Developer Deck13 is back with new a game, The Surge, and like their last entry, Lords Of The Fallen, it borrows heavily from the combat and gameplay of the Dark Souls series. Set in a distant future, the game puts you in control of a paraplegic named Warren, who is starting a new job. He has no idea what lies in store for him as he is fitted with an exoskeleton called a “Rig,” giving him the ability to walk again. After his procedure, Warren wakes to find that he’s being dragged around by robots who appear to think he is dead. He finds all of his fellow employees have gone crazy, but the good news is that the operation was a success and he can walk now. Silver lining? Unfortunately he has to fight his way out while learning how to use his brand new Rig. It’s up to you the player to help him survive and figure out what has happened.
At the beginning, players choose from a heavy armored, or faster and more agile Rig. This will allow for players to use their preferred play style. From what I found, agility worked best for me, as dodging came naturally. The Surge eases you into this future world, slowly teaching you how to control and use your new equipment. The beginning will be easier as your first opponents are small, slow, and announce their attacks. Don’t get used to it though. As The Surge progresses, combat gets much more difficult and you will have to carefully plan every move or find yourself dead then running back in hopes of recouping your losses. While difficult, also like the Souls games, The Surge’s strongest aspect is the combat system.
Instead of light and heavy blows, The Surge uses vertical and horizontal attacks, depending on the opponent. If you successfully achieve multiple shots, Warren will perform certain combo moves, depending on the type of weapon you use. When locked on to your opponent, players can then select a specific part of the body to attack. Along with some cool animations, the final blow has several important aspects. First, in order to acquire new and better equipment you will need to collect schematics left behind. Specific parts are gained by cutting off the arm of an opponent carrying a shield for example, or the head, torso, and other limbs to get a particular piece of armor. Second, when players attack a spot that is not protected as well, they do far more damage obviously. Players must decide whether it is worth the risk for certain parts or instead going for the most damage. I found this to be a very interesting and creative system.
Actual leveling, equipment creation, and upgrades take place at the Medbay Center. Basic leveling increases your energy core, and, in turn, affects the total health and durability Warren has. All armor and weapons have five levels, I loved that players can use the same armor throughout the entire game, specializing at they go. This is extremely important, finding your particular play style and planning ahead in combat. If not, death will come swiftly for you. The Surge, just like the Souls games, is rather difficult. Not as frustrating per se, but no walk in the park either. The Surge is also not nearly as long as I would have liked, at about 25 hours for the main story, but much more play can be gained depending on much time is spent leveling and farming for specific parts and doing side quests. There are also lots of hidden collectibles to find and the audio logs can add a bit to the story if one is so inclined to hunt them down.
The Surge is a great looking game. I was impressed with the level of detail and the design of the different bots, mechs, and monsters. The soundtrack and voice acting were also very well done. My biggest complaint was the story and its length. It starts out mysterious enough to intrigue and motivate players, but as I progressed it just got more muddled and I never felt any real connection to Warren. Even the characters you talk to late in the game don’t seem to have a clue as to what’s going on. By the end I was left with more questions than answers. If you enjoy a challenging combat system, a deep customization system, and ever wondered what Dark Souls would be like in a sci-fi theme, The Surge will do the job. I look forward to what Deck13 has in store for players next, I would love to see The Surge 2.
The Surge is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. This review is based on a PS4 copy provided for that purpose.
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