It’s remarkable how many games have come out in 2017 that have stunned me with how good they are. The one that took me by surprise so far is The Surge, the latest game from Deck13, who developed Lords of the Fallen in 2014.
The Surge builds upon the systems of Lords of the Fallen and takes cues from From Software’s Souls series by complimenting ramping difficulty, with responsive combat and a fun, brutal combat system.
None of this game could take place without the exo-suit you’re given at the start of The Surge, without you don’t stand a chance in a futuristic industrial zone where everything wants you dead. This suit is an extension of Warren, our protagonist, who goes through a painful surgery to walk once more.
Like the Souls series, there is some thought to the madness before you, and each area is creative, full of things to look at and full of colors that stand out, as you make your way through maintenance shafts, hangars, and med bays.
The story isn’t much to talk about, that’s not what these types of games are about, but what potential there is for a semblance of a story is lost early in the opening hours, often falling on typical tropes of the sci-fi genre. Basically, CREO, a company trying to help humankind has created less than stellar conditions for our hero, Warren, the man arrives as part of a recruitment program, and soon after, all hell break loose, as you can’t go too far without having something want to kill you.
Much is learned through audio logs, passing along tidbits to divulge, but the developer’s fumble here as I lost interest in what was happening story wise, with each philosophical question about humans and technology, you don’t get answers that leave you satisfied.
What caught my attention was the dismemberment system you may have seen advertised, providing satisfying ways to down enemies in gruesome cinematic bliss. By doing so, you find parts for your exo-suit, attacking an opponent arm may yield armor for you, head gear for attacking the head, and so on. What this does is provide exciting ways to engage enemies that have high risk, high reward.
ththIn Dark Souls, you would alternate between either light or strong attacks, managing your stamina and dodging the best your opponents, with The Surge you’re trying to beat your opponent with similar attacks while building your energy bar, this allows you to dismember body parts.
Combat is the meat here, and while not as good as a Souls system, provides a challenging engagement that keeps you on your toes. What detracts is the enemies you face, often undead in exo-suits, drones and the like, but, make no mistake, even mindless machines can kill you if you don’t prepare and watch yourself.
Dark Souls has bonfires, The Surge has med bays, here you can craft new parts for your exo-suit, as well as upgrade weapons and gear. The issue I found is that the implant system is messy and overly complicated to use, as implants often grant bonuses to Warren, with three categories: Hot Swap, Injectable, and Hardwired acting as buffs, consumables, and items that can only be changed at a med bay. It takes some getting used to and leaves much to be desired.
This leads me back to the dismemberment attacks offered here when you cut an enemies body part off, you’re given the schematic for the part instead of the actual part, something that feels off, and backward.
Another item of note is the difficulty spikes you’ll encounter in your roughly 15-20-hour game, some areas greatly vary in difficulty and often it happens in such an abrupt way, more times than I’d like to say this caused me to die and drop and my tech scraps because I didn’t expect that onslaught I was up against.
The Surge is in no way a bad game, but, there are some bad decisions that hurt the final game. No backtracking, no armor from dismemberment, and the difficulty spikes frustrate me, with some improvement any potential sequel may succeed in an entirely new way. Deck13 have great ideas, now it’s time to implement and fine-tune the experience.