Dean Abdou reviews The Surge…
The Surge is an action RPG developed by Deck13. The game is designed in the challenging role-playing game style of the Dark Souls series. The players use a newly developed exoskeleton to battle the enemies throughout the game. The exoskeleton can be customized using “modular upgrades” and the combat system allows players to target each different body parts of enemies, as well as utilizing finishing moves for some amazing dismemberment.
The Surge takes in a dystopian future where mankind has exhausted the world’s resources, which has led to a strained social service and environmental diseases. Deck 13 has made a game which paints a grim portrait of the future where the evolution of technology in relation to society and the environment has led to a decadent era for humanity.
When you first start a new game on The Surge you are greeted with a prologue detailing the world that you’re being brought into and teaching you a little about Creo, a huge tech company that wants to make the world a better place. Once the prologue is done playing you wake up on a shuttle heading to the main Creo headquarters.
You quickly discover that your character, Warren, is actually disabled from the waist down and is in a wheelchair. After learning the basic controls you arrive at Creo and can begin moving around this world. Yes you indeed move around in the wheelchair, something which you don’t see much of if at all in video games. It was definitely very interesting moving around this world in a wheelchair. You’re free to roam about if you like or you can head straight to the registration office where you can pick which kind of exoskeleton you would like to use throughout the game, you can pick the more agile lynx suit or the more heavy hitting rhino suit.
After you choose your exoskeleton a small cinematic film begins showing Warren having this machine grafted onto his body and it is quite a graphic sight. My only question during this scene is how does one take of his clothes now and get dressed? That was the only real pressing issue here. After the short cinematic you are thrown into the wider world of The Surge. Once you discover the first respawn point you are given free will to wonder about, find new tech and battle all the enemy AIs you come across. Through your progression you’ll also advance story wise and so goes the game.
As has been stated by many others out there this game draws a lot of comparisons to Dark Souls offering a very similar gaming experience to that but set in this new dystopian future. There isn’t a solid objective or waypoint to this game, it’s just up to you to find where you’re supposed to go and to take on everything that comes in your way. For some out there who have never played Dark Souls there’s no need to worry. The game takes you through its new mechanics step by step.
For the combat mechanics with all the weapons that you come across you have the ability to either use light attacks or charge up for a heavy attack to deal more damage on the enemy. You also have the ability to lock onto enemies in combat and you can even pick certain body parts to target. For example you can pick to target an unarmoured part of one of the enemies to bring them down faster or alternatively you target an armoured part so that after you bring down the enemy you can get the schematic for that part. You can also block attacks as well but when blocking you won’t be able to move around which I found can be quite a hold back. When you’ve got an enemies health down to a certain point you can perform a finishing move and this varied from weapon to weapon. The finishing moves were quite enjoyable to watch and to see the different ones that each weapon had to offer.
In terms of the general movement mechanics along with the standard movement you also have the ability to strafe/dodge which is something quite useful in situations where you quickly need to dodge an enemy attack or if you just need to run away. You can also sprint and use that to jump onto higher platforms that you find throughout the map.
With the environment in the game you’ll find that there will be a lot of closed areas and to unlock them you need to level up the power core in your suit. If you’ve got it to a high enough level you can send an electrical surge through the system to unlock these doors and areas.
You will discover that there is a lot of options for the player to choose from in terms of exoskeleton parts, weapons and implants. The Surge offers a wide variety of tools for the player to mix and match together offering a really unique gaming experience for each individual. Of course as stated earlier, when you first start off the game you have a choice between a light exo suit or something more heavy hitting. For my playthrough I went for something heavy hitting.
When you finally come across the first Medbay in the game this acts as your save/respawn point within the game. Here you can craft new gear for your exoskeleton from the schematics you’ve collected, upgrade your power core which lets you install more implants and you can also upgrade your weapons and armour. Upgrades are made using scrap that you’ve collected throughout the game along with any other parts that are relevant to the item you are upgrading. The same goes for when you are creating new items from schematics that you’ve found.
To add more of a challenge the game, every time you die you only 2 minutes and 30 seconds to run to your death point to pick up the scrap. The countdown begins as soon as you’ve left the Medbay area. This is a nice mechanic to keep the player on his feet and really build up the adrenaline but it is heartbreaking in moments where you get lost on the way to finding your scrap and ultimately end up losing it all.
Enemies in The Surge are quite varied. You have your machine type enemies which range from small drones to huge autonomous drills, then you have your zombified exoskeleton enemies which range from small slow hitting enemies to some really speedy and huge enemies. Depending on what you have equipped and the tactics you go for you’ll find that these enemies are relatively straightforward to take on. Finally you have your boss type enemies that you come across at certain points throughout the games and these are the guys who are just a killer to bring down hence them being bosses.
The Surge is a highly enjoyable game. The amount of options the player has from upgrading certain parts on your exo suit to the combination of implants that you can have equipped really offers a unique a varied experience. It is a very open world and there is a lot to explore in this new dystopian future. With that being said the game does have its downfalls with some of its mechanics such as being locked in attack animation and not being able to cancel it to avoid certain hits.
Any fans of the Dark Souls series may find themselves enjoying this, or possibly even finding it a bit too similar with nothing really new to offer. As for gamers, especially fans of action RPGs, who haven’t played Dark Souls at all you’ll definitely enjoy The Surge and I would recommend picking up a copy.
+ Enemy AI are really varied so it didn’t feel to repetitive
+ A lot of options for gear and weapons
+ The finishing moves were really funny to execute
– The map and environment looked too similar in each area
– The blocking feature was really unhelpful when it freezes your character in place
– Not being able to cancel an attack animation got me killed quite a few times
Reviewed for PS4 (also available on PC and Xbox One)
The Surge is available now.