The Surge comes to us from developer Deck13 Interactive who also developed Lords of the Fallen. Both games have a Dark Souls-esque gameplay feeling to them and a similar play style. More and more games are being made with this souls-esque gameplay that I’m surprised a genre for this style hasn’t been coined yet. Alas with its similar play style does The Surge deliver or does it fall short?
Our protagonist Warren arrives at a futuristic looking train station to begin work for this future savvy tech company where mech suits seem to be at the forefront. After you’re given control of your character you will notice that he is wheelchair bound. This was also the first game in my entire life where I’ve controlled a character in a wheelchair, small detail that surprised me. Anyway after leaving the train and finding the way to go, thanks to some soldiers standing just outside the train, I find myself having to make a choice on what type of mech suit I want to use. A more faster moving agile suit, or a bulkier tank like suit. I chose the more agile suit for speed. After I chose my preferred suit I was welcomed to a very impressive looking cutscene that made me thankful I wasn’t Warren. As Warren’s suit was applied to his body with what looked like something out of a horror movie. Warren screamed as the suit was applied and I had to look away as it certainly was quite graphic.
After that violent introduction, I found myself waking up in what looked like a scrap yard, this was the introduction to the combat and some of the games enemies. Combat of course is very souls like, each swing of my weapon or use of dodging during combat drains my stamina bar. You can attack with a light or heavy attack and as you progress you find and unlock new weapons. Weapons much like your suits armour can be upgraded. Upgrades come via the use of scrap that you acquire after defeating enemies, all that comes from careful use of your stamina as you progress. Apart from the stamina bar there is also a new bar here coloured in blue and this shows your energy level for using executions. This builds up over time and leads into another new section of the game that makes up a large part of The Surge. You can target certain parts of an enemies’ body; armoured or unarmoured. Whether they be its arms, legs, torso or head. Once your meter is filled up you can use an execution to end the fight quickly and possibly severe an enemies body part. It always pays to attack an enemies body part that is armoured as there is a high chance they will drop. What it drops is parts for different sections of armour that can be created and give you more protection.
Upgrades also require tech scrap to create and this is all done in OPS Centres spread about on various levels. Visiting the Gear Assembly within the OPS centres is where you go to upgrade your suits armour. Next to the Gear Assembly is the Medbay. Here you can refresh health, also any health stimpacks you may have on you and you can increase your core power with tech scrap. Core power is your level. It is the centre for pretty much everything that you can do with your suit. All armour and implants that you have on you use core power. So always make sure you farm enough tech scrap to increase your core power so that you’re always ahead of the game.
Something new here is the enemies. You’ll find yourself coming up against machines. Some easy and some incredibly powerful. There are of course human enemies as well some with the same suits as you and some are heavy tanks. You find these enemies have a certain pattern to their attacks so combat can get a little boring at times as it basically becomes a dance that you do over and over again.
Boss battles are present here but aren’t so much the big spectacle that Dark Souls or Bloodborne has them shown to be. They have their own shut off area once you initiate the battle so there is no outside interference from other enemies.
I was impressed by the level design as well. I never found myself lost and always felt like exploring even though I knew by doing so I might come across a much stronger enemy. There are also short cuts that you can unlock by using your suits power or opening locked mechanical doors by overpowering certain power poles nearby.
Graphics & Sound
The Surge is a solid looking game, levels are beautifully presented and while at times feel more claustrophobic and locked in than say Bloodborne where you had large sprawling castles and plains in the foreground. Sure, you couldn’t get to them but it made the world feel much larger. The Surge however is a well detailed game with level design that is easy enough to find your way around, chances are you’ll never find yourself lost and if you do it won’t be long till you find the right way to go.
The Surges protagonist Warren isn’t a silent one either as you will come across moments where you speak to a fellow survivor Sally who is held up somewhere safe waiting to meet up with you, there are dialogue options and questions you can ask so it makes your connection to your character feel stronger than any character I’ve played in this style of game before.
The Surge is great and offers an alternate less darker tone for fans of this style of genre. Its Sci Fi/Mech theme opens this style of gameplay to fans of a different kind. The Surge in my opinion is a step up from Deck13’s Lords of the Fallen and is one fans of this genre should definitely give a go. Most definitely a welcomed surprise.
The version reviewed here was the PlayStation 4 version