After a first chapter with some great ideas but not several problems, Deck13 he tries again and returns to the market with The Surge 2, his direct sequel.
The first The Surge was received by the specialized press quite coldly and turned out to be an overall mediocre title, which failed to particularly stand out in the market. In this new sequel it looks like the development team has been working for file the defects of the above and improve the overall gaming experience.
Let's see together if the work done by Deck13 has managed to be convincing and satisfying.
A city in ruins
The Surge 2 is set in Jericho City, a futuristic city in ruins devastated by the nanite threat. The metropolis was in fact surrounded by a huge wall to prevent the epidemic of nanorobots capable of infecting humans and machines from escaping further.
Although the premises of the story are interesting, the plot never takes flight and, throughout the course of the game, the narrative seemed too secondary to us. You will hardly be able to be captivated by the events told during the unfolding of the story, but it is still a pleasant and original outline.
This time the protagonist it is not well defined and will be customizable thanks to a simple editor that will allow you to create your own warrior. The editor is unfortunately quite skinny and being able to create visually pleasing models is no easy feat.
The extremely positive aspect of The Surge 2's sci-fi context certainly is the setting. The various environments are indeed a lot inspired, rich and downright charming. The inspirations to the great classics of the genre are found almost everywhere during the course of the game and this can only be good.
Very often the game environments have been able to tell stories better than the ordinary script could. Whole Artistic direction has therefore improved and reached excellent levels.
Soulslike in the manner of Deck13
The focus of The Surge 2 lies in the gameplay, which appears to be improved, expanded and more layered than in the previous chapter. The title remains a classic action RPG but the development team has been able to give originality to its gameplay by creating a peculiar system.
Once we put on our exo-suit, the game allows us to: combine two types of attacks (light and heavy), dodge, block, parry, activate skills and take advantage of the drone, all in a very fluid and dynamic way.
In addition to the classic dodging, a parade system which allows us, if used with care, to launch powerful counterattacks. During the clashes it is also possible to see, thanks to an indicator on the screen, from which side we are about to be hit.
To parry the enemy hit it will be necessary to hold down the button to block and move the right analog in the highlighted direction just before impact. If the parry hits, a powerful counterattack.
The system is though very punitive and the time window to parry the opponent's blow is really short. Failing a parry is almost always the same as being hit, and any wasted parry will also reduce our stamina bar.
In addition to the health bar, the resistance bar must therefore also be kept under control and that of batteries (which we will discuss shortly). Each action carried out in combat (parrying, blocking, dodging and attacking) consumes the stamina bar and if it empties we will not be able to do anything more until it recharges.
Rich and satisfying combat system
At the beginning it is not easy to manage well the actions to be performed to avoid running out of resistance, but over the hours you will surely be able to get carried away. Also the parry system is quite difficult to master, but once fully understood you will be able to advance more easily.
Hitting the enemies you go to reload one third bar which is that of batteries. Thanks to its accumulation it is possible to use active skills called "injectables". Each injectable used goes to scale a battery and there are different types with different effects.
The first injectable that the game makes available to us is for example a cure that allows us to recover health during clashes, but there are also skills that improve defense, strength, attack speed and so on.
Another gadget available to our protagonist is the drone. The small device will provide us with support during the fights and can be changed to make it attack with different types of bullets. You can use classic bullets, mount a sniper rifle or stun weapon and even a flamethrower.
During the course of the game you can find additional modifications for your drone that will help you in the continuation of the adventure.
The peculiarity of The Surge 2 combat system lies in the possibility of select which part of the opponent's body to target. By repeatedly hitting a certain part of the enemy's body or armor, its resistance can be reduced. When the resistance drops to zero it is possible break or cut the desired body part at the cost of a battery.
This action, in addition to serving as spectacular finishing move (complete with slow motion animation) allows you to earn the blueprint for building that particular piece of armor. In fact, in The Surge 2 you will have to earn new weapons and new armor detaching them directly from your enemies.
