Prior to booting up The Surge 2 my only previous experience of any kind of surge had been once when I put too many plugs in an outlet and blew all the fuses. Going in to The Surge 2 I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. What I found was a decent, if difficult, action-RPG that does a lot of things right, to the point that it’s easy to overlook the bits it gets wrong.
Having never played The Surge I was pretty much going in blind, with no clue as to what was going on. The intro does a good enough job of catching you up with events, before your character wakes up from a coma and, after a bit of character creation that serves no real purpose other than a bit of avatar customisation, the game begins. The first few minutes serve as a decent tutorial, briefly introducing you to the back-end systems and controls, and more importantly the combat. The Surge 2 is fairly combat heavy, but more on that further on in this review.
As you make your way through the complex you have awoken in, it is clear something has gone wrong. The complex itself is falling apart around you, and fellow escapees are looting and generally being up to no good. During this introduction you find and equip yourself with some pretty basic gear before you encounter your first of many bosses that are all trying to smash your head in. It is here the game begins to explain how levelling up works and how to upgrade your equipment in the process. Defeating enemies awards you with scrap that can then be used to charge up your equipment at the Medbays you find and unlock on your travels.
Nothing here is new or exciting, it’s the familiar grind by defeating enemies in order to get stronger and up your various stats. One thing that is apparent is The Surge 2 is tough, something I discovered fairly early on. As I said, combat is a core component, and I was pleasantly surprised at the level of depth and tactical diversity it presented me with. I won’t lie, the first few bosses kicked my arse until I was able to master all the components at my disposal, and in doing so I felt like I had actually achieved something in the process. The game is forgiving enough in that each Medbay also serves as a checkpoint, so should you die you will restart from the closest one you have unlocked.
Not only that, but any tech you had collected before your demise will be waiting for you where you fell – if you can get there quickly enough to pick it up. This serves a useful purpose in that it allows you to upgrade your gear should you encounter an enemy that is just a tad too tough, with you being able to repeat this cycle to get a tidy stack of tech. While not being useful enough to grind and become overpowered, I found The Surge 2 has actually done it in such a way that it is a real benefit as opposed to a game breaking bug or exploit. A few times I found myself repeatedly being slain by a boss, but through determination and this cycle of slowly collecting tech as I ran from the various Medbay checkpoints to my doom multiple times allowed me to slowly level up my character enough to defeat them, and instead of feeling like I had cheated I felt elated at finally kicking their ass.
As I mentioned earlier, The Surge 2 is no walk in the park when it comes to difficulty. Combat is unforgiving, and what starts off as a pretty basic combat system has you relying on your wits and understanding of the systems at work in the background. Attacking is mapped to the right shoulder buttons, your main offensive abilities being a horizontal or vertical slash. Dodging and blocking are covered too, and a drone for attacking from distance, and that is you pretty much covered for combat.
Simple enough on paper, but The Surge 2 allows you to target specific parts of an enemy – need tech to upgrade your gear? Aim for their weapon. Maybe you need to upgrade your implants which serve as your abilities? In that case aim for the head. Fancy some gear that your enemy is wielding? Cut it off them and use it for your own ends. Combat is brutal and enjoyable; simple to pick up and play, but tricky and difficult to master.
Not only that but take it from someone who learned the hard way – in order to make progress you must utilise all of the tools at your disposal. Simply button bashing will not get you very far at all. Dodging, looking for openings, attacking and using your implants in order to overcome enemies all must be used tactically, and that was something that both surprised and impressed me. Yes it is difficult, but I found that the combat and the slow drip feed of tech as you make progress balances out so that you do feel like you are progressing and getting better, even if you find yourself getting impaled, beheaded or dismembered every now and again.
As for the story, you pick up bits and bobs as the game goes on. Early on I was intrigued enough to keep progressing, with the game drip feeding me enough information through conversations and audio logs to keep me interested, and I didn’t really feel like I was missing out by not having played the first game. In fact, my time with The Surge 2 has me more interested in picking it up to fill in the lore and better understand the events that have led up to this point.
This is true for the world in which you find yourself, with The Surge 2 taking place in the walled city of Jericho. Quickly the game opens up and allows you to explore the city, encountering some friendly (and some not so friendly) NPC’s on the way. It is here that The Surge 2 occasionally falls down, with some not great voice acting or clunky dialogue, but that was so minimal it didn’t do much to impact upon my enjoyment.
The Surge 2 is a solid and enjoyable action RPG. For fans of the genre there is plenty to get your teeth into, from the difficult but rewarding combat, intriguing story, or satisfying levelling and experience systems that slowly but surely make you feel like a bad-ass. Reviewing The Surge 2 has definitely scratched an itch I didn’t know I had, and at the same time I am keen to pick up the original game and see what all the fuss was about the first time round.
The Surge 2 PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8.5/10
The Surge 2 nails hack and slash combat with tactics and finesse in such a way that you feel rewarded when you overcome a particular enemy or boss encounter, with an added layer of RPG goodness that allows you to refine and master your play style.
- Brutal but rewarding combat that is simple to pick up but difficult to master.
- Intriguing world that is fun to explore
- Deep experience and levelling up systems that make you feel powerful without being over-powered.
- A silent protagonist that doesn’t really make you feel like he is much of a character – just a mute that selects various dialogue choices
- The graphics aren’t anything to write home about with some of the gritty locations feeling a bit drab and repetitive – but I am being picky!
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.
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Stuart has had a long and lengthy love affair with video games, since he first woke up to find Santa had left him a Sega Master System complete with Alex the Kidd built in no less. Since then, his thumbs have become calloused and he has missed many a nights sleep in the pursuit of those elusive “5 more minutes…” but his love has never wavered.