Deck13's The Surge has come from seemingly out of nowhere to become 2017's latest hit game. Essentially a sci-fi take on Dark Souls, this brutal action-RPG has you pilot an exosuit and engage in a challenging combat system. It's out now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
If the reviews are any indication, The Surge is scratching a serious itch for fans of both creepy sci-fi and demanding, skillful action games. Here's what critics are saying about the surprise hit of the year.
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Polygon's Philip Kollar said that The Surge "may be the single biggest surprise" of 2017 so far, giving big praise to the title's challenging gameplay and distinct atmosphere.
"The Surge builds a masterfully creepy atmosphere"
"I spent plenty of time cursing Deck13 for [the game's] traps, but there’s no denying the satisfaction I felt with each inch of progress won."
"The Surge’s only truly bad moments come when it plucks away that sense of control, demanding obscure strategies without any signposting."
IGN's Jon Ryan was largely high on The Surge, complimenting the game's dynamic combat and over-the-top dismemberment system. However, he called out the game's story as a weak point.
"While campaign’s story lost the ability to motivate me five or 10 hours before I finished it, I found the combat itself enjoyable right up through the end."
"The most interesting part is the dismemberment system, which not only finishes off opponents in grisly cinematic fashion but also lets you harvest new gear for your exo-suit"
"The main story is a fairly predictable excuse for clomping from spot to spot. "
VG24/7's Sharif Saed was very conflicted on The Surge, calling it a strong take on the brutal action-RPG genre that suffers from some of the same frustrating flaws as Deck13's previous game, Lords of the Fallen.
"The one thing The Surge does very differently and the thing that’ll immediately stand out, is the combat."
"There are enough inconsistencies here to ward off the faint of heart, but there are also moments of brilliance that no other game in this sub-genre offers."
"[The upgrade] system, although novel, is unnecessarily complicated."
"Running around levels over and over can be bothersome, but the drop in quality in the second half of The Surge is the real issue here."
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PCGamesN's Jordan Forward called The Surge "firm but fair," praising its tough yet satisfying melee combat and memorable world design. He did note, however, that the game ends just when things are really starting to heat up.
"CREO feels like it was torn straight out of the same universe as Neill Blomkamp’s District 9. While The Surge won’t win any awards for its graphics, it is a remarkably good-looking and visually evocative game."
"Combat is where Deck13 Interactive have shown the most growth since the rather mediocre Lords of the Fallen."
"I completed the game in roughly 30 hours, but couldn’t escape the feeling that it came to an end just as its systems, environments, narrative and challenge were reaching their respective boiling point."
Metro's GameCentral crew calls The Surge a Dark Souls homage that's "almost as good as its inspiration," praising the tight combat and smart level design but coming down on the bland story.
"What’s particularly significant is that The Surge manages to copy the Dark Souls style of combat much more accurately than Lords Of Fallen, with more fluid action and clearer and more consistent tells from enemies before they’re about to attack."
"And then there’s The Surge’s most significant new idea: the ability to target individual body parts on an enemy. This is a great risk vs. reward mechanic that constantly tempts you into biting off more than can chew, but leaves you with no one to blame but yourself if it goes wrong."
"The game wastes much of the setting’s potential on a world that has none of the variety or grandeur of the real Dark Souls."
"The Surge is a good game, but it’s so similar to Dark Souls that recommending it depends almost solely on your history with that series."
Image Credits: Focus Home Interactive
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Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.