in a few areas, but nothing more.
The Surge 2 is a really worthy sequel of the first chapter, improving on all fronts and delivering a satisfying, challenging souls-like experience sure to please fans of the genre, I recommend playing the first game before this one to have a better understanding.
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