Have you ever played Demon Souls? The Surge is kind of like that.
In a not too far dystopian future, mankind has ruined the world. The only cure? Battling exoskeletons. You are tasked to join the job force in which you get grafted to your equipment in the most painful of ways. Happily bonded to a hunk of metal, things go wrong. Because so far it’s been peachy. A malfunction with the train causes it to crash. You survive only to realize machines and things want to kill you. It doesn’t matter why. We have souls tech scrap to collect!
There was a time I loved a souls game. Demon Souls is one of my all time favorite games. And yes, I will keep mentioning Souls games as The Surge is unapologetically riding the curtails of everything From Software spent years creating. In the end, I can say I am no longer in love with the Souls formula. I think From Software would agree having made an end to the trilogy. Deck13 did not get the memo. Or maybe it did and felt the void of a heavy, “difficult” hack and slash needed to be filled.
In plain english, The Surge is not a bad game. However that does not make it a good one either. What From Software was able to do along with gameplay was create a lore. A lore that reached deep into every aspect of the game. Fans of those games don’t question much as they fully believe in the Church of Souls. The Surge lacks that care to the world. Right off the bat everything feels familiar. There is no wonder in the environment. You already know how a lift works, how computers operate, and how the flying robot with guns on the wing will behave.
Visually it’s very tame. The art style resembles just about every third person shooter you played in recent years. The enemies are left over machine parts from every game where robots were slain. The Surge puts little care into the aesthetic of itself. In Souls games, when the player dies and is resurrected at the camp fire, you go with it. You are a dead man amongst the dead. A soul yourself. In The Surge, when you die, you resurrect at the tech chamber thing. Why? Did I miss the part where humanity became immortal?
This is a game that does not care to ask the question of why do what we do. The Surge cares not for any rhyme or reason. Deck13 simply went out to make a game that Souls fans would enjoy. For the most part they succeeded.
The Surge relies completely on it’s gameplay. It’s weighted, unforgiving, and at times unfair. Everything you’re looking for in this genre. A game Tom Cruise would be proud to live, die, repeat in. Like any good Souls game, The Surge revolves around collecting souls tech scrap. Tech scrap is your currency, your upgrade points, your life. If you die prepare for a trip back to your body for scraps. Standard fair. That said, The Surge does add something I appreciate.
Combat is not as mindless as it seems. In The Surge you are able to target limbs and cut them off. This could have been a lazy wow factor. Credit to Deck13 for making it a useful game mechanic. You will need certain items to craft and upgrade gear. Getting that certain item is no longer left to total chance. Come across a blueprint (why are robots dropping blueprints?) that needs leg parts? Go out and cut off some legs. Same goes with arms, body parts, and heads. The Surge does a good job at making you feel like a machine more than a man at times. Swapping modules to give different abilities does feel like swapping out PC parts for better ones. The RPG elements are weak but serviceable. They don’t hinder gameplay and at times could make it better. It’s just not enough of a twist to spice up such an overused formula.