Video game review: ‘The Surge’ falls short of its dark inspiration

Todd Hailstone

Two and a half stars

The Surge Reviewed on PS4. Also available for Xbox One and PC.

The Surge isn’t a bad game. Once again, Deck13 apes the popular Dark Souls series (see previous attempt Lords of the Fallen), with one set in an industrial dystopia. But the developer seems to fundamentally misunderstand what made players fall in love with Dark Souls in the first place.

The story starts well enough, before discarding everything that made it unique or compelling in exchange for heavily trod sci-fi tropes. And while the game sports clever level design with lots of shortcuts and secret passages, the drab industrial buildings and pipe-ridden corridors quickly become repetitive.

The Surge shines brightest during combat. The controls are tight and responsive, and once you learn a weapon’s move set, it’s fun to hack away at enemies and pull off impressively animated dismemberments. But enemies lack variation, so even fighting gets tiresome. With nothing else to prop it up, I found myself bored with The Surge after the second area.

Boss encounters do nothing to help. There are only five bosses in the game—four of them are giant robots—and all those fights are trial-and-error slogs that boil down to hitting the boss once and running for your life to avoid the counter attack.

There are also relatively few weapons and armor sets to obtain; secret treasure stashes rarely yield more than piles metal scrap used to upgrade your gear.

As with Lords of the Fallen, Deck13 has cast a double-edged sword with The Surge. Though the game might appeal to fans of the Dark Souls series, it will surely invite comparisons, and come out on the short end.

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