The Surge Review
The Surge is hard. You will die, a lot. Now we’ve got that out of the way let us tell you a little more about The Surge, a hardcore RPG from Lords of the Fallen developers Deck 13.
The Surge is set in a dystopian future where nearly all of the worlds resources have been used up and technology has advanced to the point where you now wear an exoskeleton to do some of the few jobs that remain open to the human race. And this is where you come in.
You are starting your first day on the job and your first task is to select your exoskeleton. At the start of the game you have the choice of two classes, Lynx which is an agile and versatile class and Rhino who is something of a tank class. We chose the Rhino. Having the exoskeleton placed on you is a surgical procedure that, in your case, goes wrong. After some horrific scenes you are rendered unconscious and when you wake up you are in pain but no longer inside. Soon you learn that everything around you, from former colleagues to the machines that are replacing them are all trying to kill you. Why? You do not know, but you must find out.
The tutorial is subtle and comprehensive. At the very start of the game it holds your hand as you get to grips with the mechanics but very soon it lets go. The Surge gives you the skills that you need to get through this dystopian world, but it’s up to you to master them.
The enemies you face even at the start of the game are formidable and you learn that you must spend as much time gauging and dodging enemy attacks as you do attacking yourself. One hit from an enemy does as much damage to you as it would have to them had the roles been reversed. This means that you quickly learn to pick your battles.
This been said, picking your battles sometimes isn’t an option, but a necessity because at the end of the day you really have to fight. When you kill enemies they drop scrap or equipment that you can use to craft and upgrade your gear. Whether they drop scrap or equipment is really up to you. You have a choice how you attack your enemies. You can either aim for unarmored parts of the enemy which will do more damage or you can attack armored sections to build up a power meter that can result in you hacking off an its limb. The animations for this can get pretty gruesome. If you manage to tear off a limb then that limb may well gift you some new equipment.
At the start of the game the smaller enemies are a grind but grind you must. You can return to the med bay any time you like and use the scrap that you have collected to level up your powercore, which is the bases for the leveling up system. You can also choose to craft and upgrade your equipment so that soon you are walking around like an armored tank. Each time you add a new bit of equipment the stronger you feel. This can be a double edged sword because indeed you are stronger but this can lull you into a false sense of security and in The Surge, complacency quickly leads to your demise.
It is quite obvious where The Surge has taken its inspiration from and like the infamous Souls series and its bonfires, if you go back to the med bay then all of the enemies that you have killed will be respawned. This means that you can, and actually need to farm the enemies to gain the resources you need to toughen up.
The Surge guides you where to go in an oh so subtle way that it feels as if you are making your own way through the world. As you progress, you open doors offering you shortcuts around the world to places that you have been. Even after you die the doors stay open which is pretty handy.
The combat feels a little clunky at first but after some practice you get the hang of how things work and find that there is a rhythm to the combat and a tremendous amount of patience. By pressing in the right stick you can lock onto an enemy which is essential if you don’t want to be swirling your weapon in any direction. The trick, especially at the start is not to get overrun. Ideally, you need to get good at luring out one enemy at a time and isolate them.
After a short while you feel strong enough to give any of the early enemies a good fight even though before each battle there is still a little bit of apprehension. With your upgrades and armour soon you’ll be batting enemies aside like a fly getting in your face – But then you meet the first boss and everything gets put back into perspective. You go from feeling like a man to feeling like a small child who wants to run crying to their mother. The bosses in this title are huge. For example, the first boss you meet, you only stand as high as their ankle and when you swing at them the amount of damage you do to them is minimal. If you stand to close for too long they will merely stand on you as if you were nothing more than a bug. But don’t think staying away will keep you safe, rockets from hell will rain down upon you.
The Surge is a fantastic new IP and promises bright things for the future. This may not be a game for everyone but if you like your games to present a challenge to you and keep you on your toes then The Surge may well be the game for you but be warned, this is not a game for the weak of will.
The Surge is available now from retailers and can be downloaded digitally from the Xbox Store, priced at £49.99.
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