REVIEW – Let’s start off by admitting that Deck13 made a full-on Dark Souls clone roughly 2.5 years ago. Lords Of The Fallen wasn’t a trashcan-worthy title, but it was problematic, especially on consoles. What a difference time and a new publisher (CI Games before, Focus Home Interactive) makes.
Souls-type games have a renaissance nowadays, especially how those series are supposedly over with Dark Souls III (oh well, there’s Bloodborne 2!), and Nioh was a decent game by Team Ninja. The Surge isn’t bad either, but it’s not great – it’s just slightly below that rank!
Rise of the robots a la The Surge
When I first saw the sci-fi visuals, I immediately thought of Rise of the Robots, although Coton was replaced by Warren, and we don’t control a cyborg, and instead, it’s a human with an exoskeleton with… limitations (I’m not saying more – it’ll play a role in the ending, too ;)). That reminded me of the story, which is just… okay.
It’s not outstanding and not terrible either, and unfortunately, it follows the Prey formula with audio logs and very limited character interaction. So, Warren gets into an exoskeleton to fight and discover the mysteries of CREO, which could be interpreted as a sign of our future as well. Enter the second verse, Lords of the Fallen 2.
Rise of the characters (in text, at least)
The Surge is similar to Lords of the Fallen. No joke, I believe most of the animations are just copied over from that game. Finishing blow animations? Those maybe not, but I’ll say something outright: it’d be a good idea to reduce their regular appearance, which you can do so in the options (I’ll get back to this thing later), as they are too often shown by default.
The combat system makes you focused on limbs and attacking them. As you are in an exoskeleton, you will have to improve it to survive and gain levels. Weak points of the enemies have a noticeable blue tint, comboing these will give you a finishing blow, ripping limbs off. Defeating enemies gives you Tech Scrap, which you can use to improve Warren’s skills and customize your exoskeleton at MedBays. You can acquire special skills via unique limbs, like gaining more defence, or you can also tune Warren with several implants. Levelling up is handled by Core Power, which limits you down to a certain amount of implants and upgrades – the higher your level, the more you can „take” with you.
The Souls-imitation shows up here as well: if you die, and you will have quite a few times due to the challenging gameplay, you will lose all your Tech Scrap, which you can get back in a limited time. You can block mid, high or low, or just roll to avoid attacks – in no time; I found myself doing rolls more than blocking. (The game is still easier than say, STRAFE.) I almost forgot to mention the drone! You’re going to get one, and obviously, it can also be upgraded to help you in fights or open some doors. Don’t ignore it.
The rise of the technology
I need to bring up a positive with The Surge. Technologically, the FLEDGE engine behind the game is doing some outstanding performance. In fact, it uses the PlayStation 4 Pro‘s capabilities much more than a lot of recent games. Even DigitalFoundry confirms this, just check out how smooth it runs on a PlayStation 4 Pro if you choose to go for a 1080p resolution. Very nice:
If you die, it’ll take about five seconds to respawn, the graphics look fine, and you can even set up some of it in the options! You can disable blur; you can also modify the amount of lens flare – Deck13 has set a standard that other developers should follow in the future. What about the sound? Well, it’s nothing special, it does its job well. There’s a lot of challenge, though, but the characters are forgettable, sadly (unlike the final boss… what the hell was that?)
The rise of the wallet
If you liked any of Bloodborne/Dark Souls 3/Nioh, then I recommend The Surge without second thoughts. True, it still has a lot of Lords of the Fallen in it, but the improved, optimized engine, the fun gameplay (even with a lack of enemy types and the sub-par story development), and the futuristic ambience can make it close to being an 8/10… but it gets boring here and there (and fighting multiple enemies at the same time is not fun), and still, it is a lot better than Lords of the Fallen. For PS4 Pro owners, 60 FPS is stable and possible! The game is fluid as f_ck with that option. 26-27 hours of fun.
+ The FLEDGE engine is stunning, especially on PlayStation 4 Pro
+ Limb-combat = customization = replayability
+ The base concept of the plot might be showing our future
– It’s still a Souls-clone with a sometimes unfair difficulty
– The story should have received a better narrative than what we got
– The ending is dumb (including the final boss fight)
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive, Maximum Games
Developer: Deck 13
Genre: Futuristic action-RPG
Release date: May 16, 2017