The Surge may not be the best example of the souls-like genre, but it tries to have its own personality and in a certain way it succeeds.
One of the reasons I will always have faith in the gaming market is that the moment a fashion is born, a void is consequently generated. If in the general panorama one is overwhelmed by games belonging to the top genres of the moment, a slice of the public will ask for something different and certainly that something will come.
So it happened with Demon's Soul and most importantly, with the spiritual sequel Dark Souls. What was, however, the most important feature of these games when they came to light? They had no competitors. There was obviously a lot of quality, but this one could stand out much more easily. Jumping forward several years, that's it The Surge, souls-like a tema fantascientifico: a game that does not make serious missteps but that certainly undergoes comparison with the greatest works that preceded it.
The Surge: a paralytic, a drone and an AI walk into a bar ...
The Surge is the latest work of Deck13 Interactive who, along with City Interactive, also worked on Lords of the Fallen. The title is available su PC, Xbox One e PS4, version we tested from top to bottom.
The Surge takes us into the near future where the world is close to ecological collapse: last defense is the Resolve project launched by the CREO company. Own our adventure will take place in the CREO factory. We will play Warren, a man confined to a wheelchair, arriving at what should be his new workplace. Obviously, things don't go exactly as planned and, after obtaining our own personal suit, we wake up in the midst of debris and crazed drones. With a makeshift weapon we will make our way up to a safe area: the operational station, or the bonfire of The Surge.
The main story is not particularly complex or interesting and we will proceed mostly by inertia from area to area, without asking too many questions about the reasons that push us to move. More curious, although never incredible, are some side missions and some audiologs that we will collect in the course of the game. The secondary missions are linked to characters that we will meet and who will ask us to deliver various materials to them. Also, at specific points, some television screens will show us small advertisements about the company that manages the factory: they are probably the most interesting starting point of the game at a narrative level, although some may be instinctively driven to ignore them, considering them only background noise.
Some technical aspects, including plays of light and suggestive atmospheres
In the course of the game we will explore a series of industrial areas, including assembly lines and chemical laboratories. On a technical level, the work defends itself very well for polygonal models, animations and textures. It also creates a great atmosphere especially when it takes advantage of the play of light in dark areas: Seeing the luminescence of enemy armor in the distance with the support of anxious music is definitely a good experience.
The frame rate tends to be regular, although it loses hits when we are going to destroy parts of the environment: nothing too frequent, however. Unfortunately the game suffers some crashes in specific points of the adventure: considering that it has already been patched several times, after all this time we will hardly see this problem solved. Even this is not very serious, above all thanks to the self-rescue that brings us back a few steps from where we were. The dubbing and the music are good on average, although they are nothing that remains imprinted.
The Surge: it’s over 9000!
Controller in hand we are faced with a system that is close, and therefore different, to what every lover of souls-like knows. The R1 key will not be the light attack, but it will allow us to perform a horizontal movement, while R2 will not be used for the heavy attack, but for the vertical one. By combining the two movements, depending on the weapon we use, we will be able to perform different combos. The dodges will be Bloodborne-like hops, although not as quick and smooth. Parries, always performed with the weapon equipped as there are no shields, are a move to be used sparingly as not all attacks are easily blocked.
The game features three bars: classic health, stamina (or stamina, in this case) and original energy. The latter is charged by attacking enemies and discharged if we remain passive: its main use is linked to one of the main features of the game, the amputation of parts of the enemy with the aim of obtaining the loot. We will come back to this mechanic later.
Our character, by defeating the enemies, obtains technological waste, or the souls (or the echoes of blood, if you prefer) of The Surge. Technological scraps are used to level up, craft and upgrade, along with specific items and pieces of equipment. However, we must focus on level up mechanics since it is totally different from what we are used to. Unlike Miyazaki's works, when we have enough scrap and level up, we will not get a point to assign to a feature: our level of nuclear energy will increase. This, basically, does not mark any change for our character: the level of nuclear energy only indicates the maximum amount of equipment that can be assigned to our character, that is the armor and the implants.
Armor, weapons and implants
The frame determine our defense and, when worn in a full set, allow us to have a unique bonus: faster stamina regen, less costly dodges, toxic gas resistance, and so on. The actual defense numbers (divided into elemental, slash, impact and lunge) will not be very relevant and therefore we will choose our armor according to the bonus effect we prefer.
The weapons instead they are excluded from this system and can be freely equipped. They feature scaling (i.e. an increase in damage linked to a specific statistic) based on the Proficiency characteristic of the type of weapon in use (one-handed, heavy, stick, single fixation and double fixation): the Proficiency improves using a weapon of the relative category, automatically. Weapons are obtained by amputating the enemy arm that holds them making their acquisition instantaneous.
