To make this easy, The Surge is Edge of Tomorrow meets Dark Souls, which is a very apt analogy now that I think about it. The grungy sci-fi setting mixed with gameplay that can be broken down as Live, Die, Repeat, Break controller in an uncontrollable rage fit. Yup. Sounds about right.
The Surge is brought to you by the same team that brought you Lords of the Fallen. I enjoyed that one well enough, but it almost felt TOO MUCH like Dark Souls. Luckily The Surge has learned a lot from it’s mistakes and created something better and a bit more original. Or at least as original as a Souls-like can get.
Let’s start from the beginning. You play as Warren, a new employee of the Creo corporation who happens to be a paraplegic. Much like every corporation, Creo cares immensely about the well-being of their employees, so they give Warren a nice new exo-skeleton. Unfortunately things go wrong. Just the first in a series of unfortunate events.
Assuming you’re a goner, they then throw you in the trash. Sounds like just about every corporation I’ve ever worked for. Fortunately you aren’t quite dead and your surgery wasn't a total failure, as you can now walk and swing a pipe with the best of ‘em. From here things get pretty familiar. You’ve got two different type of attacks, horizontal and vertical. Combining the two types allows you to do special combos. For defense, you can dodge or block. All of these actions use stamina. Run out of stamina, and you’ll be left vulnerable, which in a game where you die in one or two hits, is bad.
One change you’ll notice during combat is that you don’t simply target an enemy. Instead you target individual body parts: Arms, legs, body, and head. Some body parts will have armor, which show up as yellow, and some won’t, which show in blue. To kill enemies faster, go for non-armored parts. But if you’re wanting to gather some crafting material, then it’s time to pick an armored limb and go to town. Once the enemy is low on health, you’ll be given a prompted to perform a finishing move that amputates whatever limb you chose.
As you kill enemies, you’ll gain scrap, which is essentially a currency used for leveling up and crafting new equipment. This is actually something new to The Surge. Equipment is crafted by using scrap and different parts you gather from enemies. To get the necessary parts for building new equipment, pick the extremity that you need and forcibly liberate it from your enemy’s body. Example: let’s say you need some parts to build a new helmet. Simple. Target the head. Decapitate. This is also how you will obtain new weapons and armor schematics to craft. Other than that, it’s just fun… I’m starting to question my sanity.
When you die (I’d say if, but there’s no if), you’ll drop all of your scrap and be sent back to the safe area, or as the game calls it, Ops. Don’t panic. You can get that scrap back, as long as you get back to where you died within the time limit. Yup. Time limited corpse runs.
As I mentioned, scrap is important because it’s also used for leveling up. Levels will give your exo suit more power. The amount of power you have determines how much gear you can equip, including implants. Implants are equipment that give you lots of benefits such as extra medpacks to heal yourself, boosts to energy or endurance, or even helping you track nearby items.
In regular Souls-like fashion, each map is almost a maze of hallways and corridors that end up interconnecting, providing you with shortcuts back to your safe area. However, unlike Souls each level appears to only have one safe area, unless I’m completely missing something which is likely. Safe area are where you can recover all your medpacks, level up, equip new implants, and craft new armor. While you may be tempted to come back to this area often, The Surge provides benefits for staying away. You’ll gain a multiplier the longer you’re out of the safe area, which increases the amount of scrap you gain per kill. But should you die or return to the safe area you’ll lose it, so try not to do either of those things for as long as possible… Since those are conflicting activities, expect to be seeing it a lot anyway.
My main gripe here is that sadly the game is not one large open world. Instead it is broken up into separate levels. Sure they’re big levels, but it’s no replacement for a large open world.
Also, what kind of Souls-like would this be without some difficult bosses? I’m not really sure, because the three bosses I came across in my 13 hours playing weren’t terribly difficult. The enemies throughout the level tend to make up for it, as they’re often frustrating as hell, but that also makes the bosses come off as pretty anticlimactic.
Other than that, The Surge does a lot of stuff right and I’ve found myself pretty addicted to it. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s definitely a fun game. If you enjoy Souls-likes, I’d suggest checking this one out as it’s just difficult enough to feel fresh.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10
- Interesting Setting
- Solid Combat
- Difficult/Rewarding Gameplay
- Some Innovative Features
- Easy(ish) Bosses
- Repetitive Environments
- Somewhat Repetitive Enemies