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The Surge review
by mentalmynx

Platform: PlayStation 4

Playtime: 5h 14m

Completion Date: It's too boring to complete 😴

Popular Review: "The Surge had potential, but its excellent combat systems are baked into a game that can’t do them justice. The repetitive and drab environments are a huge hindrance, and when combined with a confusing network of corridors, hallways, and ledges, it’s easy to become frustrated, misled, and lost. You may find some fun experimenting with your attack options and the smooth framerate on the PS4 Pro does help to make that a better experience but expecting anything more than that will only set yourself up for disappointment." - Push Square

My Review: I really wanted to like this game. The one big problem with The Surge's narrative is that it closely follows the Dark Souls textbook on how to tell stories and convey essential plot beats. In this regard, the story is vastly obscured, and I had a vague idea of what was happening and where I needed to go next. It's a deep shame because I was curious about the backstory for The Surge's world and some of the dialogue writing was very well done.

On the combat front, The Surge's combat system is not bad. Executing weapon combos feels satisfying and blitzing enemies who once blitzed you just feels fantastic. Where The Surge distinguishes itself is how you fight enemies and how you acquire new weapons, armor, and resources. While in combat, you can target specific areas or limbs of most enemies to either deal more damage (against unarmored limbs) or generate more Energy (by dealing less damage but striking the enemy more often). In the heat of battle, you can freely and quickly change the specific limb that you're targeting to interrupt enemy attacks or generate more Energy when needed. Once your Energy meter is filled enough, you can do a finisher on an enemy's body part to gain new armor schematics and weapons. To get more resources to upgrade your armor and weapons, you simply must target the corresponding limbs from which the armor piece/weapon came from. In this regard, The Surge introduces a new concept to not only Souls-likes, but games in general.

What I really don't like about The Surge is just how unnecessarily difficult it can be at times. In the early hours, I expected the usual fare of learning from my mistakes and through trial-and-error until I improved. At this point of the game, I didn't mind the difficulty curve, especially in the game's first two sections. However, the further I got, the more I didn't like how Deck 13 implemented certain difficulty spikes that felt outrageously unfair, as if someone had suddenly turned the dial up from 4 to 11. These difficulty spikes manifest themselves in the form of certain enemy types, most notably the scorpion-like quadrupeds who can cleave your health by 70% simply by leaping at you from 30 to 40 metres (and who are also heavily armored, meaning that you're attacks do diddly squat against them) and the other enemies who can kill you in one or two shots. What's even more frustrating is that these levels of damage dealt against you completely ignore your health and armor stats. 

In the end, I can't recommend The Surge. It's a thing that ticks me off immensely because I love the game's combat system. It's a real shame for Deck 13 because they could have crafted a great game that pays homage to its inspirations whilst being more fun due to its greater degree of accessibility. Instead they tried to walk the path of being 'Darker than Dark Souls' and ended up walking the plank to failure and unlikability.
«Disappointment of the year»
«Waste of time»

Other reviews4

This is like the fifth Souls game I've played and they all boil down to the same uninteresting formula: leave Medbay (the equivalent of bonfires), poke at the edges of the map (or rather, find the breadcrumb trail of enemies you can actually beat) to find where you're supposed to go, get a little bit further, maybe upgrade once in a while, die, repeat. Branching off of that, the setting of this game is simultaneously its best part and its biggest downside. With the limb targeting, you can loot different parts of armor and weapons and upgrade in a more self-directed fashion. You have implants that give you different bonuses - additional healing potions, health upgrades based on your core power level, drone upgrades, health when you use finishers - but use the same pool of core energy that armor does, so you can't upgrade too quickly. It's a cool system that gives a lot of variety. And I just like the setting - on one hand it's a bit too Dead Space, on the other at least it's not yet another rehash of Dark Souls. But as quickly as the second area, you start facing enemy mobs that are less and less humanoid, and the limb thing goes out the window. You start facing trash mobs that can tank way too many hits. They're not difficult, they just take too fucking long. It's one thing when it's a big boss fight, it's another when you can't walk five feet without having to spar for another twenty minutes with a trash mob. Like the basic structure is still there, but it just reveals how repetitive and banal it is that much quicker. I don't have the patience to fight the same drawn out welder bot fights over and over just to plod along a Doom 3/Dead Space plot retread and I genuinely question anyone who does.

Like Lords of the Fallen, I at least appreciate that they seem to be trying a regular RPG formula with dialogue options and everything. That's a much needed improvement on the Souls franchise that's been sorely missing since the beginning.
The Surge is a souls-like with a unique limb-targeting system, but everything else feels bland, slow, or unfair.

It's a shame that The Surge didn't play better, because its high tech industrial world was pretty cool looking, and by the end of the game I was genuinely interested in its intricacies and the story's resolution. The bulk of the gameplay, too, was genuinely good. The exploration was satisfying, the resource management felt good, and the build variety was enough to make me feel like I was doing my own thing.

