Focus Home Interactive and Deck 13’s The Surge was a game I was looking forward to playing because of it’s unique limb-targeting and loot system. The game’s set up is pretty unique. You start out by watching a recruitment video for the Creo corporation, and then watch as the protagonist, Warren, clicks “join us.” Next thing you know, Warren is sitting on a train, headed toward Creo’s headquarters. You then wheel on out of the empty train platform, through an empty registration area, and have to pick your “class.” You can be a more agile Field Operations specialist, or go for the tankier Heavy Operations. Naturally, I went with Heavy Operations.
Then you go ahead and “join” the company. That triggers one of the more disturbing cut-scenes I’ve seen in a video game in a long time. Warren is strapped down to an operation table and you watch as the machines screw him into the exo-skeleton that you’ll use during the game. Sure, if you trust the dialogue of the computer system that’s currently operating on you, it thinks you’ve been sedated before it goes ahead and screws a whole lot of metal into your shoulders, hips, spine, and skull. That doesn’t stop you from being awake for the whole damn procedure. In terms of body horror, being operated on while awake is definitely up there in terms of things that will stop you sleeping at night, and it appears to come out of left-field. At least the first time you watch that sequence.
The lack of other humans around you becomes something of a relief once you wake up from your horrifically scarring procedure, but hey, Warren can walk again, which is apparently enough for him. From there on out, everything you encounter – from small drones to former factory workers like yourself to massive mechanical terror-beasts- it’s all going to try and kill you.
The game’s limb targeting and loot system is actually a lot easier than it sounds, and a bit less fun. You can either hack away at weak points or go for collecting a weapon – sometimes you can do both at the same time – but with the target-lock feature and your ability to scroll between targets on your enemies, it all becomes just a little too easy.
That’s not to say that the combat is simple or that you won’t die. If nothing else, this game has lived up to its “Dark Souls but with mechs” tagline in providing for rather punishing combat.
Outside of providing for a ton of body horror, brutal combat, and a decent amount of voluntary body modifications, The Surge is great at allowing you to steal weapons from anything or any one. Any weapon on an enemy is something you can target and steal. That’s some fantastic wish-fulfillment right there. Every gamer has sat through a boss fight and wondered why the hell they can’t have that kind of an OP weapon, and with The Surge you absolutely can. Sure, it isn’t unique in that. Any character you kill in Skyrim is lootable for all their weapons and equipment, but this adds a little something extra over just killing someone to loot their corpse.
You feel like you’ve earned that shiny new piece of equipment, because you took it from a living enemy the hard way.
The Surge also gives you a pretty decent amount of control of the game through optional settings. There are the usual inverted look options, look sensitivity, and brightness options, but you’ve also got the ability to determine just how much the computer will help you with that whole limb targeting thing. While the computer will generally do most of the targeting for you, you can turn some of that – or all of that- control off in the options to make things more difficult for you, since there is no difficulty scaling in the game. Everyone plays on the same field, so Deck 13 had to put in some provisions for you to make things a bit more challenging. So maybe you’ll decide to keep the target lock on, but you won’t have the limb selection triggered off your camera position, no matter what format you chose, you’ve got a decent amount of control over the way the game plays.
So if you like games that set out to punish you and want to check out a new loot system, The Surge is pretty ideal.
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