After a countless number of deaths, my hero was fully geared out in some hefty rig parts with the Jackdaw equipped in each hand. Cutting through swaths of lowly survivors, I’d racked up some three thousand scrap parts to upgrade my core level. Clearing out one final section before turning back, I found a few pieces of loot to grab in a corner. As I approached, a familiar beeping rang out from all sides — bomb drones. I didn’t get a swing off, and just like that, I was dead again. Now, I have to fight back to that corpse.
Such is a typical run in Deck13’s newest game, The Surge 2. In a dystopian future where everything’s gone to hell, and people fight using exoskeletons, The Surge’s sequel picks up exactly where the original left off. Though not much of a story was present for your main character in the demo, most other aspects will fill immediately familiar if you’ve played the original. The Surge 2 is still very much a game heavily inspired by Dark Souls. It has the complex battle mechanics, a similar system to souls called scrap, and costly deaths that may set you back an hour if you aren’t careful. Every inch of progress is earned through tactical combat and devout patience, if not just a hint of luck.
That’s not to say The Surge 2 doesn’t establish itself as something special. As a character equipped with a futuristic Rig, you have heightened strength and speed, able to wield a variety of weapons with relative ease. Weapon choices range from standard swords and fist weapons, up to massive drills and electric pylons, each with their own specific move sets. Upon entering combat, you’re able to target specific body parts of each enemy. If you damage that particular body part enough, you can end battle through a special finishing move that will sever the targeted limb clear off. Along with looking impressive, the enemy will also drop that specific rig blueprint so that you can build and equip it for yourself. Though the mechanics fit into the burgeoning “Souls” genre, the action has a certain speed and finesse that’s much more rewarding through loot drops and the vicious slow-motion kills.
The combat goes deeper, though. You have three separate resources to manage as each fight progresses: health, stamina, and battery power. Stamina is used to make attacks, dodge, and block, while the battery power stores uses of your injectible. The injectible was used as a healing potion throughout the demo I played, similar to the flask in Dark Souls. However, it seems like the full game may have other uses for this slot. Though there is a block button available, I found myself jumping and diving away from enemies far more, as blocking would only mitigate the damage while simultaneously decreasing my limited stamina. Once the stamina meter runs out, it’s a relatively slow wait before you can attack or block again. Your rig loadout can also affect stamina drain, so I built my kit to fit a more jumpy playstyle.
The Surge 2 has a stern learning curve that demands some experimentation early on. I spent most of my time testing out different builds since I kept dying out in the field after one or two scuffles. Finding something that worked for me was both satisfying and generally rewarding once I found the correct rhythm. Luckily, the game introduces new weapons and Rig gear at a steady pace to keep things exciting but not overwhelming. With such polished and fun combat, it’s easy to overlook the bare-bones plot that keeps you moving through the stages. The world is certainly going to hell here, as environments are mostly destroyed cityscapes, save for a few key areas.
Getting up to the final boss of the demo was a task all on its own, but the boss fight itself felt like a true test of what I had learned up to this point. Learning the patterns, diving in and out of melee range at the right moment, and keeping my patience even when I was close to victory were all necessary to pull off that first win in a game with much more to offer in its full release. Though it was just a taste of what’s to come, The Surge 2 shows great promise in a ridiculously difficult package. If you’re one to love some cutthroat combat, this is definitely a game to look out for in September of this year.
Preview code provided by publisher
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