Just as its name, The Surge popped into our lives and then was out for us to play in short order. That's not to say that Deck 13 didn't put in the effort to make it a great game, but we first caught wind of it not too long ago and now here we are giving it a review. Of course, Focus Home Interactive does have a lot of titles in the pipe currently and during the lead up to The Surge finally being released so maybe that is why we had what felt like a rush from announce to release. We aren't here for all that speculation though. We are here as it has officially launched here and we've given the game a chance to carve out our hearts and show off a new limb cutting system. Here's our final review of how the game did.
It's the future and humans have used up everything that the planet has to offer. People are dying or losing their jobs to machines and companies are forcing employees to get exoskeleton suits to help with productivity to keep their jobs. This is where Warren comes in as he is the latest hire to the CREO corporation and he is having one of the worst first days ever. While getting fitted for his suit something goes wrong and not only is he completely awake for the process, he awakes from it all with what looks like the downfall of society and the company at the same time. Talk about a case of the Mondays…
My biggest gripe I would have to say that I have with The Surge is the extreme lack of information that is given to the player on how to actually play the game and use the mechanics designed for the game. It does have a nice way to present the tips that is offered up to the player, but they are so few and far between that it is easy to get lost in how to most things. One of the big things I found was that the crafting and upgrading system for The Surge to be one of the harder things to understand out of the gate. In fact, I played the first few hours of the game searching out items I thought I needed to use to upgrade with only to find out that the game set the basic items to higher upgrade levels and I could have crafted things from the start. Why would you set the base craft item to the third upgrade setting by default and not just the base item? This is how most of the other mechanics work as well.
Building off of the lack of information, The Surge also has little in the way of helping you figure out what you need to be doing besides killing enemies and searching out the levels. The goals and "missions" are not explained to any point to make it fell intuitive to progress through. Or Deck 13 has placed the triggers for the next event and portion of level to play out in a weird way. I spent about two hours looking around the first map to figure out where to go only to find out that I had to backtrack a great bit to find the first boss and then move along. There is little to no indication of any of this in The Surge and in quite a few places some sort of indication is needed to keep players on track. It was way too easy to get lost and not the best way.
Lastly, and maybe this is what we should have expected in The Surge, but it seems like a weird thing to have ALL of the enemies respawn just because you left an area by a foot or two. It does make it easy to grid up the gear and level up to help survive the rest of the area, but it becomes more of an annoying chore to have to kill everything again because you had to run back and drop off a quick item. Maybe that is the appeal to some gamers out there, but it seemed more like they needed to fill the levels to make it stretch out a bit longer than normal. Maybe it is just me, but I like my enemies to have a reason to have respawned besides the fact that I walked past an invisible barrier that triggered them all to un-disintegrate. It's more annoying than a challenge is all I'm getting at.
One of the things I was so worried about for The Surge had to be its combat and limb severing system in the game. Deck 13 would tout it constantly as we waited for the game to launch but never truly explained it. While we don't get a full explanation in game for it, it is definitely one of the best features in the game. It is also something to get a handle on pretty quickly and leads to making the grind not feel like it is just a grind. Especially since it all depends on the target locked enemy, the limb you select, and then your own placing to build up the energy to perform an over-the-top animation that ends with the enemy losing a limb, dying, and then you gaining a whole lot of new hardware to work with to upgrade and alter yourself. Maybe this is why there are so many extra enemies in The Surge that don't fit all so we can have things to kill.
The next great aspect of The Surge has to be the level design in the game and how "open" it truly feels. Almost every location I encountered in the game had multiple ways to navigate and get around. Some were more hidden than others but each time I found a new path, entrances, or door to go through it always made me question how I missed it before. In the best way as it all made sense and didn't feel like certain things were there because it made for a good game level but it made for a realistic feeling world. Why wouldn't there be multiple entrances and exits for a service area in a factory? Most other games would just give us the one path, but The Surge offered up enough options so you could play as you want and not on a set path from one designer who thought it was the best.
While mechanic information in The Surge may be lacking, the story and world information here hits a perfect balance to keep us interested and not weighed down by too much. This could have easily been a game the relied on having hundreds of hidden documents hidden around the game world to flesh out the overall story. While The Surge did have some of them, you never felt like you were missing out if you didn't find them all as the character details and story was offered up enough to keep you filled in. If there is one thing I hate it is digging through hundreds of text documents to truly know the characters and story but The Surge offers up more than the basics in a great way that the rest is just icing on the cake.
I had so many concerns for The Surge given how information was given out for the game leading up to its launch. While this does carry over to the game in a harsh way to not hold the hands of players, once you get a hang of things, the game picks up and it is easy to lose hours in the game. I would have loved to have some better indicators on where to go and what to do, or at least reminders, but The Surge becomes second nature once you get over the hump of the learning curve. Something that needs to be done with all of the enemy respawns that go on. None the less it is a great game for those who love the Dark Souls style and want to have a new experience in a different genre. It really is a Sci-Fi version of it all when things are said and done. Take that into account before you opt to pick it up.
I give The Surge 886 Severed Limbs on the Severed Limb scale.
The Surge — Launch Trailer
The Surge was developed by Deck 13 and published by Focus Home Interactive for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC on May 16th, 2017. A digital PS4 copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.