Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: February 6, 2018
The Surge: Complete Edition is a third-person action RPG available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Deck 13 was originally founded as TriggerLab in 2001 when they developed Stealth Combat before changing their name to Deck 13 were they have developed Jack Keane in 2007 and a sequel in 2012 and numerous other games such as action RPG Lords of the Fallen, while publishing indie games such as the fantastic arcade racer Obliteracers. Can Deck 13 create an action RPG to rival the very best of the genre such as Dark Souls with The Surge: Complete Edition?
The story is certainly intriguing as a company named CREO is essentially involved in everything from everyday products to the future of Earth through space transportation. After undergoing a painful process in order to be fitted into one of CREO’s Exo-Rigs; your character (Warren) awakes to a machine informing him that he has been designated for disassembly. Despite only having a nearby reclaimed piston as his form of offence against disassembly machines; your character must overcome the odds to escape a derelict area and establish what has happened. A backstory is told via four sets of collectible audio logs hidden amongst the environments including recorded dialogue from characters about particular characters and certain situations.
Warren is initially confined to a wheelchair at the very start of the story, although CREO provides the opportunity for him to apply for their program involving Exo-Rigs as a lightweight, agile field technician named Lynx or a heavy operator that packs more armour and firepower named Rhino. Enemy design has a positive quantity of variation as there are disassembly machines capable of emitting an EMP to momentarily stun your Exo-Rig or a laser sighted gun with a shoot on sight policy and numerous enemy Exo-Rigs in all manner of shapes and sizes with differing lower, medium and higher powered weaponry and armour. There are five rather challenging enemy bosses with powerful, impactful weapons spread throughout the environments such as a large robot named P.A.X. that fires rockets which is reminiscent of Robocop’s ED 209 that you can walk past at first before you have restored power to the surrounding area, while the LU-74 Firebug is a wielding machine of some sort that has a whirlwind and flame attack.
Combat involves a fair amount of strategy and tactics such as deliberately targeting the weaker armoured areas of an enemy Exo-Rig as randomly hitting any area of an Exo-Rig will more than likely result in attacking an armoured area of the Exo-Rig that proves to be far less effective and may end in your character’s defeat on numerous occasions. Every attack or block utilises stamina which means that an attack or block cannot be performed after running out of stamina until it has at least partially replenished. Enemies will divert their full attention to destroying your character’s Exo-Rig as soon as they become aware of your presence and will launch at you when within striking distance.
Weapon proficiencies gradually increase in level as you defeat more enemies such as improving one-handed weapon proficiency when swinging a piston horizontally or vertically at enemies. Beyond the initial one-handed weapons; there are actually dozens of weapons throughout the one-handed, staves, heavy duty, single-rigged and twin-rigged weapon categories. Every weapon has their own unique statistics such as damage dealt to enemies, force of the weapon’s impact upon hitting an enemy, attack speed based upon the weapon’s weight, proficiency scaling to progress through weapon proficiency levels, energy gain, elemental damage, slash damage, crush damage and thrust damage. The combinations of statistics provide a real strategy element; for instance heavy duty weapon MG Judge 2.0 unleashes 106 damage on an enemy, albeit with a low attack speed, while the twin-rigged Claws of the Gestalt has less damage at 83 damage dealt to an enemy, but more than makes up for it with a high attack speed; therefore resulting in Claws of the Gestalt actually being the more effective of the two weapons. Drones can be acquired to fight for you that can be found at different locations including the Focused Infra-Blaster which is capable of firing an energy projectile at range, while the Emergency Coolant Vent produces coolant around the enemy to reduce movement and attack speed, alongside the Flamethrower Tank that burns nearby enemies as well as more unique drone models with their own unique attacks and power consumption statistics.
Tech scrap is important as it allows for your character’s power core on his Exo-Rig to be upgraded which eventually provides advantages upon reaching specific power core levels including an extra implant slot being unlocked when having upgraded to levels 15, 25, 35 and 45 respectively. However, a varying amount of tech scrap is required in order to upgrade the power core such as 395 tech scrap from an initial level of 10 to 11 before a further upgrade to reach level 12 costs 434 tech scrap which continues to gradually increase per power core level upgrade. Tech scrap is essentially the in-game currency which can be collected by defeating disassembly machines and enemy Exo-Rigs or collecting salvage containing tech scrap from your surrounding environments.
