The Surge was released yesterday and I’ve been lucky enough to have had a few hours with it to see just what it’s all about.
The first thing we need to set straight is just how similar this game is in terms of design and gameplay to the Souls series by FromSoftware. The combat, the exploration, the boss fights, everything about The Surge is a cover version of the well-established design philosophy that has made the Souls games so beloved by a large sect of the gaming community. I’d say in terms of how the game plays it’s closer to Bloodborne than Demon/Dark Souls thanks to how fluid (and at times how frustrating the combat can sometimes be). These comparisons should be somewhat of a red flag to those who didn’t get into those games in a big way, which I must admit I didn’t. Still, it’s got enough to differentiate it that it could prove a good starting point for those interested in the genre.
The first thing that really struck me about this game was that the main character is, before being augmented with a mech-suit, in a wheelchair. My knowledge of the representation of disabled people in games is sadly limited but I found this to be a very good way of grabbing my attention. After the five or so minutes of the prologue before the protagonist is fitted for a suit that allows him to walk the game never makes mention of the characters past disability. I have a feeling the game is unlikely to use that narrative potential going forward since it’s a game that appears more interested in dismemberment than anything nuanced.
Speaking of Dismemberment
The combat as you’d expect is all very hack & slash in the mould of Souls game. Attacks carry with them a certain weight with them as they collide with foes bodies (if they don’t just clip right through as sometimes happens). Enemies can be focused on and individual body parts can be targeted for dismemberment. You can choose to target unarmoured parts for greater damage or you can take a risk and target the more heavily armoured parts of a foe and try to hack it off. Doing so will reward you with whatever that enemy had equipped. For instance, if I cut off the arm of my opponent I’d have a good chance of being able to loot the schematics to whatever they had equipped at the time, allowing me to craft my own for. Any later looting of the same parts will give you the resources to upgrade your equipment. For the most part, this system works well, although it does have some issues in targeting the torso of the typical human opponent, meaning I was left without a chest plate for the first two hours of the game as was unable to take much punishment from the various psychotic robots I encountered.
So far I’ve only encountered one Boss fight and I must say It left me a little cold. If you’ve seen any footage of the game it’s quite likely you’ll have seen this encounter, featuring a bi-pedal robot that looks like the one from Robocop (Which became a joke in how bad it was). For most of the fight I was just smashing my weapon against it’s legs, doing no real damage but instead filling a bar that once full would then decide that I was allowed to start doing damage for a very brief period. The fight was for the most void of any drama or tension. I hate to keep harking on to Dark Souls but remember the first boss fights of Dark Souls 3 or Bloodborne, those were epic as fuck! You were treated to a fearsome spectacle and even at such an early stage of the game they still felt nerve-wracking and skill testing. I’ve yet to encounter any more bosses in The Surge but I really do hope they’re a little more awe-inspiring
Those are just some of my initial thoughts about the Surge after my few hours playing with. I’ll be sure to write more about it in the coming days so do follow us on Twitter @RoguelikeStart