The Surge 2 is here but, sad to say, I had never got around to playing the first Surge when it came out. To me, it seemed like one of those games that just pop up on the shelf with little to no fanfare. After finding out more about it, I came to learn it was by the same studio as Lords of the Fallen, a game of which I did play…for about 10 minutes before turning it off because of how bored I was quickly becoming with it. So now I know that Surge combines the formula of a Souls/Borne title with a sci-fi setting. So how does a sequel to a game I didn’t even had already been out for two years fare with me? Actually, it’s not too bad.
I’ve never been too fond of the Souls/Borne games due to their reliance on punishing difficulty and near-endless retrying (I know, I know…”git gud” as many will say) but I felt some of that was due to the clunkiness of those games’ combat systems. Yet, even though your character carries some pretty hefty weapons as well as a sturdy, mechanical exo-rig, combat doesn’t feel like a slog.
If there’s one thing I enjoy doing in games, it’s ripping apart my enemies. Akin to a favorite title of mine, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and just like the first Surge, hacking up your foes for weapons and armor is pretty satisfying. Sure, you can’t slice and dice them into tiny little pieces like Rising, but getting that successful parry and watching your foe’s body parts fly off in slow-mo as you take that fatal swipe at them more than makes up for it.
It sort of reminds me of how I felt while playing Days Gone, a game I felt was essentially an open-world Last of Us. Despite that, the game had a satisfying gameplay loop that kept me from feeling like I was wasting my time. That’s not to say there weren’t any times during Surge 2 where even the dismembering couldn’t excite me (though those times were rare).
Unlike the first game, in Surge 2, you can now create your own character (skin, gender, what have you) to play as in the ruined Jericho City. Though, a personal gripe I have with games that feature character customization is that they tend to make my character, this avatar I slaved hours tweaking to my liking, a mute who maybe grunts or screams. It may not bother some people but I’ve been spoiled by game like Mass Effect and Dragon Age Inquisition where my created character has full dialogue (funny enough, the first Dragon Age game also had a mute character aside from grunts). Again, that’s just my personal gripe. At the very least, there are plenty of weapons and other bits of gear to tinker with to your liking.
That being said, while we have seen many “futuristic wastelands” in games like Nier: Automata, The Surge 2 at the very least does add some variety to the places you’ll visit. Yes, you’ll come across the obligatory abandoned factory, but you’ll also be visiting some natural locales as well which pack a bit more color to than what we normally see in these desolate settings.
The game also is pretty easy on the eyes. While playing, you’ll earn experience and items to craft and augment your character and weapon with. Of course, the higher your level goes, the higher quantity of items you may need to obtain to craft them. This unfortunately can diminish the smooth gameplay loop as it’ll start to feel more of a grind to obtain them, especially if you want all those boosts. Also, beware of dying. There’s a risk/reward aspect where there is a rewards multiplier that rises up every time you kill an enemy until you return to a safe area; as such, the more you kill, the higher your scraps total will be. If you die however, there’s a timer that shows how long you have to recover your loot before it’s gone.
Now, it’s not absolutely amazing by any stretch and there are some technical hitches you may come across while playing, though, what game nowadays isn’t launched with a few hiccups? I suspect an update or two will iron things out, but in any case, if you’re looking for a game that has a decent gameplay loop and can give some inkling of enjoyment (especially with the dismembering), you can’t go wrong with The Surge 2.