You know, I find the term “Souls-like” to be overused. It’s a handy descriptor for the style of game where hitboxes matter and every pulse-pounding encounter could easily wind up in controller smashing defeat. However, it’s become commonly used to refer to any game that is just hard. Hell, people call Darkest Dungeon “Souls-like,” and that game’s a turn-based RPG. People just slap it on like a badge of honor, proudly declaring that they are indeed HXC and that this game proves them as such. It’s unfortunate for people like me, who prefer the mechanics of Dark Souls over the perception of having “gotten gud.”
So when I say that a game is like Dark Souls, it’s because the game actually plays like Dark Souls: variable builds, obtuse menus, tight combat, bullshit traps, little notes telling you to praise the sun. You know, Dark Souls stuff. In that respect, Deck 13’s new game The Surge is “like Dark Souls.” I’m a tad bit uncomfortable putting that in writing though because from the looks of things, it’s closer to Bloodborne. I’d much rather call it a “Borne-like.” It’s a bit confusing, since Bloodborne is also Souls-like. So it’s not entirely incorrect that everyone is calling The Surge a Souls-like game, just inaccurate.
If this all sounds confusing, don’t worry; I made a video explaining myself. You can watch it here:
Cool, understand? All right, let’s get a bit deeper into The Surge.
As I stated in the video that you totally just watched, I got to talk to some of the team of Deck 13 about their upcoming title. Though the game is still far from out of development, they had a lot to say about their vision for The Surge.
Right off the bat, for a game that’s about hacking apart robotic power armors with laser axes, the aesthetic was more grunge than sci-fi. That’s because Deck 13 wanted to go for more “real” than high sci-fi. Taking the world of today, they asked themselves where they could realistically see technology, business, and the future of our species heading. This isn’t a future hundreds of years away, but the world we might be leaving our grandchildren.
It wasn’t aliens or nuclear war that ended the world. We kind of just use it up. Centuries of abuse and growing corporate control have left the earth just a shitty place to be. So humanity takes to space, hiring contract workers to go back down to the planet and tidy it up for everyone. It’s a very grounded, stark foundation for the story. It might seem like kind of a humdrum way for the world to end, with zero bang and all whisper. Don’t worry… the bang comes when the game opens and the robots go mad.
Waking up after some kind of event knocked you out, you find that those helpful construction droids and power suits don’t seem very interested in helping mankind anymore. In fact, they are far more comfortable using those tools to rip your delicate fleshy bits from your metallic powered frame. They didn’t say this yet, but some insight I got from the behind closed doors gameplay demo was all the other people are dead. Their frames, in more of auto-pilot, take control. All of the humanoid figures are limp and unresponsive, and the powered exoskeletons behave in various odd ways. Some are immediately outright aggressive, while others are just banging their heads into walls. There’s definitely more of the violent robots than the passive ones, but there’s some interesting story to be uncovered here.
This is where some hefty speculation comes in. I theorize that this is going to be something along the lines of SOMA, where the robots are experiencing some kind of emerging intelligence. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if you are dead the whole time and are actually playing as your robotic exoskeleton. All speculation here, but that’s what I like about The Surge. It’s presenting an interesting world that I just want to know more about.
Shelving the speculation, I got another hint as to a gameplay mechanic during the demo. Similar to Lords of the Fallen, you stack up an EXP multiplier for killing enemies without healing at a checkpoint. It’s a cool mechanic to see carried over, as it was one of the better innovations that game made. The demo itself was kind of short, and I’m sure you already watched the video, so nothing more to report there.
The Surge is releasing in 2017 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One; and you can be certain I will be reviewing it. Until then, check back in for more information as it develops. This is one that Souls fans won’t wanna miss.