It’s like Dark Souls… with robotic dismemberment, writes Heidi Kemps
Deck 13 is a developer that’s been around for a bit, but who really burst onto the scene through Lords of the Fallen, an action-RPG that took a fair share of influence from FromSoftware’s venerable Souls series. The game was warmly received, and now all hands are on Deck 13 again for another toughas-nails action-RPG adventure, but this time, we’re going to be fighting for our lives in the far-flung future.
The world of The Surge is that of the technology that shapes our daily lives gone awry. Corporations rule the roost, citizens live in a surveillance state, the environment’s gone haywire due to global warming, and the best you can hope for in life is to land a cosy manufacturing job at a governmentfunded firm that says they’re going to take care of that nasty greenhouse effect. That’s exactly what happened to our hero, William. But things have a terrible tendency to go wrong in these messy mechanical societies, and as William wakes up in the company junkyard enclosed in a powered, mechanical exoskeleton, he knows something’s gone horribly wrong. The robots have gone haywire, his co-workers (in their own powered exoskeletons) are attacking him, and the whole world seems to want him dead. Talk about the lousiest day at work, eh?
You’ll take control of William, guiding him through the surprisingly bright and colourful world of his former workplace. Exploration is non-linear, and while we only saw the junkyard in our demo, it was indicated to us that later areas would look quite different. The game’s still at a very early point in its development. William is free to roam wherever he wants, though certain obstacles – namely, enemies and barriers that require a certain level of 'Overcharge' power to open – can prove insurmountable at certain points in the game. In some cases, you’ll need to return to previously explored areas later on in order to pass an obstacle that you couldn’t overcome at first.
But while exploration is important, it simply wouldn’t be a Souls-style game without challenging combat. As you engage foes in primarily melee-based combat, you’ll utilise the typical array of strikes, parries, and dodges, all while keeping a careful eye on your stamina. You also have access to a 'combat energy' meter can be utilised in a variety of ways depending on what sort of gear you have equipped.
Said gear is a big part of the experience. When fighting enemies, you can choose to target specific points on their bodies. You can hack off heads, limbs, and mechanical appendages, claiming the gear and materials that once adorned them. Oftentimes, you’ll be forced to choose between quickly dispatching a foe or fighting it more carefully to claim the loot it holds. When you do get some sweet gear, you can take it back to your base of operations where you can further enhance it to suit your specific gameplay needs.
The Surge is still quite early in development, with only a vague 2017 release date given. From everything we’ve seen, however, it’s shaping up to be a solid sci-fi Souls successor and we're looking forward to more.
Brings new meaning to 'armed and dangerous'. Look at that thing!