It would be easy to dismiss it merely as a novelty, as other peripheral-based games certainly have been in the past. But that would be doing a disservice to the ingenuity with which the designers have found a way to get players to try out a workout routine and, even more impressively, stick to it.
While it isn’t a flawless experience and absolutely refuses to hold the player’s hand, it does manage to set itself apart by virtue of its unrelenting difficulty, all while telling a story that comes closer to Lovecraftian fiction than many of its contemporaries.
With a time-traveling story, turn-based combat system, and cast of characters that could have been lifted from such classics as Chrono Trigger — complete with robotic party member — it’s a shame that it is ultimately let down by an unengaging narrative, extremely tedious gameplay loop, and a combination of a lack of challenge and crushingly high encounter rate.
The Surge 2 is like a juicy, metal-plated bone that gamers looking for a well-crafted yet brutal combat experience can really sink their teeth into: it will push them to their limits, hurt and punish in all the right ways, but offers that sweet, sweet payoff when you finally emerge victorious.
Originally conceived as DLC for the game’s Switch port, the franchise’s catalog of celebrated musical compositions and Nintendo’s unusual interest in lending its crown jewel to an indie developer quickly turned Cadence of Hyrule into a standalone entry that somehow manages to combine the best of both worlds.