The Surge 2 Review

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Eschalon: Book II

Release Date:2019-09-24
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Augmented Systems

Just like in The Surge, Tech Scrap serves as your main currency in The Surge 2. You use it to buy items, upgrade them, and increase your Core Power. The latter acts as your level and determines how much gear and implants you can equip at any given time. As a new spin on this system, each time you level up, you now get two attribute points you can put into your Health, Stamina, and Energy stats. The first two are pretty self-explanatory, while Energy is a bit trickier.

As you attack your foes, you build up your Energy meter. You can then spend your Energy to perform finishing moves or to use your implants, including the ones that heal you. You can also bank some Energy for later use, which creates a system where as long as you keep attacking without getting hit too much in return, you will never run out of healing supplies. This allows for more uninterrupted exploration and improves the overall pace of the game.

The combat system still focuses on methodical stamina-based melee fights, but you can now move while blocking and it won't continuously drain your stamina. On top of it, there's also the directional parry system that allows you to pair your blocks together with directional inputs and if you do it right, such a parry staggers your opponents and increases the damage of your next attack.

Some stronger foes, including bosses, have shield indicators near their health bars, meaning you will have to parry them several times before you get an opening. This adds a certain rhythmic quality to the game's combat. Pulling off a successful directional parry chain against a boss feels incredibly satisfying. But the best part is, if you don't like to play defensively, you can ignore this system altogether and instead rely on dodging and hit and run tactics.

Speaking of bosses. It's not at all a controversial statement to say that The Surge had weak boss design. But the second game, while still not reaching the heights of some of the better FromSoftware fights, is much better in that department. There's way more bosses in The Surge 2, they offer a higher degree of challenge and feel more memorable overall.

Still, the game's main focus when it comes to combat are not the bosses, but the regular enemies you fight while exploring the levels. And those are much more varied in The Surge 2. The game features several factions, each with its own unique flavor, be it deployable turrets and electrical weapons, or heavy armor and energy shields. Some of the enemies are armed with projectile weapons and they aren't afraid to use you for target practice.

And if you feel that it's not fair that your enemies get to shoot you while you clobber their friends, at least you still have your drone, and in The Surge 2, your drone is a force to be reckoned with. The game features plenty of satisfying encounters where you're trying to outmaneuver a couple of foes and chain your combos together without getting hit, while simultaneously sniping turrets and ranged enemies with your drone. Alternatively, some rare limited-use drone modules allow you to just carpet a particularly annoying room with bombs and be on your merry way.

To let you truly appreciate all that, the developers have tightened their combat animations, so now everything looks even smoother than before. The weaker enemies now struggle to lift their weapons, while the tough and experienced fighters will try to trick you and change their attack direction mid-swing. The one big exception to this are the finisher animations. With a more open and vertical level design, there are now too many ledges and staircases, and as a result, enemies tend to fall into all sorts of pits while you're locked in an animation with them, which oftentimes results in some minor visual glitches.

And of course you use those finishers fairly frequently in order to get new gear. Use a finisher on an arm, and the weapon it's holding is yours. Chop off a head, and suddenly you've got yourself a cool new hat. This is The Surge way.