Set in a distant dystopian future where mankind has fallen from grace after becoming too dependent on technology, The Surge, the latest effort from Lords of Fallen devs Deck 13, is an enthralling mix of Souls-like combat and fresh new mechanics.
Instead of being handed creative control of your character, you step into the shoes of Warren, as he makes the journey to start his first day of work at CREO (a major corporation that is driven to influence global change). But before he even has the chance to make a great first impression at his new job, Warren finds himself at the centre of a chaotic incident and blacks out as robots and other workers within the facility have gone haywire and are desperate to spill his blood. This is all the introduction you're given and then you're left to assemble the jigsaw-like narrative through audio logs and conversations with other survivors. While its narrative does prove to be thought-provoking, protagonist Warren lacks a sense of depth and we felt little connection to him as a character. With this lack of complexity, it does beg the question as to why the developers didn't allow us to create our own protagonist.
Before sending you spiralling through a whirlwind of emotions, The Surge eases you into its mechanics, decorating its environments with sprawling rows of texts. The combat, like that of its peers, requires you to study your opponent's movements, mastering dashes and blocks and striking when the time is right. The absence of ranged weapons forces you to get up close and personal with your foes, always leaving you inches away from death. There's also a range of different weapon types to keep combat varied. Everything is melee focused, and your arsenal includes heavy weapons, staffs that allow for more fluid movement, and double handed weapons that leave little damage but allow for blistering speed. Each weapon also comes with its own stats differing in attack speed, power, and impact, and there's plenty of different weapons to be found.
Straying beyond the Souls blueprint, combat features a targeting system similar to Fallout's V.A.T.S, where you target individual enemy limbs. So if you're aiming for a swift victory you can attack them where they're unarmoured and you can even hack off their limbs to salvage weapons and armour. To loot their gear, you must hit them in the desired region until you're prompted with the square button (on PS4), which will trigger a gory execution. We found this mechanic particularly exciting as it transformed our exo-suit into a walking trophy case, showing off the best gear we'd "found" on our journey. That being said, we found switching between limbs with the analog stick to be a little slippery, as at times it would jolt unexpectedly between targets.