When visiting the medbay to replenish your health; there is also far more capabilities than upgrading your Exo-Rig’s power core; for instance the gear assembly station allows you to craft new gear, modify current gear and repair or upgrade currently equipped equipment. However, there is a significant price per upgrade such as upgrading a Goliath Class Rhino arm armour costs 788 tech scrap for a mark 1 upgrade leaping up to 4,728 tech scrap for a mark 2 upgrade; 8,668 tech scrap for a mark 3 upgrade and 12,608 tech scrap for a mark 4 upgrade. Every upgrade produces an increase in defense, while increasing impact on an enemy, alongside further factors such as stability of your Exo-Rig and core power consumption, although your attack speed may be reduced as a result of the increased weight of the upgraded armour.
Implant loadouts allows you to customise your Exo-Rigs’ capabilities beyond its armour and weaponry with three categories worth of implants including hardwired, hot-swappable and injectable, although every implant requires a certain amount of power core consumption and a minimum quantity of energy. For instance, a Rig Capacitor XL stores energy that kicks in when your energy has drained to 20%, while a fair quantity of implants involve healing such as the Aggression Amplifier that restores health when performing finishing moves.
Environment design is a fusion of futuristic technology and post-apocalyptic environments as there are debris scattered across exterior environments, while interiors include different types of factories, power plants and facilities in addition to the medbay. Your Exo-Rig’s power core level is utilised to overcharge certain electrical circuits in order to open large heavy doors that lead to previously inaccessible areas; ranging from level 10 overcharges that will immediately be able to be opened, while some require a bit of upgrading to level 11 or 12, although there are some doors that need as high as a level 55 power core before being opened. Another clever design choice within environments include a lift that your Exo-Rig can easily attach to allowing you to traverse upwards in particular areas of factories when anywhere from one to an entire group of enemy Exo-Rigs has you on the ropes during combat. It is worth breaking boxes and crates as some of them will be hiding a secret passage behind them which usually yields a decent quantity of tech scrap or materials utilised in crafting upgrades.
The Surge: Complete Edition contains a major expansion titled A Walk in the Park in which your character is tasked with defeating an entire theme park worth of enemies comprising of crazy rescue teams and robotic mascots in CREO World; a place that was once peaceful designed for CREO employees and their families to have fun and relax. Besides being a new environment to battle with new enemies; A Walk in the Park also offers a new enemy boss, 16 new weapons, new armour sets, new upgradeable implants and further customisation. Alongside A Walk in the Park; Complete Edition also bundles in the Fire and Ice Weapon Pack introduces 10 new highly technical state-of-the-art weapons with clues provided within a security memo and CREO newsletter to their locations in a style that is akin to a treasure map, while the CREO Special Employee Kit features a new Exo-Rig, injectable and implant. Every downloadable content pack is available separately for players that already own The Surge including A Walk in the Park priced at £11.99, CREO Special Employee Kit for £2.49 and the Fire and Ice Weapon Pack is free.
The Surge: Complete Edition’s remote play performance is on par with the graphics, audio and general performance of the PS4 version. The remote play control scheme has been fully optimised resulting in performing a vertical attack being re-mapped to the top right of the touch screen, toggle targeting between enemies moving to the bottom right of the touch screen and sprinting when moving mapped to the bottom left of the touch screen; therefore producing a comfortable remote play experience, especially considering that the horizontal attack and blocking enemy attacks are naturally mapped to R and L respectively.
The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the default control scheme consisting of pressing R2 or R1 to perform a vertical or horizontal attack respectively; pressing L2 to switch enemy target lock; pressing L1 to block an incoming enemy attack; pressing square to interact with an object or perform a finishing move; pressing O to use an injectable to restore health during combat; pressing X to dodge or holding X to sprint; pressing triangle to perform a drone attack; pressing left on the d-pad to cycle through weapons; pressing right on the d-pad to cycle through injectables; pressing down on the d-pad to toggle gear lights; pressing up on the d-pad to cycle drone skills; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move your character; pressing L3 to jump while sprinting; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to pan the camera and aim at a particular body part of an enemy Exo-Rig; pressing R3 to toggle target locking between enemies; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Tapping the touch pad displays your character’s inventory, while vibration occurs when your Exo-Rig is being attacked by enemies, although there is no light bar implementation which could have provided an alternative HUD for your Exo-Rig’s health.
