It’s extremely difficult not to compare Deck13’s The Surge with From Software’s epic Dark Souls series. The controls are exactly the same, there is a lingering sense of dread, enemies are twisted and you will die, alot. It’s a shame because The Surge is an interesting take on the Horror/Action/RPG genre that delivers makes it worth playing.
The Surge places you in control of Warren, a new employee to CERO, a Elon Musk-inspired corporation that is attempting to heal the planet and make humanity better. With an exo-skeleton attached to him in a grotesque manner. With the results considered a failure due to a power issue, he is left for dead in a trash heap, with robots, zombified co-workers being controlled by their own exo-skeletons and various machines out to kill him. Warren is left with the task of finding out what has happened.
While Dark Souls likes to be cryptic with its story, The Surge goes all out and tells it as it is. Some has gone wrong and its up you to fix it. It’s not much of a story at first but collecting audio-tapes and looking at the environments helps fill the holes and gives you an idea of what is happening.
Of course, what sells The Surge is its unforgiving gameplay. As mentioned, controls are exactly like Dark Souls, using a dash, block, light and heavy strike commands, what separates is the feature to decide where you’re aiming your weapons. This adds a bit of strategy to the combat, do you go after the unarmoured sections for a quick kill or do you go after the armoured section to attempt to gain new gear for your character but deal less damage?
This is where the game suddenly becomes inspired by Bethesda’s latest attempt at DOOM, as the game offers a gruesome set of executions to help you pull armour and weapons off of your targets. While there is a limited amount of animations for this per weapon type, it’s a gory payoff that is satisfying and beneficial to help you power up your Exo-suit.
While The Surge prides itself on its difficulty, it can be overwhelmingly frustrating. It feels like the opponents have several levels over you and able to do an insane amount of damage that will obliterate your health bar to nothing in 2 hits. This wouldn’t be such a problem if Ops Centers, which act like save points for players, would have more short-cuts, or have more of them in level. As extra insult to injury, you will lose valuable scrap, which is used to upgrade your rig and purchase gear, then have to race back to the location you died within a time-limit before it disappears.
While my complaint could be passed off as someone who wasn’t able to “Git Gud” at The Surge, but the difficulty doesn’t feel as much of a challenge as it does being cheap. After all, you’re likely to die faster from something you didn’t see in its abysmally dark factories while locked on against another opponent who you’re trying to find the best weak spot to start wailing on.
Don’t get me wrong, The Surge is interesting and is definitely worth trying if only for a chance of setting from the fantasy world of Dark Souls and Deck13’s other attempt, Lords of the Fallen. You just need to prepare for the fact that you’re likely going to snap that controller in two after dying for the 20th time to a grunt that killed you in one shot again.