You must’ve read the title and started to think of how many ways I am wrong. But this is not a blog trying to convince you why this game is better. I just wanted to share my personal experience and why I find my time to be better with The Surge more than the first Dark Souls. I could totally be wrong in my assessment, or maybe the later games have what I need, and that’s fine. So, let’s get into why I’m wrong.
Before getting into it, I will say that it feels unfair to be comparing these two games considering one is much newer than the other. The Surge is around six years younger, and because of that it is much more modernized. But my entire Souls and Souls-like experience essentially boils down to these two games, and I wanted to talk about how The Surge essentially saved me from ignoring this subgenre.
I want to get out the way that this has nothing to do with the game’s combat or difficulty. I’m not a fan of the weight system and slow rolling, but my issues lie in other aspects that will be harder to explain. Also, before anyone says I didn’t try, I have put around sixteen hours into Dark Souls.
The issues I had with my Souls experience, like I said earlier, is hard to explain. I know the aspects that make me feel this way, but the best way to describe what I feel while playing the game is that I have no clue where to go, what to do, and I constantly feel that I am playing the game wrong. So, I’ll deconstruct what I mean exactly.
The biggest issue was that I always felt lost in its world. I love the world’s design and how everything kind of flows together, but I found it hard to navigate its world. There were moments where I knew where to go (up to the Taurus Demon), but after that I felt lost. And that is where The Surge comes in. The Surge consists of multiple maps, and each map only has one quote-unquote bonfire called ops. While each map is open to explore, I feel that the different routes that can be taken either dead-end or flow back into a general path to follow. And the ‘one ops per map’ thing is important, because that general path has multiple connections back to ops. I know that Dark Souls has a similar aspect to its map, but I feel that The Surge does it better. It constantly anchored me to a central area, which sounded bad at first until I realized I never felt lost in the game. A good amount of my experience in Dark Souls was looking up a guide to see where to go next, and I only had to do that two times in The Surge (and both points were hidden). I find navigating this world to be much easier than Souls, and that for me is big.
I said earlier how I never felt like I was doing things right, and that feeling can be blamed on weapons and equipment. I never felt that I was properly picking up equipment as I went along. Was I picking up weapons and armor along the way? Yes. But I found that my gear didn’t change all that much from the beginning of my experience to the end. The Surge, on the other hand, has a built-in mechanic on this issue that makes it unique from other Souls-like games. This game has a limb chopping mechanic. How it works is that when you lock onto an enemy, you choose what part to lock on to (head, left arm, right arm, body, left leg, right leg). Each body part is either armored or unarmored, and if you want a piece of equipment then you aim for an armored piece. If you constantly hit at the armored piece until the enemy is low enough health, then you get the option to cut the limb off, killing the enemy instantly. When that happens, you get a blueprint for that item that can be built at ops. Weapons are obtained by slicing off the right arm. I really love this mechanic because of how easy it is to constantly get new armor sets and weapons. When I enter a new area and see enemies with new gear, I feel like I am window shopping at a distance, wondering what I want. Then, I go out and get that set until I find another. Throughout the game, I was constantly shifting armor sets around, and because of that I felt that I was properly playing the game.
Another thing that is different about this game is how your level works. In this game, your level is called ‘core power.’ You pick up scrap (souls) or try to pick them up again after dying just like in Dark Souls, and you put those scrap into your level or to upgrading gear just like Souls. But in this game, your level acts as a sort of consumable. Each armor piece you put on (head, two arms, body, two legs) uses core power. The other thing that uses core power are things called implants. Implants can give you various stat boosts or consumables. I like the leveling system because it got rid of weight and instead made it to whether you can equip the item or not (I respect but dislike the gear weight system in Souls) and I feel it streamlined a lot of stats down to a few essential ones. It allowed me to move around my implants, and thus my stats, to my liking and the stat boosts felt more impactful than leveling up stats in Souls.
The Surge is also filled with smaller aspects to its game that I enjoyed more than Dark Souls for other reasons than this game fixing my issues with the other. I really love The Surge’s setting of a futuristic world essentially ran by a mega-corporation. The game has a charge up ability where consecutive hits fills up a meter that either allows you to use certain consumables, use a drone that does a bit of damage, or chop a limb, and after a while the bar loses energy. I found this charge up mechanic to be a lot of fun to charge up and it allowed me to have more combat and health options that allowed me to stay out in its dangerous world for longer. And finally, scrap can be banked, which allowed me to save up for those really expensive upgrades.
I don’t think The Surge is a perfect game. Combat isn’t great, there is less gear, I am not a big fan of its second piece of DLC, and the game only has five bosses. I don’t even think The Surge is a better game than Dark Souls because Souls started a whole subgenre. But I do think that The Surge is the Souls experience I have been looking for. Its level design, limb chopping mechanic, and core power aspect made a Souls game I can grasp my puny brain around and enjoy. I may be totally wrong in my assessment and maybe these issues are ironed out in other Souls titles, but at the end of the day I have sixteen hours in Dark Souls and thirty-six hours into The Surge, and I can tell you which of those hours I enjoyed more.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Tell me about how I am wrong down in the comments below. If you are looking for a Souls experience but couldn’t find it in Souls for some odd reason, then I would recommend checking out The Surge and seeing if that game is that missing piece of the puzzle. And as always, thank you for reading.