The Surge 2 Review – The Best of the Souls-Likes

The Surge 2
Deck13 / Focus Home Interactive

It’s hard to underestimate the influence that FromSoftware’s Souls franchise has had on the video game industry. There have been so many copy and paste clones coming out that they have even spawned their own subgenre: Souls-like games. While there have been numerous attempts by other developers to copy the Souls formula, none of them have been successful, with one exception.

Almost two and a half years ago Deck13 released The Surge, which while derivative (in a good way) of the Souls game mechanics, rose above the rest of the cluttered Souls-like titles. The Surge had brilliant writing, a stylish science fiction theme, and interesting dismemberment mechanics that built upon the Souls games.

Expanding on the rather limited scope of The Surge, Deck13 has followed that title up with The Surge 2, which takes place in a sprawling metropolis called Jericho City. After a plane gets shot down near the city, your customized avatar wakes up in a crumbling prison.

The city is a shell of its former self and has most of it lays in ruins. It’s a quarantined zone which has been overrun by nanite storms—swarms of molecular-sized, self-repairing machines that scientists deployed in order to reverse the effects of catastrophic global warming as well as other calamitous events. But instead of being our saviors, the nanites turned on humans and almost rendered all of humanity extinct.

While the most gifted of the remaining scientists try to figure out how to counteract the nanite swarms and avoid total annihilation, you must escape the prison and find out what happened to all of the characters from the first game. You’ll also eventually aid in the effort to reverse the effects of the nanite spread.

The prison teaches you The Surge’s combat system in baby steps—first basic attacks, and then gradually more advanced maneuvers such as parries and blocks. You’ll also learn how the ever-important art of removing the limbs of your enemies, in order to utilize them for your character’s blueprint schematics for use in your arsenal.

In addition to the limb removal system, The Surge 2 has a highly satisfying counter mechanic as well. It’s a little tough to get the timing down, but once you start to get into the flow of things you’ll find a natural rhythm to the mechanics that are addictively fun. Similar to Sekiro – Shadows Die Twice, you must first wear your enemies down and then you can engage in the limb-severing process. If that limb happens to be wielding a weapon, you’ll be able to add that weapon to your repertoire as well.

It must be stated that combat in The Surge 2’s is brutal and unforgiving. If you happen to be going up against multiple enemies and miss a single block or parry, you may find yourself d-e-a-d. Luckily, each foe’s overall combat strength level is clearly indicated on-screen, so you’ll be able prioritize more dangerous opponents as the case may be. While bands of weaker enemies can overwhelm you with their sheer numbers, a single big boss can smash you to smithereens with their raw power.

Most of The Surge 2’s gameplay revolves around exploring Jericho City and fighting gangs, cults, enforcers—all the while trying to get to the bottom of the game’s central mystery. You’ll periodically spot a young girl named Athena, who was onboard the plane when it went down. Is this ghostly girl real? Is she merely a hologram playfully leading you to your ultimate demise? Figuring out what happened to Athena, as well as escaping the city, are your primary concerns.

Visually, The Surge 2 looks gorgeous. Departing the usual hackneyed Bladerunner aesthetic that wore out its welcome long ago, this game has its own dystopian style, with partially destroyed buildings everywhere, enforcers and drones monitoring everything they can, and interesting architectural designs.

Technically, the game suffers from a few hiccups. While moving through small enclosed spaces such as narrow alleyways, I found that I couldn’t locate where certain enemies were. The collision detection of enemies was also a little off, as sometimes I’d avoid an attack and thought they’d run into something and find that they hadn’t. These are minor quibbles though and didn’t detract from the overall excellent gameplay.

The Surge 2 serves as an object lesson on how to take an already established gaming system (i.e. Souls series) and transmute them into something very unique. It has exhilarating combat, an intriguing storyline, and fantastic graphics. If you’re into good action RPGs, you definitely shouldn’t miss this science fiction gem.

SCORE: 82%

The Surge 2 has some pretty nice looking graphics that make its action-based gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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