We recently showed you four minutes of gameplay of the Surge, but there wasn't an awful lot to go on. We had little backstory and only the four-minute trailer to glean information from.
Now, The Surge has a confirmed release date of May 2017, and we have a new trailer:
What we know about The Surge so far
The Surge is set during a time when the Earth is dying. Whether it's dying in strict planetary terms of "oh no, the molten core of the planet is solidifying and cooling", or civilization is becoming unsustainable, we're still not sure. The former isn't due to happen for another few billion years (which is fine by me!), and the latter is a possibility we're already on the brink of (at least if you're a pessimist). Aging populations and illnesses becoming untreatable and replacing the humanly populated workforce with machines is something we're seeing today. People say games aren't political!
Deck13 has obviously been thinking long and hard about the potential future of our own civilization, and it created the Surge.
The company's vision for The Surge is near-apocalyptic. In order for us to even have a protagonist during this struggle for existence, humans are combining themselves with cybernetic and exoskeletal upgrades to make them more efficient and reduce their growing redundancy.
Deck13's first try at the hardcore action genre, Lords of the Fallen, was lauded by some as a "shameful" Dark Souls clone, but it ended up being a decent hardcore action game. It was always going to be hard to shrug off the shadow of Dark Souls, let alone contend with From Software as a "breakout" developer.
I think it's important that developers like Deck13 try to spread their wings a little and branch out and try to claim their own pieces of this largely uncontested hardcore action RPG pie. I think there is some reticence to get on board with Deck13 given its relative inexperience in this genre, let alone the console. Deck13 is most well known for its work on the Ankh games on PC, so this is a whole new market for the company to tackle. But I don't think we should discount Deck13's contributions to gaming.
From Software has been at the top of this market for almost a decade (and it has been in the game for almost 25 years), and it has set the bar high. Xbox gamers are at a disadvantage when it comes to the hardcore action games available. From Software has the market covered on consoles, from Demon Souls on PlayStation 3 (PS3) to the three Dark Souls games and Bloodborne on PS4. So when it comes to hardcore action RPGs, the only one on Xbox One until Lords of the Fallen, was Dark Souls 2.
An underdog worth rooting for
Fans of Dark Souls should keep their minds open. Japanese developers of Dark Souls and the Western developers of The Surge root their ideas in the same waters but grow two completely different flowers. If Dark Souls is a rose, the Surge will be a thistle, just as prickly and difficult to handle but fundamentally different.
Dark Souls has become the game where you're the best of the best if you can near-perfectly kill any boss, in no armor, and in some cases blindfolded, without getting hit. Deck13 seems to have a different approach, where you know you can still get tanked at any moment and you can try to avoid attacks, but mostly you have to take a beating to make progress.
Deck13 has a large shadow looming over it, but isn't it refreshing to see a company try to move the genre forward and bring some new ideas to the table? Will those ideas be any good? We have no way of knowing, but we're rooting for this underdog.