A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Surge is a science-fiction action role-playing game. Players will face off against large numbers of robots and robotically enhanced humans. There's a heightened focus on violence, as players perform finishing strikes that spray fountains of blood, as well as severed limbs, cries of pain, and explosions. The steep difficulty of the gameplay will frustrate some gamers.
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What's it about?
Set in a dystopian future, THE SURGE is about the displaced human race that has been made redundant by advances in technology. Those who remain in the overpopulated cities need to work to survive, though survival is short-lived as the population is aging and diseases are spreading more and more. You play as a new job applicant, outfitted with an exoskeleton to improve efficiency. Something goes wrong in the procedure, and you come to in the desert, only to find no humans around. You have to figure out what happened and survive.
Is it any good?
This action game's problems surface early and often, so you have to decide whether you want to try to tolerate them or move to something different. To be clear, The Surge isn't merely a bad game; it's just a confusing and unrewarding one. After the tutorial and intro areas, the game continues to spike wildly in difficulty. There's no map, and each area's general mission is to kill all enemies, flip all switches, see what that opens, and repeat until you reach a boss fight. As a result, you can wind up feeling completely lost and under the impression you've done everything there is to do. Since there also isn't a way to quickly move from area to area, you'll be left in the dark the farther you go, as the only way to go back is to literally run through the whole world to do it.
The Surge is intending to pay homage to other, recent, popular games such as Dark Souls, which is apparent in its interesting though shallow approach to combat and leveling. Rather than give you a weak and strong attack, you have a horizontal and vertical strike. You target different limbs on different enemies and can switch those up on the fly, trying to find their weak spot. But moving around while attacking never quite comes together enough to feel intentional and precise -- even if you're adept, it will feel sloppy. Boss fights, similarly, feel more unfair than a challenge: They can kill you in one hit, and even in a faster armor class, you'll get done in. The Surge plays with a lot of ideas, but unfortunately they don't quite come together.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games. Could this game have presented violence and action in a less brutal fashion? Would it change the gameplay significantly?
Talk about why people are seemingly obsessed with the apocalypse. Do we try to make sense of our lives today by imagining how it might end, or is it a distraction from focusing on other parts of reality?
The game focuses on a dystopian future scenario where mankind has exhausted the world's resources. Species have gone extinct, so do you think our resources can also be depleted? What might happen if that comes to pass?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $49.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Focus Home Interactive
- Release date: May 16, 2017
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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