An Ode to The Surge 2's Healing System

Being a big fan of the original The Surge, I, of course, was very eager to pick up the Surge 2 and overall 15 hours in, I’m really enjoying it (I’ve yet to finish though so please appropriately tag spoilers). There are many things I could talk about both where I feel the game succeeds and some of its not insubstantial number of flaws though I want to focus specifically on the health system specifically b/c I think it’s one of the big reasons the game works for me and is a massive improvement over its predecessor.

For how it works is in order to heal you must build up an energy bar by attacking an enemy and then use said energy to heal (or bank a limited number of heals for later). This system was in the original Surge as well however it always felt like an inferior backup to the Estus flask equivalent (which are seemingly gone in the sequel) in the first game due to their default high energy cost (which is greatly reduced in the sequel). Overall I feel this works wonderfully. This means that technically the player has potentially unlimited healing items, however, it makes up for this in part due to the maximum number of healing items a player can store at any one time is actually very limited compared to Bloodborne (The Surge 2’s closest soulslike comparison). I think perhaps my favorite part of this system is how it creates all these tense situations where “I have a sliver of health left but I just need to get a few more hits in this enemy in order to heal again.” In my opinion, this works especially well in the boss fights where even if initially you do extremely poorly and waste a lot of health there’s always this feeling that you can turn the tide. I can understand why certain soulsborne players would not like this system since it does addmitedly make the game easier but for me who is a mediocre soulsborne player it makes the game less difficult in all the right ways and I really prefer this specific health system to anything found in From Software’s titles. But anyway I’m curious to hear all your thoughts not just on the healing system but also on The Surge 2 itself if you want.

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This sounds analogous to the Hollow Knight system where you’d bank mana from attacking which is used for spells or heals.

I think either approach is valid, though it can depend on whether the game wants you to really explore an open space (in which I think healing should not be finite) or is interested in a more gauntlet-style challenge (i.e. first half of Dark Souls 1, which was basically “here’s your healing budget, get to the next checkpoint”). We don’t see that latter one very often these days, but it can allow designers to make encounters less lethal without making them trivial.

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