THE SURGE 2: THE KRAKEN DLC REVIEW – Ain’t No Walk In The Park
Developed by Deck 13
Published by Focus Home Interactive
Available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One
If you’re wondering why I’m coming out with a DLC review a whole month after the DLC dropped, might I direct you to whomever the fuck at Deck 13 decided to put The Kraken 14 hours into The Surge 2. Guys, I thought we had figured out how to do souls-like DLC. You put it in relatively early in the game (around the 25% mark), but make it difficult enough to ward players off until they are ready. That way, returning fans can easily jump into an NG+ file and get to the new stuff quickly. It’s the most elegant solution, and won’t make people furious when they push through 70% of your campaign for just 30-minutes of content.
I had high high hopes for The Kraken. I’ll admit, possibly too high of hopes. The Surge 2 was a fantastic game, bringing the franchise from decent knock-off to legitimate contender. It even made my Game of the Year list. When I saw that The Surge 2 was getting the season pass treatment, I put aside my usual skepticism. Even though the $20 content bundle seemed to be mostly new gear, my eye was on the story expansion. Though the first The Surge was mediocre, the A Walk In The Park DLC was phenomenal. It took everything good about The Surge up to 11, and even fixed a lot of the pacing issues and oddities of the main game. So with The Kraken, I wanted to see how they could take an already great The Surge 2 to even more dizzying heights.
Needless to say, I was eager to get cracking on The Kraken. I was just starting my weekend at PAX South when it launched on January 16th, and I spent the weekend wondering what awaited me in the world of sci-fi dismemberment. When I finally got home, I hopped on the internet and took part in the souls-like tradition of checking the wiki to find out how to actually access my new content. I was shocked to find that The Kraken is only accessible after acquiring the lifter hook. More specifically, you access the DLC from Port Nixon right before entering the Cathedral of the Spark. That is after beating Major General Ezra Shields, the world exploding for the first time, finding the Delver Echos, and beating Brother Eli (again). There are only four bosses left in the game after that, and I am generously considering Goddess Helena a boss. If you haven’t played The Surge 2… then why are you reading a DLC review? But for the theoretical one or two readers that just like my writing style, it’s a good 8 hours into the game even if you’re very good at it.
So I grinded for a few days between my other work (DLC for The Surge 2 isn’t exactly the most important thing on my to-do list, even if I am a huge fan), had some fun trying out a twin-rigged build, and finally managed to make my way to The Kraken. Accessible from that little islet where you first see the memory of Athena encountering A.I.D. in the toxic waters, a little boat is now there waiting to take you to the new content. You hop on and are transported to a little island. In the distance, the massive VBS Krakow looms. You ride a zipline up to the gargantuan decommissioned aircraft carrier, and the whole time you drink in the scale of what you’re about to encounter. Engulfing the ship in massive tentacles is some kind of robotic octopus, the eponymous Kraken. Truly, this must be a massive and harrowing adventure.
Upon landing on the Krakow, you find yourself in the pleasant company of a friendly bloke named Norm. Norm is just grilling hotdogs in his yard, a picture of idyllic suburban life. He’s aware that the ship has been overrun by robo-pirates and that all his neighbors are dead, but there’s nothing he can do about it. So might as well just sit back, grill some dogs, and wait for some heroic adventurer to come and save the day. Norm is my favorite part of the DLC. Norm is cool. Norm can stay.
You quickly leave Norm’s garage and find yourself on the deck/streets of the overrun VBS Krakow. Surrounded by ruined homes and murderous pirates, you begin your mission of fighting your way through the hordes to stop the AI that caused this whole mess. You find out that the giant octopus engulphing the ship is called CAIN. An AI designed to protect the Krakow, Cain has since merged with the entity known as The Collective and decided to side with the pirates. He now sits atop the ship, scanning the streets for intruders like the Eye of Sauron. If you fall under his panopticon gaze, nearby enemies will be alerted and his tentacles will spawn dangerous robo-crabs.
So far, so badass, right? You’re running through ruined streets juxtaposing the peaceful suburban life of the techno-future with the horrible reality of the nano-machine apocalypse. The enemies are pirate robots with skulls and crap shark attack dogs. Some of the pirates have broadside cannons, and there are giant pirates with huge extra-large skulls. It’s all delightfully flavorful and challenging. You fight through the first street, then another, and then face the comically easy Collective Incinerator mini-boss. You then fight through another street, do a fight in a drive-in theater (a hilarious addition for a town built on a boat), and the next thing you do is fight CAIN. And then it’s over. All said and done, the whole thing took me 90 minutes. And that’s with all the collectibles.
This is an absurdly small amount of content. It would be a fun free update. Maybe a $5 adventure alongside the new gear. Not as a $12 DLC that’s the cornerstone of a $20 season pass. I would be extremely upset if I still paid for my own video games. For your $12, you get 90 minutes of new content, 2 new boss fights (one of which doesn’t feel like a boss), three new implants, two new armor sets, and 11 new weapons. Of those weapons, only two feel worth hunting for. Once you finish the DLC, you can redo the theater fight if you want. But there’s no real reason to return.
It’s not that The Kraken content isn’t any good. The new enemies all look great, and there’s enough variety to keep things fresh. There’s a lot of personality in the new characters, adding some brevity to the ultra-serious The Surge 2. Its got some of the comic glory that made decapitating junk-food mascots in A Walk in the Park so memorable. You might have guessed that Norm is anything but Normal, and you come across a malfunctioning robot that just wants to chill. There’s even a communist vending machine! These are all things I like. It’s just a woefully insufficient package for the investment, both financially and the time it takes to get to it.
The Kraken is too short, just like this summary.