Published on May 31st, 2017 | by Ahmad Gameel0
The Surge is a Sci-Fi Action RPG game developed by Deck13 and published by Focus Home Interactive.
The Surge starts at a slightly different beginning, with a glimpse of an un-bright future where man’s disregard for nature and its constant consumption leads to undesirable consequences. Creo tries to change that with Project Resolve which is a project that may change everything paving the way for a better life on Earth.
The game begins in a vehicle resembling a train carriage in a scene that may remind you a little bit of the beginning of the game Half Life, but the difference is that you play with a protagonist called Warren and he is using a wheelchair. I really thought that was cool since we I don’t recall playing a game starting with a person on a wheelchair.
But after that interesting intro, everything just falls apart story-wise. The protagonist is so generic, the people you meet are boring and don’t tell anything that’s interesting. There are no real objectives aside from just go there, kill that and open this door and do this throughout the whole game till it’s over.
The Surge is a mixed bag when it comes to graphics. Sometimes the game looks beautiful and stunning, and at other times, the game looks bland and generic. The Lighting in the game looks really good though especially in later areas of the game. The character animations are amazing even though many of those animations are taken straight from their other game, Lords of the Fallen. And the backdrop is astonishing and sets the mood of the world but the environment you traverse is just so boring and generic to look at most of the time which I will talk about more in detail in the gameplay section.
The sound effects are amazing when you use your weapons to attack/block or when you dismemberer an enemy which is accompanied by a cool slow motion sound effect that never gets old. Unfortunately, the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired. There are hardly any emotions when any of the characters speak. There are a few ounces where the game tried to make you care for the characters but it just fails miserably because the voice actors don’t make it believable at all. And worst of them all is the main character. He barely has any emotion when he speaks and doesn’t seem to be phased out by anything around him especially when everyone around him is trying to kill him.
Also, the Male and Female enemies in the game all have the same grunt voice when they attack or die. If the developers could have made a little bit variety in that part, it could have made the game feel much more lively and won’t make you feel like you’re just killing the same enemy over and over again most of the game.
The soundtrack is also very forgettable and none of it really stands except for a song that plays when you are in the safe zone but even that got really repetitive especially because you will listen to it a lot. It’s a damn shame the game doesn’t have the awesome track called Iron Maus made by NOIISE that played in the CGI trailer of the game which I believe would have been an amazing track for a certain boss fight in the game. I love me some good soundtracks in the games I play but unfortunately, The Surge doesn’t have that.
The game took the mechanics established in Lords of The Fallen and made it so much better and faster. It did the same transition from when The Souls game did the gameplay transition to Bloodborne which favored aggressive offense strategies and fast dodging mechanics instead of hiding behind a shield and waiting for the right moment to strike. Gameplay wise, The Surge really improved the formula so much from LOTF. My only gripe with the game mechanics were the Jump/Duck mechanics that you can do in the game which is pretty much useless with almost every enemy and just isn’t worth the risk you put on yourself when you can just dodge your way out of enemy attacks.
I love the fact that you can target enemy body parts in the game for loot. Let’s say for instance an enemy is wielding a cool looking weapon in his hand and you want that then all you have to do is damage that hand enough and you will be granted an option to dismember that body part to instantly get the weapon. The Same rule applies for armor although when you destroy the body part that contains the armor you want, you don’t just get it instantly. You get a schematic for it which lets you craft it in exchange for destroyed body parts and Tech Scrap which is basically the Soul currency in this game. Also, not all body parts in the enemies are equipped with armor so targeting the parts with no armor gives you a chance to stagger them and increase the damage you do the enemy but in doing that, you won’t get the body parts loot which you will need to upgrade your armor so it’s a Risk/Reward system. I usually don’t enjoy grinding for loot that much in RPG games but the idea of destroying parts to gain armor parts and weapons and being able to upgrade them just captivated me which in my opinion is so much better than killing an enemy many times for a chance for them to drop that loot.
The RPG leveling system that was Lords of The Fallen is scrapped in favor of a different system which you basically level up your character’s Core Power but instead of gaining HP/Stamina etc., you are rewarded with implant slots for your Rig. You can install implants that increase your health or stamina and other assortments. The Higher your Core Power, the more slot implants you will have and I thought it fits the setting really well. Also, like every Souls/Borne game out there, when you die you lose all your experience but here, there is a timer that gives you 2 minutes to retrieve your Tech Scrap before they disappear. You can prolong the timer by defeating enemies on your way and trust me when I say you don’t want to rush back to your timer carelessly because you will end up getting killed most of the times. Another mechanic that was in LOTF is present here which is the XP multiplier mechanic which basically means, the more you survive out there without using the save point, the more experience you get from enemies and also the higher the multiplier number, the higher chance of enemies dropping loot. It’s another great Risk/Reward mechanic that I loved especially later on in the game.
