As I noted in my article about Bloodborne, Bloodborne – Frustration Triumph, my very first experience with a Souls like game, was Deck 13 Interactive‘s Lords of the Fallen, “which turned into one of my biggest game purchase regrets ever.” Indeed I was turned off the Souls like games by the experience, but then read that it was a poor example, and I did have a good time with Bloodborne. Despite that poor experience, when I saw they were developing a new Souls like game, The Surge, but based in a sci-fi setting, I still got excited for the possibility. I for one am willing to give a developer several chances to show they can do well, and so the question became, would The Surge impress.
I’ve done a couple hours now. I was out of town for the weekend, and my first day to play it I was busy with a game that’s under NDA (that one will get coverage once it drops), plus I was watching my kids for a few hours, all of which meant not much time yet with it. Still, I have to say, based on the first couple hours, I am far more impressed with this than Lords of the Fallen… it’s in all honestly not as impressive or smooth as Bloodborne was at the same point, but so far I have to say it has been fun. The game doesn’t shortcut and cheat, and mistakes are generally my own, like a proper Souls like game should be.
Here’s a couple of my streams (I’m still working on optimizing the PS4 streams… I have to currently stream from the console itself, so it’s less than ideal setup):
Trying the Surge [PS4] (19 May) This is the first half hour or so, while I was watching the kids, one doing some homework… still it was my first and last chance to play prior to the weekend.
Playing More of the Surge and Dying a Lot [PS4] (21 May) While I was busy most of the weekend, I did get home in time to do a short stream of the game, picking up where I left off before. After the stream, I played for a few minutes more.
So what can I say about it so far? It’s way too early to say too much. It is a fun game, and the combat feels right for the character. The level design is far more complex than say Bloodborne is. I also like the timer on the attempt to get your tech scraps, your currency in The Surge, like Blood Echos in Bloodborne or Souls in Dark Souls. You have a limited time to get back to your money before it goes away.
I really like being able to bank the Tech Scrap as well, so if you have lots of Tech Scrap, you can run back to the base, save it, and not have to spend it yet. This is something I’d love to see in the Souls like games… Bloodborne 2, Code Vein (Japanese site… English site still pending).
I do get frustrated by going back to the base, then leaving and having all the enemies reset, though I think that was the way it was on Bloodborne too, I just can’t remember. I’d probably prefer they only reset if you die, but then that would probably take too much of the challenge away. This is a good time to note your save points seem to be far and few between compared to other games in the genre.
I know from other streams I’ve seen, that the scenery seems too much the same later in the game, but I don’t know if I can fault it too much… yeah, it would be great if it jumped locations, for something new, say from the factory, to another that looked different enough, then perhaps a space station, but I don’t think I’d take too much off for that, and that’s based on what I’ve seen others play, not on my own play experience.
So it it worth it? As I said, I’m only two hours in, so I can’t really judge yet. If you really love Souls games, are interested in the setting, and like what you’ve seen in streams and YouTube videos, then don’t miss out. For everyone else, right now, based on what I’ve played and seen, I’d say, wait for a sale and get it, as it is fun, and makes enough changes to the formula to stand out. Right now on Amazon, The Surge is $60, and I’d say jump on it at $40 on down if the setting suites you, and once it goes under $30, other fans of the genre should jump in… if it goes under $20, then don’t miss it. I’ll obviously have to revise that after I’ve had more time with it, but I’m having fun and I seem to be on track to have near $60 worth of game fun out of it myself. It won’t upset Horizon Zero Dawn for Game of the Year so far… although I have hopes that Destiny 2 might score even higher than Horizon… All of which is sort of beyond the point. It is a good game, and I think Deck 13 has proven that Lords of the Fallen may have been a fluke.
NOTE: In the interest of honesty, I was provided a review code by a PR firm.