Title: The Surge
Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Developer: Deck13 Interactive
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Genre: Action role-playing game
Official Site: http://www.thesurge-game.com/
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Where to Buy: Steam, PSN Network, Xbox Live Marketplace, Local Retailers
I am by no means a patient person. When it comes to video games no statement rings truer, as games are what I do for enjoyment and who enjoys feeling frustrated. Despite those facts, The Surge is one of the most frustratingly fun games I have played in a very long time. Like a fine wine, it only got better with experience.
The Surge’s story is an interesting one, taking place in a dystopian future centered around growing and integrating machines with humans to help combat their climate change that has destroyed their world. Players are put in the shoes of a handicapped man named Warren, who joins a company called CREO with the hopes of walking again. Throughout the prolog, the game does a bit of world building through an expositional welcome video.
It wouldn’t be a video game if things didn’t go bad right when the protagonist arrives though, as Warren’s rig implant surgery goes wrong – though it is revealed through audio diaries he wasn’t the first – after choosing which rig he wants. Despite almost dying from no administration of novocaine, he is overjoyed to no longer be handicapped and is in a human rigged mech suite. Almost immediately though it’s obvious that something is wrong.
The Surge does an amazing job of creating a chilling atmosphere, not only with lightning fast, terrifying enemies but with its ambiance as well. Each area, even when well lit, gives off a grim feeling, with dead bodies and blood scattered throughout. The facility is overrun by hostile robots and zombie-like humans that attack you on site. Outside of the enemies, the large facility is desolate, making it feel like Warren is truly alone with these monsters. The most chilling part about all of this is that the technology, outside of the robots who attack on site, performs as if everything was normal. Welding bots work on maintaining the infrastructure, security bots scan the perimeter, so on and so forth. Even the motivation videos, like the ones on the train, continue to run and are some of the few ambient voices present throughout the game.
Some workers do manage to survive the beginning events of The Surge though, providing both much-needed character interaction and side quests. While a small bit of the game’s story is told through these quick interactions, most of it is done through audio logs. This may not be enough exposition for some, but the show, don’t tell aspect of the game is one of my favorite parts of The Surge. Don’t worry though, the small stories aren’t pointless, as the side quest reward valuable loot.
Like any action role-playing game, there are a handful of different ways to use this loot. Warren can earn materials and combine them with tech scrap – earned from defeating enemies – to craft new implants to provide stat boosters, giving him more health, stamina, and energy, and upgrade attachments to his suite. Alongside looking badass with each new attachment, upgrading his rigs head, arm, leg, and chest accessories grant more defense points to help survive. Most importantly though, tech scrap and loot leads to powerful weapons.
The Surge’s weapons are pretty damn cool, as the rig can support giant blades, pistons, and cutters, all with different play styles. Fights with specific enemies can be more daunting depending on if you are using a one-handed weapon vs a heavy duty one. The varying speeds and attacks of the different enemies come into play as well, as some will work better than others on specific opponents.
One problem I found though is that no matter the style I chose, a lot of the attacks felt inconsistent. Warren’s setup and rig can essentially mirror some enemies, especially if they contain the same weapon types. Despite this I ran into many occasions where an enemy like the SCARAB Zombie (Butterfly) felt frustratingly overpowered, managing to be simultaneously fast, strong and unblockable.
Getting used to each enemy did take a while, but with a combination of luck, experience, and a whole lot of dodging, The Surge started to feel both fun and rewarding. Killing an enemy type that I was having an impossible time with earlier, while only to occur again by introducing another scaled up enemy, was damn satisfying. Boss fights in the game start out brutal, but after an innumerable amount of deaths, trial and error prevailed, as distinct patterns and weaknesses develop with each new big fight.
The Surge taught me a lot of patience, but it’s definitely not going to be for everyone. Like I said before, it’s very rare that I will play a game that frustrates me, making me die to learn a lesson. A lot of gamers are the same way. A vast majority of my time in this game has been spent dying and fighting through the same enemies that I killed mere moments ago, as enemies respawn in their specific place after a time period. So if you don’t like games that inspired The Surge, like the Souls series, you probably will want to avoid this one.
VERDICT: The Surge is a soul-crushingly good time, but won’t be for everyone. A mostly exposition free story, difficult enemies, and repetition will likely turn a lot away. Patience pays off for those who power through though, as the game rewards you with a unique and satisfying experience that really sets it apart from a lot of the cookie cutter games currently clogging up the industry. At the very least, The Surge deserves a shot for any avid gamer, especially those who enjoy a challenge.
- Show, don’t tell story
- Fulfilling gameplay
- Creepy dystopian setting
- Scaling loot system
- Difficulty and inconsistencies
- Repetitive respawning enemies