Deck 13 Interactive launched The Surge two years ago, bringing the hardcore action role-playing genre to a science fiction setting. It was a drastic shift in tone compared to their previous game, Lords of the Fallen, which didn’t stray too far from the Dark Souls formula. At the time, The Surge felt fresh, adding limb targeting, and a unique crafting/upgrading mechanics to the genre, however, with The Surge 2, Deck 13 Interactive has gone above and beyond. My (now customizable) character still looks like a mismatched futuristic mechanic, and you once again find yourself intertwined with the fate of CREO Industries.
Without spoiling the events that transpired in the previous game, The Surge 2’s narrative picks up immediately following the game’s ending. You awake from a coma months after your flight crashed due to a mysterious storm outside of Jericho City. The dystopian city is in ruins, overrun by the nanite-based disease that CREO failed to contain. Instead of limiting you to CREO’s facilities like in the first game, here, the entire city is your playground. There are non-playable characters to converse with, intriguing side missions to complete, and plenty of unique areas to explore.
With the expanded environment, I found myself getting easily turned around, way more so than in the previous game. However, it does offer you a chance to explore every dark alley and passageway for new implants (enhancements) and audio logs. It also gives you ample foes to cut limb from limb (literally), which earns you abundant tech scraps for leveling or upgrades. There are still shortcuts that make it easier to travel back to safe zones and to reach bosses without having to retread through entire sections of the game.
Combat focuses on a mixture of horizontal and vertical attacks, instead of the light and heavy attack buttons that other games in the genre utilizes. Instead, quick taps signify a light attack, while holding down an attack button unleashes a much more powerful attack, one that can break through shielded enemies. Combos combine the use of both types of attacks, and you’ll learn which work best, depending upon where you are targeting. The limb targeting system returns from the first game, letting you chose to focus on a specific limb, and hopefully remove it from the body. Doing so earns you a schematic for the exact piece of armor or weapon the enemy had equipped. It still feels strangely satisfying to see heads, and body parts flying in almost every direction in slow motion. Energy temporally earned by successfully attacking foes can be converted into saved stim heal.
Each weapon type comes with its own set of combos and attack patterns. A one-handed sword will generally have a faster attack speed than a massively heavy two-handed hammer. Thankfully, you can set different armor loadouts while at a medbay. Weapons can be swapped with the press of a button giving you the freedom to alter your plans as you are exploring. Without a doubt, the game is still quite difficult, and you’ll need to use your evade and block if you wish to survive and not lose all of your tech scraps. A new directional parry mechanic can stagger just about any foe, but I never quite got the hang of the proper timing. Instead, my drone buddy served as my protector, and I eventually didn’t even bother trying to parry. Unless you opt to play offline, tags from other players populate the world, leaving hints, tips, or tricks throughout the landscape. Foes may be flagged as a revenge target, if they recently killed another player, letting you retrieve materials for the other player who perished.
The Surge 2 builds upon the formula from the first game in the series with some notable improvements. The Surge 2 is still a grind-heavy game, especially if you want to fully upgrade your gear, and acquire full/partial sets for their sweet bonuses. The game features a much stronger narrative, a well-designed character creator, and an exciting cast of NPCs to meet throughout your adventure.Note: The Surge 2 was reviewed on PC. A digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.