With the rampant popularity of the Soulsborne series, there are bound to be developers inspired by the format to make their own games. There’s nothing wrong with reiterating on a great idea either, and The Surge is a by-product of just that.
Following the lukewarm reception of Lords of the Fallen, Deck 13, much like From Software, have raised the pace of the combat by moving it into another environment. Yet, not quite Victorian London, The Surge opts for a futuristic Exo suit laden dystopia.
Swapping flintlocks for drones with guns and industrial sabres, The Surge mixes fast paced gameplay with a sleek aesthetic. Easily one of my favourite things about this game is the way it looks.
Deck 13 have done a fantastic job building environments that match the cyberpunk vibe and manage to do quite well with a limited palette of production facilities, bio labs and other industrial locales.
From dark underground corridors to deserted planes covered in noxious fumes, I enjoyed the varied level design for most of the first half of the game. However, this feeling fades as the game chugs along, making me pine for the open space often seen in Dark Souls.
Swapping flintlocks for drones with guns and industrial sabres, The Surge mixes fast paced gameplay with a sleek aesthetic.
It’s claustrophobic, and whilst I did find myself cooing over the gorgeous effects and textures, the dilapidated machine carcases and hazard covered walls eventually worn thin, and I felt like I needed some air. Deck 13 must be praised for the way they’ve made normally dull environments brim with vibrance, even if it eventually becomes tedious.
In terms of enemy and boss variation, you will fight a lot of the same exo-suit grafted blokes with either big hammers or small, faster weapons for most of the game. This is broken up by drones and some Metal-Gear-Ray looking enemies that add some spice into the mix.
The bosses leave a lot to be desired and are rather generic. There are only 5 in the game, a far cry from any Souls game, and they don’t really innovate or do anything special. They’re all mainly larger than you and have a certain exploitable gimmick like fire attacks or being bipedal.
The games smooth visual appeal complements the gameplay and zipping around an enemy in solid 60 FPS is a delight. I barely suffered any frame drops beyond scripted sequences that were intensive, and this never truncated the high-octane action that makes The Surge a lot of fun.
There are classes of weapons, with two-handed metal wings sharing a stage with a more reserved sabre and an almost wolverine-esque pair of claws that look like they’ve been ripped straight from a forklift truck. This creates variety in the combat, and due to the games leniency on character builds you can and should play how you want, adapting to each situation as it comes.
You upgrade your core power to get more base health and defence, but also slots for your implants, arguably the most important part of the HUD. A cool innovation comes in the form of a modified version of Bloodborne’s vials.
You can choose to have a number of injectables in your rig suit, ranging from an instant health boost to a ticking time regeneration unit, but the game also lets you choose damage buffing injections, and even one that rewards you for attacking, building up enough energy to allow for a stim, which, purely on muscle memory alone reminded me of Starcraft.
The games smooth visual appeal complements the gameplay and zipping around an enemy in solid 60 FPS is a delight
The combat is truly bespoke and a delight to tinker with. Hacking and slashing your way around the shop is tense and fresh, especially for Bloodborne fans who enjoy the speed.
The only drawback I felt was blocking, and whilst the way I was playing the game meant that I wasn’t doing it often, this action always felt like it had half a second of unfortunate input lag when I was mid-brawl, leading to some deaths that didn’t make me want to go back for more…
Whilst none of the music really gripped me, the sound design must be appreciated. Performing the wonderfully satisfying executions and hearing the clank of metal during battle is excellent, and it provides the weaponry with an awesome feeling of power.
Speaking of the executions, the game uses a clever mechanic of targeting certain parts of an enemy to steal their weapon or receive the materials necessary to craft their armour. The crafting system is also really nicely fleshed out, and you can work to create your own character despite not being able to choose the man behind the machinery.
Performing the wonderfully satisfying executions and hearing the clank of metal during battle is excellent, and it provides the weaponry with an awesome feeling of power.
The story didn’t grip me, and that may be due to the cutscenes and lack of reserved narrative storytelling that I’m used to from a Souls game. It’s more clear cut in The Surge, but certainly not its strongest suit or focus, that being the blood pumping sci-fi combat.
Overall, The Surge works hard and certainly manages to emulate and graft some of the fun of a Souls game into its own delightfully designed universe, and it will surprise you with a number of innovative quirks. However, the game falls short in a number of key areas that ultimately make it a purchase that fans looking for a developed Souls experience may want to mull over.
This copy of The Surge was provided by Bastion PR representing Focus Home Interactive. Our Editor-In-Chief Jordan Oloman spent 16 hours making onomatopoeic superhero sounds with a jerry rigged plane wing.