The Surge: Limb Theft and Power Armor

Unlike some other Adam Smith who used to see invisible hands all over the place, Adam Smith from Rock, Paper, Shotgun deals with limbs in a more pragmatic and direct fashion. After playing the preview version of The Surge, a sci-fi action-RPG, he editorialized about how the limb-crafting mechanics, among other things, make it stand out in the crowd of wannabes striving for the top spot, now that From Software is seemingly done with Dark Souls.

The preview build was by no means extensive or representative of the final product, but the general impressions so far are quite positive. Here’s an excerpt:

Deck 13 have previous [experience] in the Souls arena, having previously created Lords of the Fallen, a fantasy RPG that had more than a little of the bonfire knights in its DNA. The Surge feels tighter, punchier and more confident in its own twists on the formula though.

The most important of those twists involves ripping off arms, legs and heads. When you lock on to an enemy, you can target specific body parts with a nudge of the left stick, and rather than being a gimmick for brutal finishing animations, the limb-lopping feeds into the crafting and loot systems. For plot reasons, you’re trapped inside an industrial rig that’s gone a bit haywire and the best way to upgrade it is to nick the body parts of similarly rigged-up folks so that you can slap their bits on top of your bits.

Essentially, that means if you see a chap with a chainsword attached to his left arm, you’re probably going to want to cut that arm off so you can have a chainsword attached to your own arm. Anyone in a sci-fi world gone mad who doesn’t make a beeline for the nearest chainsword is a wrong ‘un, I say.

By the end of my half hour I wanted more. My character was like a patchwork quilt of chunky great sci-fi weaponry and armour, which is to say not very much like a quilt at all. He looked – and maybe it’s the Games Workshop influence elsewhere in the building leaking in to my thoughts here – like a hastily glued together conversion of an Imperial Guard figure, with bits taken from boxes containing various Space Marine factions stuck onto his face, chest, arms and legs. I was chasing a chest upgrade, which involved harvesting lots of pieces of enemies to get enough scrap (the currency/experience of the world, lost, like souls, on dying) and specific parts.

The repetition loop that is a fundamental part of a Souls-like is a way of harvesting the gear needed for upgrades. You need a blueprint, enough scrap and a set number of the part you want to replicate. It’s a satisfying loop, at least in the early stages, and that’s not just down to the strength of the combat.

Visually, The Surge isn’t sci-fi Dark Souls at all. It’s bright, colourful and a little bit cheeky. All the plot stuff was discarded for the preview session, so I could get to grips with the game, but recorded voices blare out of loudspeakers warning about safety protocols, while every employee tears holes in his colleagues and reduces them to scrap. It’s a bit Aperture Science and even though there’s extreme violence, it feels more like 2000AD than Miyazaki’s dark fantasy with a splash of chrome and petrol.

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Val Hull
Val Hull

Resident role-playing RPG game expert. Knows where trolls and paladins come from. You must fight for your right to gather your party before venturing forth.

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