The original The Surge from the Germans from Deck13 was a rather controversial project. The game was immediately (and rightly) dubbed “ Dark Souls with Robots” and, despite the beginnings of a decent game design, the project was brought to fruition: the developers were unable to bring their ideas to mind, to present them in a quality manner. The announcement of the sequel inspired hope that from the second attempt the studio would work on its own mistakes, but, alas, it turned out almost the same thing – in places with the same problems.

The beginning of the game meets an incomprehensible philosophical video: an off-screen voice in an important tone broadcasts that robots cannot become better than people because they are created by them. Then we are shown a no less obscure accident in low orbit, due to which the plane with the main character crashes in the vicinity of the city of New Jericho. Next it turns out that the protagonist is the only one who survived this plane crash, but he spent the last two months in the infirmary, lying half-delirious; judging by the voices of the doctors, the patient constantly recalls some kind of anomaly and a strange girl who was never found at the crash site. And while you are trying to understand what the matter is, the hero finally comes to his senses from a piercing scream – an invisible well-wisher warns him of mortal danger. Which one? What difference does it make, no time to explain!

The character editor (which we find ourselves literally in the middle of the prologue) is rather modest: despite the abundance of options, there are few blanks for facial features

If you played in the first part, then instantly get comfortable in The Surge 2 – the sequel inherited the battle almost without changes. We have two types of attacks at our disposal: horizontal (light) and vertical (heavy), and both can be additionally “charged” by holding the attack button for a long time. But, as before, if you just hit anywhere, there will be little sense: the whole essence of the combat system is in attacks on unprotected parts of the enemy’s body. Visually, it resembles the VATS from Fallout 76 , except without zoom. The enemy’s hand glows yellow – it means there is armor on it, but if you tear off the limb of the enemy, you can get additional resources or a new item. Glows blue – there are no armor, like rewards, but the target takes more damage in this area.

The battle itself is simple and follows the canons of soulsborne: dodge, combine attacks, cut off arms, legs, heads – thanks to spectacular animations, this process really captivates and manages not to bother for hours. In addition, as before, resource management is woven into this mechanics: by striking, you accumulate energy, which goes just to the “fatality”.

The bad news is that, even if in the end you get tired of sawing enemies into pieces, you can’t get anywhere from the dismemberment – otherwise you won’t get new weapons and the schemes necessary for crafting. And without armor and improvements you can’t go far, even with perfect knowledge of the combat system. This is the main difference between The Surge 2 and its predecessor, and from the Souls-series – it is almost impossible (and not really necessary) to pass on only one skill. Here everything is decided by the level and equipment, as in any Elex .

Take at least the first boss – an enraged police officer. Even in comparison with his father Gascoigne from Bloodborne, it seemed to me terribly difficult … Exactly until I decided to collect more scrap metal, pump it and improve the weapon. Judging by the context, this battle (again, as in Bloodborne) should teach parry mechanics, but with sensible pumping no tricks are needed – the battle ended after a minute by pressing two buttons and a pair of evasions. If you take a heavy air beam and improve it a bit, then your deafening attacks will simply kill the need to block something and take risks there.

In addition, it’s almost impossible to understand and predict the behavior of opponents. If in the same “Souls” they have a certain rhythm and pattern, then there is nothing like that – the enemies act randomly. If you start to fend off, you can prepare for one attack, and instead get a whole series with finishing. How should a player predict that the same animation leads to different hits? No way.

But even if you get the hang of reading opponents, this, as I have already said, makes very little sense: as soon as the level of the hero exceeds the average location, you can safely forget about half of the combat capabilities. The game turns into a meat grinder, where you endlessly knock out loot in order to destroy opponents even faster and collect better loot from them. Active skills are often useless, and the player, having found the most correct tactics, learns nothing more. Only one way out – ruthless grind.

Implants (that is, passive and active skills) and chips play a rather large role. If in doubt, then pour everything into the volume of health and treatment – you will not lose

Fortunately, grind is not the most tedious. In the pumping system there is nothing superfluous – as a loot only improvements, scrap metal (local currency), schemes and weapons. There are only three characteristics: health, endurance and battery efficiency (in fact, this is a scale for some skills and fatality), and along with the character’s level, the number of energy cells is growing – they limit the number of chips that can be fastened. The latter are somewhat reminiscent of Nier: Automata – their combination can be changed at any time.

The situation is also slightly rescued by a variety of weapons: a shock flamethrower, claws with a saw, a hammer, a dual-purpose ax that can turn into two single weapons in an attack, and … a manual drilling rig. Moreover, there is no sense of “toy” – the weight of the weapon feels just right. Only a small imbalance is frustrating: if there is a hefty two-handed colossus that brings down all life in three blows, then what’s the point of taking risks with very weak, short, but fast fiberglass claws? Except for the sake of thrills – the practical use of zero.

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