The Surge

PC, PS4, Xbox One


Lords Of The Fallen may have been heav­ily in­debted to De­mon’s Souls, but it built on From Soft­ware’s for­mula in a num­ber of mem­o­rable ways. The best of th­ese was the in­tro­duc­tion of a mul­ti­plier that saw the po­ten­tial XP you could reap from fallen foes in­crease the longer you re­sisted sav­ing at a check­point. It was such a good idea, in fact, that we can’t help but feel dis­ap­pointed by its ab­sence from The Surge.

That’s not to say the stu­dio’s sci-fi twist on the Souls tem­plate doesn’t have plenty of new ideas, how­ever. Here, XP be­comes scrap metal – col­lected from fallen ene­mies as well as crates and dark cor­ners – which you use to up­grade your rig and build new weapons and equip­ment. Pre­dictably, if you die you’ll leave a pile of your ac­crued junk at the lo­ca­tion of your demise and must re­turn to the spot to col­lect it, with­out dy­ing again in the process. But here there is also a two-and-a-halfminute time limit, af­ter which your mis­placed stock­pile will dis­ap­pear – though it can be ex­tended by a few sec­onds with ev­ery suc­cess­ful kill. It’s a smart me­chanic that can pres­sure you into rash de­ci­sions en route if you’re not care­ful, es­pe­cially given that there are no reg­u­lar check­points in the large sec­tion we play, just a cen­tral op­er­a­tions cen­tre in which to save your progress.

There’s fur­ther risk and re­ward built into the me­chan­ics of the game’s com­bat. Once locked on to an en­emy, you can tar­get their limbs, head or torso. Strik­ing un­pro­tected body parts will in­flict more dam­age, and have a greater chance of stag­ger­ing your op­po­nent. It’s a guar­an­teed way to end a low-lev­e­len­emy en­counter quickly, but you’ll only walk away from the fight with a hand­ful of scrap. If a par­tic­u­lar piece of ar­mour or a weapon that

they own takes your fancy, how­ever, you’ll need to fo­cus on the rel­e­vant, bet­ter­pro­tected part of your op­po­nent. This means pro­long­ing the fight as you try to wear them down to the point that you’re able to sever a limb and col­lect the now-wrecked piece of kit.

Do­ing so un­locks a schematic for a less dented ver­sion of the tech, which you can then build back at the op­er­a­tions cen­tre in ex­change for scrap and some spe­cific rare parts. Ev­ery piece of ar­mour – which will of­fer vary­ing amounts of de­fence against ele­men­tal, slash, thrust and crush at­tacks – and weaponry can also be up­graded through four stages, each one cost­ing ad­di­tional re­sources. Pro­tag­o­nist War­ren builds a per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing affin­ity with each piece of kit the more you use it, as in Nioh.

De­spite the weight of the metal ma­chin­ery adorn­ing War­ren and the game’s ene­mies, com­bat feels pleas­antly snappy. Rather than heavy or light at­tacks, the right shoul­der but­tons are mapped to ver­ti­cal and hor­i­zon­tal swipes. While the ver­ti­cal strike still feels like the heavy op­tion, tak­ing longer to wind up and deal­ing a lit­tle more dam­age in most cases, you’ll still need to pay at­ten­tion to the di­rec­tion of your swings to max­imise their ef­fec­tive­ness – a ver­ti­cal strike to the head is bet­ter than a hor­i­zon­tal one, for ex­am­ple.

War­ren will chain moves to­gether as you tap the two but­tons to form ba­sic com­bos – a punch, fol­lowed by two hits from the elbow be­fore a spin­ning kick, say – and when enough dam­age has been done to a par­tic­u­lar area you’ll be prompted to hold a but­ton to trig­ger a spe­cial at­tack. While th­ese are pri­mar­ily there to al­low you to sever limbs and net some loot, they also func­tion as fin­ish­ing moves, which you can use to your ad­van­tage to speed things along while farm­ing for scrap. You’re in­vin­ci­ble for the du­ra­tion of the move’s an­i­ma­tion, too, which makes it a par­tic­u­larly use­ful op­tion when fac­ing groups of ene­mies, like a Dark Souls back­stab.

The Aban­doned Pro­duc­tion area we ex­plore is mostly pop­u­lated by for­mer em­ploy­ees of scrap­ping com­pany CREO, who now lum­ber about like ro­botic zom­bies in their ex­o­suits. How­ever, there are also a num­ber of drones float­ing about, which de­ploy a va­ri­ety of at­tacks – ranged laser beams, for in­stance, and a close-range EMP blast, which in­stantly drains your stamina bar, leav­ing you vul­ner­a­ble – and two larger ma­chines. The first of th­ese is some kind of huge yel­low dig­ging unit, which promptly sits on us, fa­tally. We elect not to re­turn. The se­cond is a fast-mov­ing, bipedal se­cu­rity droid which has fea­tured in trail­ers for the game. Its long reach and abil­ity to leap about the arena makes it a for­mi­da­ble com­bat­ant, and the fight serves as a clear demon­stra­tion of Deck13’s be­lief that the term ‘ro­botic com­bat’ needn’t mean clunky.

Pro­tag­o­nist War­ren builds a per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing affin­ity with each piece of kit

Melee kills some­times play out in slow mo­tion, show­ing off all of the grisly de­tail

ABOVE You make con­tact with a CREO ex­ec­u­tive early on, who of­fers to help you. We’d rather go it alone than en­dure any more of the game’s voice act­ing

LEFT This se­cu­rity-ro­bot boss at­tacks with plasma cut­ters, stamp­ing and kick­ing feet, and a bar­rage of rock­ets. Tak­ing cover un­der­neath it when the pro­jec­tiles hit puts it out of com­mis­sion briefly.

BE­LOW We’ve yet to find any guns, but have come across var­i­ous saws, cut­ters and pipes. Com­bat is bru­tal

The aban­doned sec­tion of Creo’s fac­tory we ex­plore is an im­pos­ing, but rather colour­ful con­struc­tion

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