There are two alternative control schemes that swap around the face buttons and d-pad and an entirely customisable control scheme to change the feel of the controls to your own personal preferences with a southpaw option that swaps the left and right analogue sticks around on any control scheme, while a further option swaps ducking and hopping from the right analogue stick to the left analogue stick. Such a quantity of control input customisation is an excellent design choice as it provides the player with the confidence of knowing that there is a definitive control scheme that will perfectly match their respective play style.
Graphically, The Surge possesses excellent character and enemy models which are complimented by amazing particle effects, smoke effects, lighting and shadows within equally impressive futuristic, technological and post apocalyptic environments. PS4 Pro support features dynamic 4K resolution at 30 frames-per-second or 1080p at 60 frames-per-second, while HDR support was integrated in a post-launch update for both PS4 and PS4 Pro.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the touch pad. Menu backgrounds focus on particles stylistically forming, while the player can pan the camera angle a little to any side.
Voice-overs mostly involve your character Warren, a woman communicating with Warren via the communication terminal and numerous audio logs in which every character is voiced in the appropriate tone to coincide with the current scenario of the story. Sound effects include utilising the gear assembly tools and medbay, electrical circuits being overcharged to open a new area, heavy doors opening, using a rail lift, the mechanical noises the Exo-Rigs make during movement and engaging in combat with disassembly machines, Exo-Rigs and bosses, alongside ambient sounds such as gusts of wind and nearby toxic waste bubbling. The soundtrack pretty much revolves around Stumfol’s edgy folk song Prisoner which is played during the medbay area. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation which could have produced the playback of audio logs.
The trophy list includes 47 trophies with 32 bronze trophies, 13 silver trophies, 1 gold trophy and 1 platinum trophy, alongside a further 10 trophies including 8 bronze trophies and 2 silver trophies for the expansion titled A Walk in the Park. Easier trophies include the I’ll Be Back bronze trophy when your character dies for the first time; the On My Own Two Feet bronze trophy for acquiring your personal CREO Exo-Rig; and the Sorry, I Dropped This bronze trophy for finding your lost tech scrap after your character dies. Harder trophies include the Follow the White Rabbit silver trophy; the Liberation bronze trophy; the Raging Drones bronze trophy; and the Evolution Theory bronze trophy for finding all four sets of audio logs; and the Sniffing Around bronze trophy for collecting all six issues of the Iron Maus comic book. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 20 to 30 hours to platinum the trophy list and a further 5 to 10 hours to 100% the trophy list for the A Walk in the Park expansion.
There are no difficulty levels, although the difficulty curve provides a challenge from the very beginning as you will have to learn all of the little tricks in combat to be able to defeat another Exo-Rig before gaining enough tech scrap to upgrade the quality of your power core, weaponry, abilities and armour which are all essential to any genuine progress in the story as enemy Exo-Rigs quickly improve in their respective weaponry, armour, speed and abilities that will put your Exo-Rig on the back foot without a significant upgrade on a regular basis.
Deck 13 has stated their preference as early as three months before The Surge originally released that the developer wants to add co-operative multiplayer in a post-launch update, although as of the launch of The Surge: Complete Edition; there is no local or online competitive or co-operative multiplayer and no online leaderboards. Split-screen co-operative multiplayer could have been implemented as a drop-in/drop-out feature within the single player story, although it could have also been a drop-in/drop-out online multiplayer variant as a public online lobby or invited friends. Split-screen competitive multiplayer could have followed two separate methods in which one player would take control of the lead character, while the second player was controlling and strategically positioning enemy Exo-Rigs, alongside a separate mode that would essentially pit the player controlling the lead character up against a gauntlet of enemy Exo-Rigs controlled by other players in an arena scenario. Both competitive modes would have also translated rather well into online multiplayer, while online leaderboards could have focused on the fastest times to reach each new environment and completing the entire story in addition to how many enemy Exo-Rigs had been defeated by each player in both the story mode and multiplayer modes.
The Surge: Complete Edition’s replayability stems from A Walk in the Park and further downloadable content bundled into the Complete Edition, alongside a fully upgradeable Exo-Rig across the power core, armour, weaponry and implants, while collectibles such as multiple sets of audio logs, six Iron Maus comic book issues and tech scrap is scattered throughout the environments that is collectively more than enough to keep players returning for many hours of unique gameplay.
- Title: The Surge: Complete Edition
- Developer: Deck 13
- Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
- System: PS4
- Format: Retail/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1
- Hard Drive Space Required: 7.28GB (Version 1.12)