The bosses, however, were awful. (Which, for this genre, is a deal-breaker.) The whole "target their limbs" stuff worked great, but someone responsible for balancing the game decided to make all bosses deal insane amounts of damage, even if you opt to go for the slow but supposedly sturdy armor. Add on the fact that there were very few actual bosses (maybe 5, if I'm remembering correctly), and it made for a disappointing rather than satisfying feeling every time I encountered and defeated one.
Combat could have been better, but I understand that it may have just been my playstyle (single-rigged weapons) that felt slow and clunky. I did very little experimentation beyond heavy weapons, as that's my preferred weapon type. I never got to max level and likely will never return to see what's behind the literally level-gated content.

Overall, it was worth the price I paid, but it wasn't worth the frustration I put into it.
Translated by
Microsoft from Deutsch
First off in front, "The Surge" is MegaGeil!!!!!!!!!!! Ok, not exactly very meaningful, so I try to explain it and do so without this constant and annoying comparison with Dark Souls. (Of course I too have to compare) Don't Get me wrong, I've played through Demons Souls, all three Dark Souls Parts and Bloodborne and spent a great many Hours in those Games and can only say I love those Games ungicularly. It is clear that The Surge is logically compared to Dark Souls, because it uses fundamentally the same Game Mechanics as Lords of the Fallen has already done (From the same Developer). By comparison you will always notice Points that you liked better in Dark Souls, but hey You forget one and at that-that's not Dark Souls, this is The Surge and so wants this Game to be understood as well. It's a great Homage to the Dark Souls role model and doesn't reinvent the genre, but just as The Surge does, with the grand post-apocalyptic Atmosphere, the intense and heavy Fights, the nested level architecture, the great graphics and the fresh Ideas in The Genre (Implants, Exoskeleton, finishing Moves, Drones companions) Makes it just feel Good and at least motivates me to Keep Playing. Maybe it's just down to me as well and I'm a bit old-fashioned, but this Game just makes me feel good. The Animations are not at all hairy, as some claim here, but very supple (motion capture). The Hit boxes are very accurate. The Fight is fast and dynamic (more like Bloodborne), even with heavy Weapons (E.g. Titan Hammer) and heavy Armor (E.g. Rhino), the Dodge is still quite brisk. The Fights are demanding and the Opponents do a Lot of Damage, but real Souls Veterans should actually know this. It is true that by one or two Hits by the Opponent you bless the Temporal, but that's how it has to be, this is a Hardcore game and for some it's too hard and even too easy for others, because as with Dark Souls you can defeat the Opponents relatively easily, If you know their Movement pattern. So it is with Souls, but with The Surge that's Suddenly unfair and a Minus Point. I don't understand....? Dear Souls Veterans. Have You forgotten how many times You have died at the Beginning of your first Soul Adventure, until You understood the Basic Mechanics and then mowed the Enemies around in rows. Have You forgotten how many times You have cursed and preferred to have thrown out this "unfair" game to the Window? But then came that moment when the Tide turned and you got better-and why? .... Well, because You stayed tuned, because You fought and didn't give up. So it is with The Surge, so give Yourself a twist and dive into the Game to compare a WITHOUT IT SOULS AND You will have a Lot of Fun with the Part as I have it. It has to be said, in fairness, that the Setting is not For everyone and I think this is where the Problem lies. Many Players have hoped for a Dark Souls in the Sci FI Setting without any Innovations. Then it would have poured in: "Öhhh, that's just Dark Souls in the Future, fully copied." Yes, it would have been the same, but The Surge is a standalone, great Game that exudes all its own Charm at all Corners and Edges and I think that's good;-) With me it took about 2-3 Hours of Play until I had filled myself in there, but now I like the Game Mega Very much. The Atmosphere in the gloomy Factory Halls or in the Outdoor Areas is really great and intense. The Fights provide a fulfilling Feeling when you really disassemble the Enemies and knock Off Body parts to get to the Armor. You can switch between all Weapons and change your Style of play so many times, which is very varied. You can line up combos, which can also change due to the targeted Part of the body. The Root is not overly massive, but rather useful. Scrap metal replaces souls. The MediBay Station is the Beacon and Shortcuts in the Level are also available. If you think of The Surge As a standalone game, you realize that Deck13 has improved and optimized a lot in Terms of its Predecessor (Lords of the Fallen). The Surge focuses its Game Pass formula on the Fights, Collecting scrap metal, Armor And weapons, and the great Areas with the nested Level architecture. All in all, all this seems very round and well thought out and for that you just have to give this Game a Thumbs up. Thank you Deck13 for this great Game and a lot of Success going forward. Think About whether The Surge Is also Something for You and give the Game a Chance:-)