With the first The Surge, Deck 13 tried to propose a different soulslike than usual, even light years away from that Lords of the Fallen which represented for them a first approach to the genre made famous by From Software. The developers tried to give their product a well-defined identity, distancing itself from Dark Souls’ medieval dark fantasy to present a futuristic cyberpunk-style setting to the public. The result was average for a series of reasons that we know well; therefore with The Surge 2, after listening also to the community’s opinions, Deck 13 fixed some of the most obvious defects and corrected the shooting, working on a basis and on ideas that were already indisputably good.
The story of this sequel begins exactly where the ancestor’s had ended, and with respect to the past it is set inside the crumbling Jericho City , theater of the disaster of which you will be witness. The unnamed protagonist, which you can actually customize with an editor who is not very exciting and has few options, is the victim of an unfortunate event: a sudden storm causes the plane on which he was flying to crash, but the man manages to survive , however losing the memory and awakening in a metropolis wound by a disease originated by nanomachines.
Inside a dystopian city on the verge of collapse, divided into nine interconnected sectors to explore and in which to unlock shortcuts and alternative roads, you’ll find yourself dealing with crazy machines and enemies with grafts and exoskeletons.
The design of the maps is broader and benefits from more complex and well-connected structures; however, progress is often linked to obtaining some useful devices to unlock areas that were previously unreachable, which is why there is a bit of backtracking to contemplate. The use of magnetic elevators, of the exo-cable that acts as a cableway and of a drone module able to open doors, make that a map of not considerable dimensions is however wide thanks to its labyrinthine nature, where it is not always easy to navigate.
The approach to level design in The Surge 2 was different than in the first chapter: the urban setting allowed more choices, greater verticality and less linearity. Despite this, many of the areas appear to be uninspired, extremely generic and with very few elements capable of catching the eye. Especially at the beginning, thanks to the inability to clearly diversify certain scenarios, it seems to have to do with the same artificiality that attempts to compensate for the lack of ideas typical of the first chapter. The only real alternative valid for the settings is represented by Gideon’s Rock , consisting of a mix between a lush forest and ultra-technological facilities.
The combat system of The Surge 2 has been further refined and has retained the best elements seen in the previous chapter. The possibilities of personalization have grown out of all proportion and if you see something on an enemy that can do for you, you can literally tear it away and take it after dismembering the victim: weapons, protection for each limb, for the bust, for the head, complete with individual upgrades and bonuses in relation to the affinity of the equipment.
Not only is it possible to target the different parts of the body, but it is still – more than before – a fundamental element of the combat system, to the point that some clashes revolve exactly around this feature, with a couple of boss fight decidedly more successful than others . In this regard, it must be admitted that half of these proposed enemies are rather banal and with poor stage presence, incapable of making themselves memorable even in the hasty manner in which they are presented and are finally beaten. Others, evidently better studied, succeed instead in satisfying and offering a good rhythm and a rather high challenge.
The other novelty of The Surge 2 is represented by the directional parades, which increase the technical rate of the gameplay and induce to act with greater attention and promptness of reflexes. Through one of the grafts that you will find at the beginning, you will be able to see in real time from which side an attack is coming, so as to keep the parade and direct it from the right side. You need to do it with good timing, so as to unbalance even the most dangerous enemies; against some of them, however, it is necessary to divert their attacks more than once, so as to immediately put themselves in a position of advantage. We specify that it is not a founding characteristic as it is in Sekiro, and that only in certain battles it turns out to be decisive for having the best with fewer worries of mind. Alternatively, performing the inevitable dodges followed by counterattacks is always among the best tactics you can adopt.
New arrangements, new possibilities
The most noticeable element of The Surge 2 is undoubtedly due to the wide range of customizations made available: the player can really build the build that best suits his style of fighting, choosing whether to focus more on speed, brute power or so-called middle ground. Furthermore, the careful selection of the implants chosen for the implant system, together with the logical combination of the partial builds, can give bonuses to health, stamina and other functions.
The modular drone also comes back , customizable with different attacks and functions: turrets, molotovs, simple bullets, disturbing actions, ability to open doors through electrical impulses and much more, for an even greater depth that will be useful again during some more difficult battles . The basic weapons or those that you will tear to your opponents, can vary their nature when you apply them to upgrades, while the efficiency of the battery should never be underestimated as it can really make a difference in terms of supporting the health of the protagonist.
Although The Surge 2 supports upscale 4K resolution on PS4 Pro and on Xbox One X , there is very little to get excited about on the technical side. We tried the game on a standard PS4 and the textures were often not very inspired, sometimes in low resolution or with a layer less than expected, while at other times they give a mixture effect to the terrain. There is also heavy aliasing at full blast, and in general the appearance of The Surge 2 lags behind both the productions of the moment and those of a couple of years ago. The New Game Plus it makes small changes to the campaign, which can be completed in over thirty hours: there is a short sequence playable inside the plane, before the crash; some enemies of the second part of the game will acquire more body parts as more games are played, while more powerful enemies will tend to replace the basic ones to increase the challenge rate.
Ultimately, despite the obvious improvements, the addition of the directional parade and a more careful approach to the design of the levels, The Surge 2 manages to fully improve the previous chapter, but it does not make that miraculous leap forward that could have brought it closer to the giants such. The work of Deck 13 is certainly more ambitious, complex and enjoyable than that of two years ago, but it is not enough to be defined as memorable as the more prominent titles held.