The Surge Review – Dismembering Your Next Weapon

Focus Home Interactive’s and Deck13’s science fiction RPG The Surge is ready to be powered up. Is the game worth your hard earned cash, or should it be tossed out on the scrap heap?

Read on to find out.

Deck 13’s The Surge is a brand new IP that started development back in 2015. The developer came right out and said the game is similar to Dark Souls and Bloodborne, both of which are hard-core and unforgiving RPGs that can be frustratingly difficult but insanely rewarding to play. The Surge follows that same overall pattern, but does so in a surprisingly fun and entertaining way, just don’t expect to find out much of the backstory.

The game opens up sometime in the future when our planet is in some serious trouble but the CREO Corporation is out to solve it. You play as Warren, a young man that enters into employment with CREO as an exoskeleton wearing worker. You’ll have to choose between two types of suits, The Lynx or the Rhino, with each having their own unique sets of abilities. The Lynx, or field technician, uses an agile and versatile design that gives the wearer more freedoms of movement, while lessening their defense and attack capabilities. The Rhino, or heavy operator, is designed to be more of a slower brute force type of suit that can dish out more damage and take more hits. Your gameplay style will be determined by the choice you make.

Once you’ve made your choice, Warren is sat down in an operating chair so as to add his exoskeleton to his human body. What happens next is right out of someone’s nightmare, but we’ll let you experience that for yourself when you play the game. Once you wake up from your ordeal, you find that the exosuit you are wearing isn’t 100% in working order and you are in some old, run down looking medical bay.  The med bay, or Operations, is fully functional and now becomes your central location for gameplay and will be your respawn point every time you die, which will be often.

That’s pretty much it for the story the game gives you to begin with. There is no quick map at your disposal (there is one in the med bay though), no real HUD to speak of, and you’ll have to use your exploring skills to find out anything else the game wants to teach or tell you. Keep an eye out for lost audio files as these are the key to finding out exactly what happened in this place and these audio files aren’t always out in the open. Look for wooden crates that can be smashed or hard to reach areas.

Once you venture out into the game area, you’ll encounter other folks with exosuits as well, and all of these folks are hell bent on your death and destruction. Their suits are fully functional and complete with all of the parts you are supposed to have and you can use that to your advantage using the attack and targeting system. With the PS4, press L3 to lock onto an enemy and then use your right analog stick to target a specific body part or weapon. You can attack with either a vertical or horizontal method (R1 or R2), but either way keep an eye out for the prompt for the square button while attacking. Once the prompt appears, hold down square and you’ll chop off whichever part you were targeting and gain a schematic for it. This is the only way you’ll be able to get all of the gear your suit needs and you’ll also be able to grab new weapons as well.

As you take out the bad guys you’ll also earn tech scrap. This scrap is needed to upgrade your exosuit and to craft the armor schematics you’ve found and to build a suit that will, hopefully, keep you alive for more than a few battles. You’ll also find implants lying around that will give you the ability to heal yourself or give you energy boosts and these can be inserted only in the med bay. If and when you do die, any scrap you are carrying will be dropped at your death location and you’ll have a limited amount of time to retrieve it. Scrap can be banked at the med bay, so if you are close to it, you might as well drop some off, just remember that anytime you enter the med bay, all of the enemies are re-spawned.

The Surge is a very unforgiving game in that no matter how strong your suit has become, any of the bad guys can take you out if you aren’t careful. Heaven forbid you get double teamed as that is almost always an instant death. The bosses for the game are no joke either, and figuring out the best pattern to defeat them takes trial and error, and by trial and error I mean dying a lot. The game can go from wanting you to quit playing and delete it, to wanting to come back 15 minutes later to try and take that boss out again. Once you’ve taken that boss out though, there’s a sense of accomplishment that you don’t get with most games, and that is the ultimate draw for The Surge.

Deck 13 set out to create a title that plays like others, but in the end they created a title that goes beyond them in terms of gameplay and creativity.