Last month at Gamescom, we were given the opportunity to play Deck 13’s upcoming mechanized Action RPG, The Surge. Upon seeing the game at E3, we were blown away by the beautiful graphics and fast-paced combat and we couldn’t wait to get a chance to dismember some enemies and find out how the game plays. Having sat down with the game, we have a ton of impressions on what we experienced.
Immediately after picking up the controller and beginning the first stage, you will notice that the game world looks vibrant, moderately futuristic and very industrial. You begin the game as the protagonist, Warren (there is no custom charcters), who has just awoken from a blackout to find that things in his work environment have gone extremely wrong. The area is littered with broken machinery and your coworkers have similarly devolved into violent, zombie-like husks.
You work uniform is a mechanized suit that can be customized and upgraded throughout the game to transform it into a suit of destruction. Each limb, chest and head can be switched out, modified and enhanced. Players will collect parts to do this by dismembering enemies, using Deck 13’s new targeting system that works a lot like Bloodborne’s, only here, you can target various parts of the enemy while you remain locked on.
Players will have a certain amount of power to operate their suit, which can be increased as they accomplish certain feats and level their character. Heavier armor requires more power to operate, so players preferring to play a tank type character will have to sacrifice damage/health for raw armor. Implants equipped by the player will increase their attributes/stats, making their build take shape. If I remember correctly there is a total of 16 implant slots, and they are simply regulated by the amount of power you can use, so you will have to balance your power between armor and implants.
The Surge has check points that serve as crafting stations as well, giving you the opportunity to construct new weapons and armor, or swap out implants. Resting at/using these check points will respawn the enemies in the area, similar to Soulsborne games.
For those of you who played Deck 13’s last game, Lords of the Fallen, and felt the combat was too slow: Have no fear. The Surge’s combat is much, much faster, and is somewhat similar to Bloodborne in terms of combat speed. Deck 13 has added a dodge/dash mechanic as well, so you can fly around the screen with relative ease and strike your opponent quickly before dodging out of the way and repeating.
Weapons hit in 2 or 3 hit combos, with one button for vertical attacks and another for horizontal. These different attack types, instead of the traditional light/heavy attacks, help the player better connect with specific parts they wish to harvest from their enemies. Vertical attacks are also much easier to connect on against flying enemies.
As mentioned before, The Surge features a targeting system not unlike Bloodborne’s however, you can target specific parts of the enemy while remaining locked on. This allows players to aim for weaker/unarmored parts of the enemy, or aim for specific parts they wish to harvest. After damaging a limb or head enough times, players can hold a button when they are close to perform an automated finishing move that will sever that body part and award the player that armor/weapon, which can then be equipped.
The Surge possesses a similar feature to the regain/rally mechanic from Bloodborne, only with a slight twist. Successive attacks on an enemy will fill a blue technology bar, allowing the player to heal and use other abilities after reaching a certain threshold. The catch is that the bar will immediately start depleting if the player hasn’t hit an enemy within a couple of seconds. So it’s use it or lose it, and rewards a more aggressive playstyle.
The game also features a block/parry/reposte mechanic that is intuitive to use. Players hold a button which allows them to block for about 2 seconds (you cannot hold down block indefinitely). Any incoming attack they block in that time can be riposted for devastating damage, while simultaneously knocking down the enemy. Because the window is so long, it is very effective and it is something I expect may be adjusted before launch.
Enemy AI is relatively good and definitely challenging. The variety of enemies for the starter area was decent, with a miniboss present protecting a shortcut back to the beginning. Just like Souls games, minibosses do not respawn after being defeated. The boss of the area was a large mech that looked like something out of Robocop. It fired rockets and tried to crush you with its arms and by jumping on you. It took us about 4 tries to beat it and it was tougher than was expected. Just like Lords of the Fallen, you will receive better rewards for defeating bosses by meeting the challenge conditions for that boss.
With games that feature heavy lore and historical background like Nioh grabbing headlines, it’s easy to see why The Surge is still flying under the radar. It’s obscure setting and relatively unknown story are simply overshadowed by similar games in the same genre with larger budgets and more well known reputations. However, don’t let that dissuade you from giving The Surge a look. The combat is tight, fast and fun. It felt like playing Bloodborne while wearing a mech suit, making my way through and wondering what the fuck was going on.
Our anticipation to see more of the game, more of the story and background, and what brings it all together is building. With development progressing, The Surge has a real chance of taking Deck 13 to the next level as a studio and giving them a chance to break into AAA territory. We have been invited by Deck 13 to visit their studio, play the game and give them our direct feedback, so stay tuned for more information later this year!
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