And later on in the second area, you get a drone that helps you in dispatching enemies and open doors with handles you can’t reach. And the drone itself is customizable with different modules. Whether you want it to attack using melee weapons, or use ranged attacks or gives you a temporary barrier to lower the damage taken, it’s all up to you what module you choose. And each module changes the way the drone looks so I thought that was a neat detail.
All In all it’s a pretty good system that I enjoyed but unfortunately, that amazing gameplay is hindered by one of the worst and most infuriating level design I have ever seen in a game. The Intro Level was well made, you had a lot of room to dodge incoming attacks and actually be able to fight two or three enemies at the same time without dying instantly and enemies were spaced out fairly so if you die, it’s your fault. But what followed the starting Area is a mess, it went from a challenging yet fair game to a sudden unfair game where enemies attack you with hits that will kill you in one or two hits no matter how much armor upgrade you do, you will still die from two hits. So, your only option is to only put health implants in almost every slot in your Suit just to be able to withstand more than two hits which mean you won’t be able to take advantage of most implants in the game. Coupled with that is some of the blandest and most repetitive areas I have seen in my 19 years of gaming.
40% of this game is comprised of a linear, black and yellow metal corridor that you use to traverse throughout the game which is what I spent well over 10 hours of my 24 hours of my game time because of how confusing and samey it all looks. I found myself just running in circles over and over again because everything looks the damn same. And another 20% of the game is backtracking to areas you have been to already. And it gets even worse when they put enemies in there that can destroy you in one or two hits. Oh, and another 10% of the game is filled with toxic gas which makes fighting enemies in it such a chore until you find an implant that makes you resistant to the gas and another 5% are more linear areas with places that you will fall to your death if you try to dodge to your left or right. So that’s 50% of the game filled with annoying and linear areas and 20% of the game is backtracking to old areas so that’s 70% of the game that is just boring and annoying What is even worse is that later on the enemies are equipped with Flamethrowers and Grenade launchers accompanied by drones that give them protective barriers. Why is that annoying you say? Well, it’s because the flamethrowers have an incredible range and you have to fight them in such linear places with toxic gas everywhere. The first step you will usually do is get rid of those drones but the problem is that the drones fly so high up most of the time which makes killing them so frustrating and they stay close to the enemies they protect which mean you will be in the range of their very powerful melee attack that will take 90% of your will in one hit so it becomes a game of hit and run and pray that they don’t obliterate you with one hit.
Also, another thing that I noticed that if you start to attack enemies with a combo and they get staggered, they somehow break the stagger in the middle of your combo and hit you with a lightning fast attack that takes 80% of your health. I remember a certain feature in Kingdom Hearts 2, speed runners called it Revenge Value by which basically mean preventing bosses from being locked into an endless combo but the difference between this game and kingdom hearts is that Kingdom Hearts offers you tons of combos and patterns to avoid entering the Revenge state. But in The Surge, it just happens at any given time and there aren’t really that many combos to begin with but that’s not the issue here. The issue here is the fact that they made the enemies feel so cheap and unfair to mask how extremely short and repetitive the game is especially when the damage output of the bosses in the game is somehow weaker than your normal mobs. And there are five bosses in the whole thing. That’s a major downgrade from eleven bosses that were in LOTF or the nineteen bosses that were in Dark Souls 3. Some might say that fewer bosses don’t undermine the value of the game a whole but the problem is that there isn’t much variety in normal mobs either.
The Surge might triumph over Lords of The Fallen in the gameplay department but when it comes to level design and variety, it’s somehow worse. I was really hoping they take the feedback from LOTF and fix the negatives that kept it from being amazing but it seems they did just the opposite. They took the bad stuff in LOTF and made a full game out of it. I really wanted to love The Surge because I enjoyed LOTF very much even if it wasn’t as good as the Souls/Borne games and I was hoping this would compete with Souls/Borne games but the developers just made a 20 hours game with 15 hours of repetitive bullshit and an extremely generic story/lore and no PVP multiplayer and less bosses than their previous game and somehow it’s 60$. You know, if they actually gave us a 6 hours game for 20$ without all the boring stuff, I would have easily given it a 4/5 but with the amount of crap you have to go through just to get to the good stuff, I simply can’t give it higher than 2.5/5.
Let’s hope if the developers ever decide to make a sequel to The Surge, they actually listen to the feedback this time and make a game that is worth our time and money but after this mess, I am not going to hold my breath.