The Surge PC Review
If you watched Elysium in 2013, starring Matt Damon sporting a High Tech Exo-Suit which inevitably turned out to have the most destructive Military applications ever, then The Surge will bring back the feels of ‘ol Max’ struggles.
This has been a magnificent year for gaming, specifically for the FPS and RPG genre’s, and The Surge has earned it’s space on the wall of fame in my humble opinion. Quite frankly, since receiving the game on the 12th of May (4 days before the South African Launch), I have had a hard time peeling myself away from the game to get on with the rest of of the demands of “real life”. Escaping into a High-Tech-Meets-Industrial-Wasteland-World has been very soothing to my “Gamer Soul”. Developed by Deck13 Interactive, who are wildly known for their 2014 smash hit, Lords of the Fallen, The Surge does not need to try hard to be the follow-up favorite from this studio in this Seriously Chaotic Third-Person Melee-Focused Action RPG.
For Guts and Gory!
The Surge starts off with a “sort-of” infomercial, about a company called CREO, who have “found” a way to extend the human race’ “dominion” over the already collapsed Climate System and Environmental Instability due to Global Warming. The scene then shifts over to the main Protagonist, and your Avatar, Warren, who is Wheelchair-bound, seeking to cash in on CREO’s promise to “Make You Better”. After arriving, you make your way to the Registration Center and select your “Rig” Style, which pits you in either a Tank-like Exo-Suit or one more “fitted” for Field-Operations that focus’ on Agility.
You then enter a Fully Automated Operation Room, where things start going wrong, setting the stage and tone for the game, where basically, the CREO Rig Fitting System Malfunctions and the operation is done “live”, without anesthetic, and you cannot help but cringe while watching Warren have numerous holes drilled into him and bolts tightened straight into his bones. Warren wakes up in a facility under attack from the inside, where the other employees have been driven to murder and extreme violence. Yup you guessed it, it is your mission to find out what happened while fighting your way back to the top.
The Mechanics (Bad Pun)
When you wake up, your “Rig” is in bad shape, but you can finally walk, and in Warren’s words, “It functions better than I could!”, but you need to do some repairs by locating a new, and replacing your current, Power Core. This then opens up the Gear Crafting doors to the game, which will become your main focus as you desperately attempt to push your progression. While fighting your way through CREO, each encounter will reward you with Tech Scraps, which very loosely put, is one of the currencies you use to purchase Materials or Upgrade your “Rig”. Your first batch of tougher “Rigged” bad guys, teaches you a really nifty feature of the game, where you can individually target body parts of your foe, and hack away at it, until eventually, you have an opportunity to Salvage that body part by chopping it off and returning it to the nearest Operations Center (…bad puns abound!) where you can then break down the Trophy Limb into Materials to either Craft New Gear Pieces or again, Upgrade your current Gear.
Having mentioned that you can individually target body parts in battle, the fastest way to take down enemies, is to target the Unarmored Limbs, as an example, in most cases, the Head. Doing this though only helps you get through baddies quicker, and rewards are very minimal, so you then appreciate another dynamic of the game, which is “Pre-Battle-Strategy”, where you often ask yourself one very important question. Do you need better gear or are you satisfied with your setup and desire to just push forward?
The reason for this being an important question, is due to battle being so darn hard! It requires a lot of focus from you, because each enemy has their own specific vulnerabilities, tactics and set of attack “patterns”, and knowing the difference between dodge and attack opportunities will dictate the amount of times you die. Oh yes! Before I forget to mention something quite annoying that you need to know, pay attention. When you die, you drop all accumulated Tech Scraps from previous fights, unless you go Bank them at a Operations Center regularly. Not all is lost though, as you do have a Pickup Timer that gives you the chance to get back to where you died and get those Tech Scraps back, so again, choose your fights carefully.
Post “Rig” Envy
Let me explain the fundamentals to your “Rig”. It is basically a Mechanical Device that gives Warren the ability to Walk (as previously mentioned), but it also boosts his Speed and Strength, that looks like a Metal Skeleton on top of Warrens Limbs. You can imagine that in reality, this would make anyone a bit bulky, and naturally a bit “slower”, and that translates into the game, however, fights still unfold at an alarming rate, enemies keep coming and managing your Stamina Bar becomes challenging. Every Dodge or Attack consumes Stamina, but each successful attack builds up Energy, which you can use on a number of things, like Epic Finishing Moves, Summoning your Personal Drone (Which Attacks or Slows your Enemy), Spending it on Healing or Stamina Boosts or a few other Buffs.
Upgrading and Crafting “Rig” Limbs is what ultimately gets you further into the game, as each area throws a curve ball at you, where you will need to either swap out Limbs or swap out Implants to give you the correct balance of Damage, Stamina Balance and Ability to progress.
As mentioned, you need to be in an Operations Center to do alterations or switch around Implants, but beyond that you can swap them at will. This well thought out customization system let me completely alter my Character Build in minutes depending on the Encounter or Zone ahead. In some spots, I needed to replace my ability to see Enemy Health Bars with one that allowed me to breathe Toxic Gas. I believe this is due to the fact that you spend quite a bit of time in the Crafting and Upgrade Screens, that Deck13 Interactive wanted to balance out actual progression time in the field, again, encouraging you to think ahead and plan your strategies well in advance.
Enemies are tough and the surroundings are just as challenging, it is easy to get confused in the CREO Facility Maze, but you need to try keep your wits about you because this game loves trolling you by finding new ways to surprise and kill you! Make no mistake, you will die. A lot! Enemies are often hidden around corners out of view, and when you step through a doorway, they’ll immediately swing. Or they’re placed behind boxes that they’ll smash through other than being directly in your path, in the middle of a patch of Poison Gas that you need to somehow get through. (Hence the Implants) Boss fights are brilliant! With Multi-Phase fights, it honestly took me a few deaths to reach my “Aha! Moments” and have the Tactics figured out. The difficulty of the game really makes every inch of progression into CREO’s Facility feel like a massive achievement.
The Graphics are quite spectacular. It is reminiscent of quite a few FPS and RPG titles spliced together, making any player feel right at home, only with added gore, like when you replace your Arm Limb with a Chainsaw and perform a Finishing Move, you get a Mini-Cinematic Animation where you decapitate an Enemy Limb with massive Blood Spills or Rolling Heads. Corny, but strangely Satisfying at the same time. The Music and Sound Effects trigger a little sporadic, but not enough to be a nuisance and can be enjoyed as it sets the Creepy Atmosphere superbly well. Now for the Story… The Surge attempts to do what a wildly popular and very recent title got right, where you find random Audio Logs expanding on the Plot as you progress. There are also a few Friendly Characters that you meet up with, but that is the sum total of the Story Progression. A lot more time was spent on the entertaining and challenging Mechanics, Fights and Crafting System, so it is honestly, an acceptable sacrifice. The Surge launched in South Africa on 16 May 2017, was Developed by Deck13 Interactive and Published by Focus Home Interactive. At the time of writing this review, BT Games is selling the PC Version for R645.00, the PlayStation 4 Version and Xbox One Version for R735.00. The Surge is quite a lot of fun, and came out of nowhere to leave a lasting mark.