Two years after The Surge hit the stores, the German developer Deck13 and the French publisher Focus Home Interactive resume their partnership to bring us The Surge 2, a sequel that takes us to the city of Jericho, where we will relieve some of the threat that took over CREO facilities in the previous title.
But now, this threat has covered the city in the form of a plague of nanorobots – or nanites, namely ‘the Defrag’ – taking over the population. Robotic beasts roam on the streets while a dark and mysterious cloud covers the sky. A suspicious religion promises salvation to its followers, while on the streets people consumed by these nanites wander the streets, eliminating whoever passes by. The government placed a huge wall around the city in an attempt to stop the plague from spreading – whereas the survivors find themselves forgotten by the rest of the world, abandoned to their own luck. But everything is about to change when a plane crashes in the city outskirts. Inside the plane, only one survivor: you. Days after the accident, you wake up inside an abandoned prison. And here begins our adventure through the chaotic world of The Surge 2.After creating your character, you find yourself locked inside a prison under attack by strange creatures while the inmates who escaped their cells slaughtered the prison employees. Only when you find a way to install an exo-rig in your own body, you find a way to fight them back – and escape this hell of a place!
What do you do? The Surge 2 is a sci-fi Souls-like game with focus on exploration and equipment crafting. Steal parts of you enemies exo-rigs to build parts to use on your own while you explore the city of Jericho in search for answers and a way to escape this nightmare.
- Visuals: With impressive visuals from the moment you first start the game (I simply love the particle effect Deck13 uses in their logo), The Surge 2 really impress! If you have an Xbox One X, you can select between the Performance mode (prioritizing FPS) or the Visual mode (that gives emphasis to the resolution), but they are both spectacular. I usually opt for the Performance mode over the resolution mode, but it’s a personal choice. Rest assured that both modes will show you an insane level of detail of a city in ruins that feels very believable. Roaming the streets and observing wreckage, outdoors, posters and graffiti on the walls are mesmerizing. And the light, oh boy… Deck13 may have some magicians between their developers. This absurd level of detail is also present in character models, with superb animations (especially the gory animations that involve dismemberment… more about it later) and great facial expressions. Each set of equipment or weapons you or your enemies use can be easily distinguished thanks to an over-the-top quality. I’m truly awestruck with the quality of the work of this Studio.
- Sound: The visual aspects are enthralling – I’m sure you already got that. But the effort of Deck13’s sound department doesn’t fall behind. With great sound effects that give us a good sensation of how much weight your character and your enemies carry around and a remarkable dubbing performance, the sound is really well served. Hmmm? What about the music? Yes, it’s there and it’s also very good, but not as astonishing as its other components.
- Slice and dice! Deck13 didn’t skimp on violence in this title – and I’m really impressed with what they delivered. The mechanic of targeting different limbs, one of the main characteristics of the original The Surge, is back – and better than ever! While targeting an enemy, you can select different body parts (head, body, left and right arm, left and right leg) to focus your attacks on. If there’s enough energy in your suit, when your enemy’s health is low, you can dispatch him with a brutal animation of your character dismembering that body part! What makes it even more interesting is that there’s one animation for each body part and each weapon type, granting some more than welcome variety to these finishing moves! And trust me, you will be executing these final blows a lot since this is the way to acquire new weapons and equipment. Seeing an interesting new piece of armor in your enemy? Target that body area and you will get the blueprint to build it in one of the MedCenters. Fancying that new weapon your enemy is using against you? Tear his arm holding the weapon off and you will get it upon defeating them. And now we mentioned weapons…
- Your arsenal: If you are a player who enjoys RPG, equipping your character will be a pleasure for you. You can equip parts in your exo-rig that enhance your durability and your fierceness. The equipment is divided into weapons, implants and armor. Your weapons are composed basically by blunt and bladed weapons divided into categories such as lances, staves, axes, sword-like and rigged weapons. There are few additions over the already vast arsenal of the first The Surge, the most interesting I’ve seen so far a 2-hands staff that, when used in quick attacks, can be split into two 1-hand blades on the fly (it turned out to be my favorite weapon so far). The implants can give you some sort of boost of special ability (like seeing the direction of your enemy attacks, allowing you to parry them). The armor parts can be forged from blueprints and components from dead enemies. Equipping a full set (composed by six parts: head, body, arms and legs) grants you a bonus inherent to that set while equipping half the set (3 pieces in any combination), grants you a slighter bonus. Equipping implants and armor parts will require core points, the energy generated by your exo-rig core. You must always keep one eye on the energy consumption of the parts you equip not to exceed its capacity.
- Exploration: Although the map of Jericho doesn’t look very large, each area you delve into feels huge, with lots of secrets to be unfolded. NPCs will give you side missions that go from the trivial finding something or someone to taking care of debt collectors, with many others to be discovered. These side quests grant you some extra scraps, making them a great aid in the evolution of your character. But the exploration comes along with a concern of being attacked by a group of enemies or a single enemy better equipped than you. If you are one of those players whose hands start sweating when nervous, you better play with a towel always close to you.
- Hardcore game: Adventurers of Jericho, listen to me: The Surge 2 isn’t for the faint of heart. Even less for those who get angry with a game. This game is tough. Like really tough. The combat is challenging and punishing. The bosses are not only huge and intimidating, maybe even more than in the first game. This excessive difficulty may intimidate some gamers, driving them away from this title. This is a game that targets a very specific public: the Souls-series fans. You have been warned!
- Did you say farming? You will find yourself constantly farming for resources and blueprints to build the best protection for your character – and trust me when I say: you will need it! And here lies the aspect of the game that makes everyone angry: the experience points (in The Surge 2, scraps) that are used to level up your suit and equipment. At the beginning of the game, levelling up your character and gear requires only a bunch of scraps, while in later levels (or to reach the top tier of your apparatus), you will need a lot of it. And since the MedCenters you use for upgrading or to store your scraps is usually far away from each other, the chances of falling in combat with full pockets are constant – increasing the sense of danger in each encounter. And when it happens, you will be back to your last checkpoint with a countdown to reach the place you fell. If you succeed, your scraps will be there waiting for you. If you didn’t reach them in time or if you fall in combat again, they will be lost forever. And maybe your controller will end up hitting the wall…
- Camera curse: The Surge 2 also suffers from something I call “the camera curse”. What is it? Well, it’s when a camera usually takes the worse possible spot to be in a critical moment. And as every encounter here is critical, this curse manifests itself with a frequent nuisance when fighting in narrow spaces, making it another tough adversary. I lost my count of how many times I fell from the edge of a cliff or was surprised by an enemy who attacked from behind. I hope this little issue can be solved in future updates.
The Surge was a good surprise back in 2017, pleasing reviewers and gamers all around the globe. And now in 2019 we have an awesome sequel. One that improves all the aspects of the original game, without losing core characteristics. Yes, the similarities with the games of the Soul-series is obvious, but it has enough individuality and quality to shine on its own – and how it shines! With gameplay, graphics and sound that places it between – if not above – most of the AAA this generation, fans of the original game or gamers who enjoy a challenging game have enough content to rejoice with The Surge 2.
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.