Deck 13 has come to be known as the From Software of the west. Rightfully so, seeing as their previous title Lords Of The Fallen, was very similar in many ways to the Dark Souls franchise. The Surge, has built upon the groundwork that they laid in that title and created a punishing action-RPG set in the future where enhanced-humans and robots are the norm. Does Deck 13 learn from their past and create an engaging and fulfilling experience in The Surge, or does their sophomore effort lack originality.
The Surge, has players take the role of Warren who looks to apply at CREO, an advanced company where many of their employees use exoskeletons to work which help productivity and compete with robots in this dystopian future. In this future, the world is on its last leg and machines do many of our work related tasks, so many humans require exoskeletons to be just as good as these robots. Upon choosing his rig, Warren is shocked by ‘the surge’ which causes many of the robots to malfunction and causes him to be fully conscious as they operate on him to install his rig, he soon passes out from the pain and awakens with no signs of humanity left at CREO. He must embark on a mission with his newly installed rig and find out what happened to all the workers as he travels deep within the facility and finds out exactly what caused ‘the surge.’
The Surge, manages to set itself apart from the competition and array of Souls like games, in several interesting ways. Sure, veterans of these types of games will know to dodge and time their attacks with every new enemy which will require studying and getting a lay of the map down like the back of your hand. There’s a few curve balls in there though, as some enemies require you to duck and jump instead of just simply dodging away, otherwise you lose an opportunity to parry their attack. Not all of the combat is meticulous though, as players will be able to gain new weapons, armor, upgrade scrap and items from enemies drops, but more specifically recycling.
Once you target an enemy, you have the ability to cycle through various body parts, humans have the obvious, head, body, legs and arms. These can come in two types, blue, or a yellowish orange. The later raises the probability of the enemy dropping the severed body part you chose to recycle and be reused by Warren, as either scrap or by creating a blueprint to create one for himself back at the next base. After enough damage is done to the selected part, players will have a prompt to sever the selected area, which occurs in a joyful and bloody slow-motion scene. If you continue to hack at the enemy instead, you potentially lose whatever he may have dropped.
Tech Scrap is what you gain by killing enemies. After you gain so much, you can return to your base/Medbay, and use it to upgrade the Core Power of your Rig, which is basically your overall level in the game. It can also be banked here, and used later in the game or to upgrade specific armor or weapons at the Gear Assembly. Implants are found throughout the game and can also be dropped by enemies. Implants are like perks, but you can only install as many as you have core power consumption points. Let’s say you are a level 10. You have 10 core power points to consume. If two different implants that say, raise your health cost five core power points, you won’t be able to equip any other implants. As you progress you will unlock more points with leveling, as well as more slots for more implants. These can be very helpful, like gaining health every time you sever a body part, or adding more overall health to your health bar. It should be noted that unlike other games of its type, The Surge knows you want to get your tech scrap back if you die. To hasten the player, it starts a 2:30 timer that once it hits zero, the scrap is gone forever. It also leaves forever if you die again before reaching it, but that is common practice in games like this. The bright side is that if you continue to kill enemies, a multiplier stacks the tech scrap you earn. So with every kill, the stakes become higher.
Traversal is a key part of The Surge. Players will enjoy finding new ways around and coming across new enemies, but every enemy conquered gives a sense of accomplishment. Every level achieved gives a sense of pride. There is a wide range of weapons, from staffs, to claws, hammers and even sword like objects. Each handles differently in its own unique way that offers players a lot of variety in the combat. Each weapon type has its own proficiency to level up as you use it, as well as ability to upgrade back at Gear Assembly. So players are able to find what works and upgrade it accordingly.
New game plus offers fans an even more difficult challenge with harder enemies, but also higher end gear and enemies with random gear sets. New game plus continues indefinitely with increasingly better gear, and tougher enemies. It offers the most die-hard fans a lot of potential replay value, to what is already a time consuming game.
In the end, The Surge is a worthwhile game for action-RPG fans looking for a tough challenge. The story starts out small, but gradually draws the player in with side-quests and other survivors that you find. Warren is a fairly quiet protagonist, but the sense of accomplishment of progression will cause the player to want to see him succeed. There is no easy road in The Surge, but every road offers variety and fun throughout the length of the game, as well as a new game plus for those who manage to make it to the end.
The Surge is a fun and engaging action-RPG for those wanting punishment in a brightly colored futuristic environment. It changes up the formula used by other titles in its genre and for the better. Variety is the spice of life, and that spice is peppered throughout The Surge, from its varied weapons or the many severed limbs and heads of your enemies. Deck 13 has crafted a memorable and engaging title that makes me wish that they never stop doing what they are good at, hardcore, controller smashing games that allows the player to feel accomplished at every enemy that falls to their feet.
8.5 Severed Limbs Out Of 10
Release Date: May 16th, 2017 (US)
Available Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Deck 13
Disclosure: The Surge Was Provided By The Publisher For Coverage Purposes