The Surge

The Surge

(Focus Home Interactive)
Ship Date: 
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

“No Vital Signs Found” is a phase I quickly became accustomed to in Deck13 Interactive’s The Surge. It’s not as mocking and to the point as “You Died” from the Souls franchise, but it’s equally irritating to read when it comes on screen. Like Deck13’s previous game, Lords of the Fallen, The Surge follows the Souls style of gameplay where players must master the environment and its enemies through frequent death and repetition. It’s a style that can be devastatingly difficult but equally rewarding; a style that The Purge executes to near perfectly.


In the future, mankind has nearly exhausted most of the Earth’s resources. War and global warming have ravaged all of society, but the technology-driven CREO corporation has made it their goal to save what’s left of the population. Players take on the role of Warren, a new-hire at CREO who is arriving at the complex for his first day of work when a major catastrophe hits. All of a sudden most everything and everyone has malfunctioned and are out to kill you. It’s your job to investigate the complex and find out what is going on and what you can do to stop it.


Warren, like all other CREO employees, is outfitted with an exoskeleton that gives you access to a plethora of upgradable armor and weapons. What sets The Surge apart from other Souls-like games is its approach to gear. Each appendage can be individually equipped with its own unique piece or armor. There are six in total; two arms, two legs, a body, and a head. You initially outfitted with a standard CREO exoskeleton set but by defeating enemies and scavenging machinery you’re able to craft more powerful equipment.


In order to obtain this equipment, however, players must utilize The Surge’s targeting system in combat. Individual body parts can be targeted to better your chances at receiving armor for that specific location. Every enemy is different and comes with their own set of gear. Some might not have any equipped at all in a specific location and will take extra damage there as a result. That comes at a cost, though, because by targeting armored limbs Warren increases his chances of hacking them off with a flashy finishing move that provides schematic drops, which he can then develop into gear of his own. It’s a risk/reward system. Do you go for the quick kill or do take a chance in the hopes of receiving more gear?


Regardless of how you defeat your foes, every kill nets you Tech Scrap, the game’s form of currency. It can then be used at safe hubs to create/upgrade your equipment. Everything from each piece of armor you wear to your exoskeleton rig itself can be further enhanced to increase the number of performance-boosting implants you can equip. The world of The Surge runs on Tech Scrap. In typical Souls fashion though, gathering Tech Scrap can come at a cost.


Should you die on the battlefield, you lose all the Tech Scrap you’re carrying. The good news is that you have the opportunity to return to your place of death and reclaim your fallen currency. Should you die before you reach it or the time to reclaim it runs out, it’s lost forever. Dying isn’t the most frustrating aspect of The Surge. It’s dying the second time. There were times where I collected a considerable amount of Tech Scrap that was well into the 100,000 and then lost it all because of a stupid mistake. The Surge is more lenient than others as you can bank your Tech Scrap at one of the hubs, but that does little to ease the pain of losing a massive amount at any given time. Even the lesser enemies have the capabilities of killing you if you’re reckless so it’s best to always bring your A game.


Despite the frustration with continually dying, The Surge is absolutely worth it. Oftentimes you’ll it may seem like you’re taking two steps back with every step forward, but you still always feel like you’re making progress. The level layouts are some of the best in gaming. Initially there’s only one path laid out in front of you, but the further you get in a level the more it opens up. Alternate paths can lead to hidden secrets or shortcuts back to the safe hub, so even in death there’s a quick way back to where you met your fateful demise. Even if you’re constantly dying, and you will, hopefully you’re picking up your lost Tech Scrap, which can quickly build for better upgrades.


The Surge is a fine tuned and well oiled machine. Everything from the gameplay and combat mechanics to the level design is expertly crafted to deliver a rewarding experience where you feel truly accomplished in your successes and are brutally devastated by your failures. It might feel a little overwhelming at first, but the treasures it holds are well worth the practice.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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