There are a few options of careers when making your character that do a great job at defining the world of Surge 2.
Corporate stooges, engineers made redundant by the robots and AI they helped create, human forklifts and Pinkerton-style union busters all give you an early glimpse at the dark world of the game.
But no matter what you choose, you’ll spend the entire game smashing other people, robots and whatever is between the too with a collection of heavy metal debris.
The Surge 2 is game that couldn’t easily and annoyingly be described as a Soulslike.
Its forerunner was made in the era where dozens of games were desperate to repeat the Dark Souls formula and catch that same notoriety, but where a dozen other series failed, The Surge survived long enough to have a sequel.
And this sequel builds upon the what made the first game so intriguing.
One of these is the setting. Moving away from the dark fantasy into the dark future, where megacompanies have drained the planet of its resources, the people of their rights, and the governments of their oversight.
Then, like everything else that tries to hoard so much power, something goes terribly wrong and everything starts falling apart. In the Surge 2 that is a huge nanite storm that is infecting machines and augmented humans.
In the ensuing chaos, a cult and a military cabal have also taken footholds in the city.
Fans of apolitical games will be disappointed in The Surge 2 though, as its blends its themes, setting and gameplay elegantly throughout the entire experience.
The city and the companies that control are oppressive, with distractions built to pacify the masses (before a lot of them went mad with the nanite disease), and you’ll encounter defence systems designed specifically to keep out the poor and less fortunate.
This is a dystopia that feels like it was probably worse for the common man before the nanite swarm arrived.
Its also a world that feels touchable, and lets you explore both its far fetched science fiction and its much more down to earth environments and slums.
And while you’re doing all that exploration and soul searching, you get to smash, slash and decapitate your way through a staggering number of enemies. Most of your tools of destruction are construction and utility devices given new life as killing machine.
This means that most of you attacks are going to be slow and heavy, forcing you to time your attacks well and balance them against your need to defend against your opponent.
The blocking system is similar to For Honor, where players have to block in the right direction to protect themselves, and this does add another layer of tension to the fights.
Enemies are strong in The Surge 2, and even a bog-standard goon will put you down in a few hits. Checkpoints and shortcuts allow you to progress slowly through the world, avoiding some of the fights and finding new avenues to explore.
You’ll also be able to loot enemies by removing their limbs, giving you a chance to improve your armour, and salvage their weapons.
There’s a surprising amount of weapons at your disposal and they all feel different, letting you choose a style to adopt, from dual-wielding blades to a really big hammer.
Unfortunately, the upgrade system is difficult to comprehend, and the game’s onboarding doesn’t do a great job explaining itself.
Firstly, the text is small unless you’re close to the screen, and secondly, you’re just overwhelmed with information.
The Surge 2 has its own version of experience points as well as crafting materials but its hard to work out what you need and how to get it, even hours into your adventure.
The UI for the entire game is quite cluttered and often you have more fun by just ignoring it and focusing on the fighting.
But while fighting your way through the streets, offices, and parks of Jericho City is great fun, the bosses are a bit tedious. They have one too many tricks up their sleeves and just slightly too much health.
The first boss you fight, a prison warden, not only has a drone that occasionally shoots are you and fire grenades that take some time to learn to avoid.
Later bosses have different collections of abilities and while being surprised by one or two is fun, getting killed by a boss who uses a special move you’ve never seen despite a dozen previous attempts is just frustrating.
These moments grind your progress to a halt, occasionally forcing you to wander back through the area grinding for upgrade material if you’ve worked out how to collect before trying again.
It’s a shame because otherwise, The Surge 2 is an interesting world, with good enemies worth of exploring.
THE VERDICT: The Surge 2 – 3/5
– Reviewed on PS4
Surge 2 improves upon the predecessors ‘Dark Souls but sci-fi’ vibe with a much more interesting world and social commentary.
But the series still feels a little rough around the edges when it comes to communicating with the player. Menus are awkward to navigate, and upgrades and systems can be a little hard to comprehend.
Despite this, the combat is still great fun, and exploring Jericho City is an intoxicating blend of excitement and trepidation.
• Weapon variety is good
• Locations are varied and interesting
• Exciting heavy hitting combat
• Bosses are a bit of a grind
• UI is cluttered and hard to understand
• A lot of unexplained systems that just sort of sit there