#REVIEW: The Surge 2 (PS4)

The PS5 hasn’t made an appearance yet, and I did a test drive by Best Buy earlier to see if it was reasonable to get the new TV brought out, and it … was not. I might take another shot at it after dinner, but I’ll probably just wait until tomorrow at this point. I did put The Surge 2 to bed last night, and it has the distinction of almost certainly being the last game I’ll beat on my PS4, since the PS5’s backwards compatibility is pretty universal so there won’t be a need to pull this console out of mothballs if I decide I want to go back to something.

Short version: 8/10, solid but occasionally garbagey. The Surge 2 takes the Soulslike tradition of losing resources on death, mild RPG elements, and punishing difficulty and sets it in a cyberpunk/nanotech future sort of world. As basically everything I play nowadays is a Soulslike of some sort (and the first game that graces the PS5 is going to be the Demon’s Souls remake) this was more or less right up my alley.

Strengths: weapon and armor variety is awesome, and the armor pieces in particular are interesting; each set has six pieces (two arms, two legs, body and head) and they can be mixed and matched, and each set also has a bonus if you’re wearing three pieces of it and a bigger bonus if you’re wearing six pieces, and the bonuses are different between sets– so you find yourself wearing three pieces of one set and three of another a lot. Weapons are varied enough that I never kept one for very long, although I definitely found myself gravitating toward the spear- and staff-class weapons by the end of the game, which both had good range and were fast. Nothing really looks like anything else, though, which is great.

The combat in general was one of the game’s strengths, although there’s a directional block mechanism built in that I never really got the hang of, and timing on blocks in particular felt sluggish a lot of the time. That may just be me, though as timed-parry mechanisms almost always give me fits, but I swear a lot of the time I’d hit block and my dude just wouldn’t. Sometimes that was due to being out of stamina, but by the end of the game my stamina pool was so huge that that was rarely an issue and I still had a hell of a time with timings.

The story is … fine. I never played The Surge and I never got the impression that I needed to; the sequel is completely standalone.

Less good: boss fights are challenging but repetitive, the game was buggy (I don’t remember the last time I had a game hard crash to the desktop, and this game did it six times) and level design was kinda samey and I had a hell of a time finding my way around. They did a good job of different levels wrapping around and connecting to each other in lots of places, with lots of shortcuts and secret passages and such, but the game’s color palette and overall look just didn’t really vary all that much from place to place, and there’s an event partway through the game that rips up the old map and throws it away, and after spending as much time as I had exploring and trying to figure out where everything was, having all that knowledge stripped away from me was really annoying. The trophies also seemed sort of buggy, and I’m convinced that I earned one of them that never popped for me at all.

The game also does a sort of cool thing after the credits roll where it shows you a bunch of stats that compare you to how other players did, both in terms of how many deaths and playtime in levels and to bosses. This was neat but I’d rather have had access to it in the game. There’s also a new piece at the beginning of New Game + where you pay through something that happened offscreen in the first playthrough, which was kind of neat.

This has been out for a while (every game I review has been out for a while) but if it slipped your radar and you are into this kind of game, it’s worth checking out.

Published by

Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.