Deck 13 is a developer that has been in love with the Dark Souls games for as long as I can remember. They've been around since 2002, but look back to their previous work and I couldn't tell what they made before 2014 when they came out with Bad Souls....err Shitty Souls...no wait...Fallen Souls...no Lords of the Fallen, that's it. Yeah Lords of the Fallen, a Dark Souls clone that was not a great game all told, but it wasn't an absolute abomination. I mean it was a bad game, but you know....it TRIED.
Their next attempt was the Surge, taking the logical step that everyone who was a Soul's fan was asking for and moved the Souls formula into a Sci-Fi world. And frankly this game was pretty damn good. It offered enough unique things to the Souls-genre that it stood out as something original. Sadly the game still had a lot of problems. For example the map sucked, being basically a ruins sci-fi place it made everything look the same. Metallic hallways for ages. Additionally it had balancing problems with a few enemy types. The first problem was that there weren't many types, and that the robots were fucking impossible to read which caused difficulty spikes.
This year's attempt in The Surge 2 does a lot to fix these issues and as a result it is a very very good Sci-Fi Souls-like proxy.
Namely the map. The Surge 2 takes place in a city section that has districts and alleys and streets that all wind around each other, doubling back to places, and leading to vertical places you wouldn't expect. The map goes everywhere and because you aren't locked in a single facility the locations vary up extremely quickly. From city streets and alleys, to a harbor district and a strip mall. The map impressed me pretty quickly when there were four shortcuts that wound back to the very first "boundfire/medbay" in the game.
Then there is the combat, which like the first game allows you to target parts of an enemy to break off specific pieces. Breaking off a piece from an enemy results in a badass and gory execution animation which has not gotten old in over 5 hours of dismemberment. And it's not just for gore either, you cut off parts of armor so you can get those parts for your self, which is how you gear up in The Surge. Unlike in souls games where weapons and armor are basically lying around, in The Surge you have to take your gear from enemies. The first time you sever a new part from the enemy you'll learn how to build that part of armor, additionally farming that same piece will get you parts that can be used to upgrade that armor.
And that is what becomes the basic gameplay loop, you find new enemies with new armors and proceed to murder them horribly over and over again until you get all the parts you need for that set (or the higher quality parts to upgrade the set of armor you like). Speaking of sets, every armor set provides two set bonuses. Of the six pieces of armor, you get a bonus at 3 pieces equipped and 6 pieces equipped. These bonuses end up being game changers in terms of how you play the game. Even the early sets of armor appears to have viability all the way to the end game. Which means that you can find the set you like and stick with it until the end.
So the combat is great, it's tight and responsive, and the exploration is good. The Surge 2 must be perfect then right?
Well, no. Deck 13 still has problems with enemy placements, in which enemies pop out of places where the player would have no possible way of seeing them until they've popped out and maybe taken a chunk of your health. Additionally they seem to place too many enemies together, especially big melee enemies along with enemies with guns. Which can make some trash encounters tedious and rely on cheese tactics to kill them.
Additionally the game runs like shit on consoles, with loads of texture pop in and long load times for area transitions. Though the frame rate seems.....ok for consoles I guess. On PC it runs great for me with the one exception being it takes my system a LONG time to boot up the game. But once it's booted it's fine.
All in all The Surge 2 is pretty good. It's like Deck 13 finally figured out not only how to make a decent Souls-like but also add their own voice to the genre to make something truly great.