The Surge is the latest project from Deck 13, who have previously released Lords of the Fallen, a rogue-like action RPG inspired by the Dark Souls series. The Surge is the next project from this developer and it aims to solve a lot of the issues that plagued Lords of the Fallen while attempting to deliver a science fiction rogue-like action RPG.
The Surge takes place in a futuristic world where the technology advancement in science has allowed humans to create some strong exoskeletons. The natural resources of the world are also exhausted in this process as time passes and to survive, humans plan to colonize other planets. The game begins with the main character, who is a paraplegic, arriving at a train station to join CREO. The story begins as the main character applies for a job at CREO, the company that manufactures the exoskeletons allowing even the disabled to regain complete control of their body. From there, it is a never ending thrilling ride till the end of the game where the truth behind CREO is exposed.
Considering the setting of The Surge, which is a futuristic world brimming with potential science fiction material, and with gameplay mechanics that are inspired from the Souls series, there is a potential addicting gameplay loop where the player can go through a long journey of killing tough enemies to reap the rewards at a rest point. The game manages to do a good job iterating and improving over the formula set by its predecessor, Lords of the Fallen. The rest point here comes in the form of Medical Bay while the Souls are represented as Tech Scraps that can be gained after killing an enemy. These are then utilized to power up the main character.
Combat in The Surge depends on the amount of Stamina and each hit with the weapon depletes a little amount of the Stamina meter, however it plays out a little different compared to the Souls series. While there are light and heavy attacks to deal damage to the enemies, there is also the possibility to target a specific limb of the enemy leading to surprise attacks against them for spots where their weakness can be found. This is a fun combat system since not only it allows you to focus on the multiple body parts of an enemy, it also rewards the player with loot provided you manage to break them.
There is a sense of dynamic action with quick time events. These are essentially kill moves that can be activated by keeping a button pressed when the enemy is near danger state. It results in a cool looking death animation that is played out, although it is easy to find this kill move repetitive which takes away the charm from it. You can also perform a dodge by jumping around the enemy attack. This is executed differently than a standard rolling dodge. Blocking is present but I rarely used it because of my offensive play style.
Health is managed by utilizing implants that grant health or increasing them. The implants are limited by the exoskeleton and leveling up can increase the amount of implants that can be equipped at a time. The implants can grant new abilities e.g seeing enemy health bars or give stat boosting effects, and they are scattered throughout the world or can be dropped as a loot by enemies. Some of the implants have limited use which means you will have to recharge them again at a Medical Bay. This prevents the abuse of implants otherwise the game would be too easy.
Just like it is the case with Dark Souls, if you get killed in The Surge you will revive at the nearest Medical Bay and have to make you way to the place of death in order to retrieve all the Tech Scraps that you had accumulated so far. The catch here is that it will be time limited so you will get a timer once you die to grab the Tech Scraps as soon as possible otherwise there is a good chance that you might lose them forever. The game allows you to store these Tech Scraps in a bank at Medical Bay so you can opt for this option if you are afraid of losing them.
Make no mistake, The Surge is a pretty brutal action RPG that will take a lot of patience to complete. The normal enemies in The Surge alone can act as mini-boss fights and while there is a lack of enemy variety in the game, the struggle to improve and iterate on each fight is what makes the game fun here. The ability to target a body part and dismember them makes the combat engaging as each encounter plays differently.
The Surge is a a thrilling ride from start to end that is supplemented by a progression system that feels rewarding. The main problem with the game is the lack of variety in enemies and the environment in general has lackluster art-style, which gives the impression the game being repetitive. However if you plan to complete the whole game, it can take you close to 40 hours the first time around. If you are a PS4 Pro user, The Surge is an excellent showcase of the hardware that utilizes its potential by giving the option to use two different rendering modes: Performance and Quality. Performance results in the game running at 60 FPS while Quality mode runs at a much higher resolution with better visuals. This is an excellent approach and something that should be praised because it is not everyday we see developers using the extra power of PS4 Pro and giving its users choice to select how they utilize it.
The Surge Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: The Surge is a science fiction, action role-playing video game developed by Deck13 Interactive and published by Focus Home Interactive for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
The Surge is a pure adrenaline fueled action RPG that doesn't take a moment to rest and keeps the player engaged throughout their journey. It is packed with a deep experience and customization system but unfortunately lacks in enemy and environment variety that stops it from reaching the height of the Dark Souls series.