The armor is divided into the pieces: helmet, arms, chest and legs. Equipping an entire set with all the pieces of the same armor grants us bonus effects.
Every weapon and every piece of armor can be upgraded collecting materials (also taken from the part of the opponent's body corresponding to what you are interested in strengthening) and this is an aspect that makes the player completely free to use what he prefers.
This is because, at the cost of having a little patience, it is paradoxically possible to improve and enhance even the weapons or armor at the beginning of the game and complete the title with them without problems, leaving complete freedom to the player.
The only problem we noticed during the fights is one collision and hitbox management not always accurate. Several times we have seen damage from blows that did not seem to have hit us.
This problem has popped up much more often during fights with large boss, while during the fights with humanoid opponents it almost never happened.
We particularly appreciated the variety of weapons available in game, which make the gameplay varied and stimulating thanks to the various fighting styles proposed by the latter. Each type of weapon has its own set of animations and moves, the assortment certainly is not lacking and there is something for all tastes.
Summing up the gameplay of The Surge 2 we find a rich, full and satisfying system. The whole results certainly complex during the first hours of the game and it is not easy to get carried away with all the mechanics that the game offers us, but once you manage to enter the rhythm of the clashes you will begin to alternate dodges, parries, loaded shots, injectables and abilities of your drone in a satisfying and adrenaline-filled mix.
We do not hide that the level of challenge is very high and death will often be around the corner, so be prepared for a tough adventure if you decide to venture to Jericho City.
By defeating the enemies it is possible to accumulate the so-called “technological waste”, thanks to which it is possible to level up at the Med Bay (health recovery stations similar to the Souls series bonfires). By leveling up you can improve statistics health, stamina, battery efficiency and finally unlock new slots to be able to equip passive skills that guarantee various kinds of aid.
Level design and technical side
The Surge 2 comes with a classic game structure in which exploration is free, although during the early stages you will be forced to advance in a fairly linear manner.
It is easy to think during the first hours of the game that the title is limited and "closed" from the point of view of level design, but as you advance in the game you will begin to unlock shortcuts, secret passages and new ways of getting around through Jericho City.
Only then will you be able to appreciate the excellent work done by Deck13, as the development team was able to create a city full of connections and completely interconnected in an intelligent way.
During the explorations of the futuristic dystopian city you will come into contact with several secondary characters who will entrust you with additional missions. In terms of plot they are not a useful addition, but completing these missions will allow you to explore the various environments more deeply, allowing you to browse the ruins of Jericho City.
From a technical point of view we find one mediocre graphics quality, which never particularly stands out but which at the same time does not look bad. The models of the various enemies and bosses are more cared for than the rest of the environment, too bad for the terrible quality of facial animations which contrasts sharply with the rest.
Another problem we encountered was the camera management which, during the boss fights against the biggest enemies, gave us some problems. Fortunately, nothing too invasive or that would affect the enjoyment of the game, but risk dying from the camera it is never too pleasant.
The title is dubbed completely in English and the voices turn out to be of sufficient quality, due to the fact that no character ever seems to be too enthusiastic or particularly interested in what he is saying.
The version we played is the PC version as well the optimization seems to have been carried out adequately, given that, apart from a few rare cases, even with the graphics settings at maximum the framerate has almost never dropped below 60 FPS.
The soundtrack it is an excellent accompaniment throughout the adventure and always manages to be pressing during the most important clashes, though not being particularly impressed.
The Surge 2 is a title that significantly improves the gameplay of the previous one game of the saga but that fails to rise in terms of plot and graphic quality. The work done by the team on the combat system and level design management is certainly exemplary and the title must certainly be given an opportunity even for these two aspects alone.
The sci-fi atmosphere and the suggestive setting they still manage to make the game enjoyable and satisfying, thanks also to the degree of challenge capable of continually stimulating the player.
If you are interested in a soulslike with futuristic hues and do not have high expectations towards the narrative, The Surge 2 is a title that will give you twenty hours of gameplay full of brutal and violent clashes.