The plants, having to make a comparison with the souls, they are… well, everything. There is the system that allows us to see the opponent's life points, there are those that contain cures, those that increase health, stamina or energy. Those that increase the discards obtained, injectables that give us temporary bonuses to damage and various other effects. In reality they are not very many as a variety, and besides we will find ourselves not being able to exploit them that much. The plants, in fact, cannot be equipped only according to our nuclear energy, but they will also depend on the number of slots available: initially we will have four and another one will be unlocked every ten level up, for a maximum total of 8. It will be possible to obtain new exuits during the game going to a maximum of 12 and then to a maximum of 16, but for half the game we will be stuck at 8 and in the final stages we will be able to reach 12-14 at the most.
The problem is that a large part of these slots will always be occupied by healing, health improvements and stamina. In theory it is a choice, but in practice it is absolutely mandatory as advancing with basic life points will soon be impossible for a normal player. This free system will only be exploited in a couple of situations, towards the final stages. Anyone who really loves seeing their character improve level after level will find an objective flaw in this system.
The Surge: three shortcuts and one leg
When we enter our character in the game environment we will find ourselves performing those actions we are used to. Explore the environment paying attention to the presence of enemies, retrieve objects placed in the most remote corners and open shortcuts to the boss.
An interesting mechanic, however repetitive, it is linked to the amputation of the various parts of the body of the enemies. It is possible, in fact, to fix the lock-on on a specific part of the enemy (torso, head and four limbs) and, using the right movement (horizontal or vertical), we will have to hit it repeatedly. If we are accurate we can cut it and obtain material to create and upgrade the part of equipment that the enemy was wearing. This will push us to take advantage of the movesets and the combos of the weapons, giving every single fight a little more tactic.. At the same time, however, it is possible to target those parts of the body that do not wear any armor so as to do more damage and get rid of the enemy more quickly: the choice is ours. Meeting a new enemy always means finding a new set of equipment: it is an intuitive, effectively realistic and satisfying mechanic.
Between one enemy and another we will also have to give ourselves a direction. Here it arises one of the gray dots of The Surge. By virtue of the rules dictated by the best From Software titles, each map will have an operational station (the bonfire) to which we will return several times to recover health, heal and to level. By exploring the areas we will open up a whole series of shortcuts (the short-cut) that will speed up the achievement of the various areas of the area in which we find ourselves. Geometric level, the task was performed correctly with a large number of passages and connections that, once well learned, will make the various areas of the playgrounds in which to run as you please.
The problem, in this case, comes from a visual issue: the multitude of identical corridors and the impossibility of seeing the whole environment with a single glance (which is often possible in Dark Souls) it will make it a little difficult to understand where you are going and how to go back. If you're one of those who tend to get lost after a couple of turns, you won't soon know where to turn your head in The Surge. Once the exploration has been completed and the surrounding area has been thoroughly learned, we will appreciate the conformation of the areas, but during the first patrols it will be complicated. Not only: exploring and understanding where to go is the core of The Surge. If in a Bloodborne the point is to be able to survive the base enemies and then the boss, in The Surge the feeling is that our real task is to find everything that is hidden in the environment. The bosses will only be a rare mishap (5 throughout the game and moreover only discreet as a realization) and the enemies, although it will often happen to us to be killed, will be only walking loots to be exploited to get a new armor or a new weapon.
Furthermore, The Surge has a strong backtracking component: during the game we will get the opportunity to visit areas previously closed to us and, if we want to make the most of the game, we will have to explore them several times.
The Surge: what comes next
Once the first run is complete, in a time that settles down around thirty hours, we will automatically be catapulted into the New Game +: little appreciable thing since we will certainly have left behind a whole series of collectibles and missions. The NG + offers some small changes: in addition to the obvious increase in difficulty they will appear in each area a couple of enemies more powerful and skilled than the classic ones. These enemies will wear more advanced armor and always a unique piece of special armor: unfortunately obtaining this piece is not certain as the enemies do not reappear after death and therefore failing on the first attempt means not having second chances.
Also, in NG +, it is possible to start upgrading weapons and armor again: in NG the maximum level is five, while in NG + we can reach ten. In general, however, it will be much easier and faster to advance for the second time in the game, since we will already know the way and we can easily run from one side to the other by immediately unlocking all the shortcuts: in less than ten hours we will have solved the NG +.
The Surge: Who Should Buy It?
The Surge is certainly not at the level of the great masterpieces of recent years, but this does not mean that it does not deserve a chance. The best thing to do is certainly download the demo which has been available for some time. If, once completed, we still have the strong desire to farm and loot, then we can consider The Surge a good buy for the lean moments in which we will not have other souls-like to exploit.
Certainly, if you enjoy farming materials and exploring intricate environments with a great sci-fi charm, The Surge is for us: if instead these two elements are the ones we least appreciate of this genre, then we can also ignore the game since we will find little else really intriguing.7.5 He tries and succeeds a little, but not fully
Points in favor
- Beautiful setting and atmosphere ...
- Original ideas ...
- The loot system is a drug ...
- ... but unclear in exploration
- ... but don't make the most of it
- ... but not everyone appreciates it