The Kraken is The Surge 2’s first DLC package, and this self-contained tale takes place on the washed-up VBS Krakow. The Krakow is a retired airship carrier that has been repurposed as a post-war American utopia, except by the time you board the retrofitted military vessel it has been invaded by pirates… Sentient robot pirates! The Krakow is protected by a multi-limbed AI called CAIN which has been corrupted by the pirates. Your mission is to figure out why the VBS Krakow is washed up on the shore of Jericho City, how CAIN got infected, and find whatever booty the pirates are looking for.
The Surge games never make it easy for you to reach the new areas that the DLC unlocks, so in The Surge 2 if you want to reach the VBS Krakow you need to defeat Metal Armor/Major General Ezra Shields, which is about 2/3rds of the way through the main campaign. At this point you should be strong enough to tackle the enemies aboard the Krakow. Once Ezra Shields has been killed, make your way to Port Nixon and there will be an orange life boat waiting for you in the section before the sewers.
If you’re expecting a DLC package like The Witcher 3 you should rein your expectations in. The Kraken is a fairly short campaign that can be done in roughly 3 hours. This, unfortunately, means the new location is fairly small and once all shortcuts have been unlocked it’ll feel even smaller. However, this is partially counter-balanced when CAIN moves across the level, opening up a section that freshens it up slightly. If you’re familiar with The Surge there are certain assets that feel recycled from the corridors of CREO HQ but as it’s set in the same universe it shouldn’t be too distracting. Another annoyance, which makes the game feel cheap, is Deck13’s consistent use of voiceover as the pay-off for achieving something great. It’s anticlimactic when you’re force-fed a few lines of dialogue after completing the main story arc. It’s not too much to expect more fanfare, is it?
The combat and the plot are solid though. With new armour and weapons to collect I sank more time into grinding than I first anticipated, especially as I was on New Game+. If you’re playing The Surge 2 for the first time I strongly advise completing The Kraken before proceeding to the end of the main campaign as the loot you’ll pick up will serve you till the end of the game. I previewed The Surge 2 and at the time I didn’t have a good understanding of the main plot but since finishing the game I strongly feel The Kraken’s miniature story is worlds better. The problem with The Surge is how spread out the main plot points feel due to hours of fighting, travelling and dying whereas The Kraken’s pace is perfect and feels far better controlled. There are only a small handful of new NPCs but they all serve a narrative purpose that fleshes out the tragedy that as befallen the VBS Krakow, and it touches on ideas that I wish were more prevalent in the main campaign. There are also moments (that I will not ruin for you) that are cinematic, which is a quality I have always felt has been severely lacking in The Surge franchise. However, The Kraken delivered, and it had me laughing, cowering and picking my jaw up off the floor throughout my short adventure aboard the Krakow.
I wasn’t happy in the slightest with The Surge’s cowboy-themed DLC, which is cleverly referenced in the Drive-In cinema on the VBS Krakow as a movie, so it was a welcome surprise and a step-up from The Good, The Bad and The Augmented. There’s a lot Deck13 can learn from The Kraken that I hope to see in The Surge 3 (or future DLC, at least): have more cinematic moments; ditch the VO for quality cut-scenes; focus more on AI characters adapting to a human way of life; and, of course, keep coming up with unique and original weapons!
Should you play it? Yes!
Why… There’s absolutely no excuse to turn your nose up at more content, especially when it’s so delightfully packaged like this. Great story, great combat, great sense of humour, and loads more loot!
But… It is short-lived and there’s much to be desired when it comes to enemy variation. Also, if you’re playing on NG+ you’ll likely breeze through it like a knife through butter.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4.