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REVIEW: The Surge — ‘Elysium Meets Dark Souls’


Published by: Focus Home Interactive
Developed by: Deck13 Interactive
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre(s): Action Role-playing (Souls-like)
Mode(s): Single-player
Game Type: , , ,
85/ 100

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An appealing new concept for a familiar genre. Impressive lighting and detail. Sleek, fast-paced controls. Avant-garde combat system and character progression.


Recycled Assets. Perplexing interconnected maps. Limited weapon move sets.

Posted July 21, 2017 by

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There’s been a recent surge(heh) of Souls-like games lately, a term used to describe a subgenre that takes certain aspects from the Dark Souls franchise. Lords of the Fallen was among the first to emerge, and though it was nothing more than a proof of concept, Deck13‘s follow-up, The Surge, is looking to be a more ambitious contender. Will it be a Dark Souls killer or just another proof of concept?


The game is set in a heavily dystopian future. Cities are overpopulated and diseases are rampant. Technological advancements have made most jobs redundant, forcing people to head out to the suburbs to look for labor work. You play as Warren, a wheelchair bound individual who finds employment within CREO, the worlds largest tech conglomerate, as either a Field Technician or Heavy Operator, depending on which ever you choose. Just as he’s being outfitted with a company-issued exoskeleton, something goes horribly wrong and gets himself knocked unconscious.  Waking up at some random scrap yard with no clue as to what is going on, he finds himself surrounded by corpses, hostile machines, and deranged co-workers. As grateful as he to be able to walk again, he must use his newly restored ability to run, jump, dash, and fight for his own survival.

The best wheelchair in videogame history.

The game starts you off with as little information of the plot as possible, but as you make your way forward, you slowly unlock snippets of information of the lore through audio logs or visual clues. Eventually, you’ll come across a few sane NPCs, each with their own quest lines that are vague by design As the story progresses, you’ll soon start to uncover some of the darker truths behind CREO and the future of human kind. Without spoiling anything, you’ll have to make a decision that will determine the fate of humanity. Despite the weight of such a decision, I hardly felt any impact or sense of urgency when making a choice. Both endings also end so similarly that it’s hardly worth doing a completely second playthrough to experience both. Unless you were using a guide, you’re likely to fail some of the NPC’s quest lines on your first run. Redoing these quests and finding secrets you may have missed the first time are the only two real motivation to start another campaign.



Deck13 really learned a lot from Lords of the Fallen. The movements and animations in The Surge are a lot less stiff compared to the studio’s previous title. Dodging feels a lot more Bloodborne than Dark Souls, doing away with bumbling dive rolls and replacing them with quick and precise sidesteps and dashes. Attacking after a forward dash produces a quick forward lunge that’s great for in and out combat. Attacking in the middle of a sprint has Warren power-sliding towards an enemy, evading most incoming high attacks, unleashing a high-impact attack that serves as a great combo starter. You can still block attacks, and flicking the right stick up or down while blocking also causes Warren to jump over or duck in place, avoiding high and low attacks respectively. You can also do a special counter attack after a high or low evasive maneuver, but I hardly found any use for the blocking mechanics as its pretty much high-risk-no-reward as it’s not nearly as refined as The Surge’s dashing mechanics.

The Surge Review. Twin-rigged weapons are the best.

You can target specific body parts when locking on to enemies. Attacking unarmored body parts deals extra damage and impact (ability to stagger) but attacking an armor piece give you the opportunity to dismantle it for scraps and unlocking it for crafting if you haven’t already via an execution attack. The Surge ditches the traditional stat allocation upon leveling up, replacing it with a more item driven role-playing approach. Weapons, Gear, and Implants cost Core Power. You can only equip as much as your Core’s maximum capacity can allow. Leveling up increases your maximum Core power and unlocks new Implant slots when upon reaching certain levels. This way, your character’s main build is determined by your loadout as opposed to your stats. This way, you can switch your play style at any given time without ever locking you to a single build.

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Each weapon class has their own move set. Though some weapon types like the twin-rigged and polearm have smooth attack patterns, other weapons seem to suffer from the same stiff move sets Lords of the Fallen suffered from. All weapons you pick up pretty much just has the same move set as all other weapons from each weapon archetypes. Apart from the two special weapons that can be acquired at the end of the game, no other weapon has any unique moves or gimmicks. It is worth noting though that wearing a full equipment set activates a special set bonus. Besides the usual health and stamina bars, you also gain energy every time you attack. It decays over time but with enough energy, you can use it to activate injectables or perform executions. Eventually, you’ll unlock a companion drone that can attack and open certain paths for you. Unfortunately, the drone doesn’t really amount to much and is pretty much useless late game.

V I S U A L S  &  P E R F O R M A N C E

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The game’s setting is aesthetically reminiscent of 2013’s sci-fi flick Elysium starring Matt Damon. The Surge captures the whole dystopian future setting perfectly, popping in some sweet lens flares, chroma shifts, and motion blur to supplement the whole vibe. It’s impressive how Deck13 managed to pump out visuals of this level with such a small file size, with the whole game clocking in at only 6 GB. Though this is likely because the majority of the game takes place indoors and seems to recycle many of its assets frequently. Deck13 actually does a good job of reusing assets without making areas seem too dull and repetitive. Unfortunately, with the way the game interconnects its areas and the absence of any fast travel feature, it gets real easy to get lost and backtracking is a nightmare. Nevertheless, The Surge’s levels manage to prompt exploration and despite the futuristic setting, evokes the feel of a dark dungeon crawler that’s both terrifying and fascinating altogether.


If all Lords of the Fallen have accomplished is to prove that the God King can bleed, what The Surge did was damn near kill it. This game is no mere Dark Souls clone. It takes the Souls formula and infuses it with some fresh new ideas that are well-suited for the genre.  Deck13 may still have a lot to learn from From Software’s flagship titles, but now, the same is equally true vice versa. Nevertheless, fans of the genre would be remiss not to pick up the best Soulslike in the market right now. It’s not exactly a Dark Souls/Bloodborne killer, but who knows. Maybe Deck13’s next attempt might just finish the job.

[This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher]

Dian Raval

Dian is a writer for Flipgeeks who, in his spare time, stares at a wall in his basement. If you'd like to discuss music, video games, or the infinite wisdom of concrete, follow him on twitter @iburnandfume or subscribe to his YouTube channel @iburnandfume. He's pretty much iburnandfume in everything. Apparently he... burns and fumes.


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