The Surge is a science fiction action role-playing video game developed by Deck13 Interactive and published by Focus Home Interactive for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It is considered a spiritual successor to Deck13 Interactive’s earlier action role-playing game Lords of the Fallen, with which it shares many gameplay features. Deck13 Interactive described the game as inspired by Rise of the Robots and the Souls series.
The Surge is designed in the challenging role-playing game style of the Souls series of games. The gameplay involves players using an exoskeleton to battle enemies. The exoskeleton can be customized through the game using “modular upgrades”, according to the developer. The combat allows players to target different body parts of enemies, as well as utilize finishing moves often ending in dismemberment in bullet time fashion.
The game takes place in a dystopian future where humans have exhausted the world’s resources, leading to strained social service and environmental diseases. According to the developers, the game paints a grim portrait of the future where the evolution of technology in relation to society and the environment has led to a decadent era for humanity. The proliferation of drones and working robots has created mass unemployment, with humans forced to resort to augmentations and powered rigs to keep up with a far more efficient equivalent.
The player takes control of Warren, a new employee on his first day on the job on board a bullet train towards the headquarters of CREO, one of the largest tech conglomerates now controlling the world, renowned for its revolutionary breakthroughs in a multitude of fields, from common household items to advanced exoskeletons. Its most relevant activity however is “Project reSOLVE”, ideated by its founder Jonah Guttenberg, which involves a complex chemical formula dispersed via rockets to slowly reseed the Earth’s damaged atmosphere, as well as boost the growth of flora worldwide.
After choosing a starting robotic rig, Warren (who uses a wheelchair) is prepared for surgical implantation of an advanced CREO exoskeleton, gone horribly wrong when the automated system fails to sedate him, painfully grafting each component until he passes out during neurosurgery. Waking up, Warren finds the facility in ruins, with drones attacking personnel and fellow workers prey to a deranged bloodthirst. Guided by an executive known only as “Sally”, Warren is forced to traverse the entire complex, up to the Executive Forum, in order to find out what exactly happened.
As the player gathers audiologs, meets different NPCs and explores the decadent structures, it becomes evident that Project reSOLVE is indeed working, but at a pace far too slowly to ensure mankind’s survival, along with unspecified long-term toxicity. Under pressure, the CREO board of directors chose to fast-track “Project UTOPIA”, which involved large-scale usage of nanites to achieve the intended result much faster, but at the expense of killing off 95% of the human race after its initial deployment. Battling his way into the Executive Forum and disabling its firewall, Warren is exposed to the truth about the plot and CREO: as the board of directors debated whether to launch or not UTOPIA’s rockets, its nanites became self-aware and, in an attempt at self-preservation, created a system-wide crash (the eponymous surge) that corrupted every human and machine connected to CREO’s network. The devastation destroyed CREO’s governing AIs (“Guttenberg” and “Sally” being two of them) and killed off its executives. As the last one dies, UTOPIA’s launch is authorized by the automated system.
Warren subsequently advances through UTOPIA’s launch platform in order to stop the rocket, until he is confronted by an amalgam of the nanites’ consciousnesses, the “Rogue Process”. Upon its defeat, the player is presented two different endings:
if a plot-critical audiolog was recovered and uploaded into the rocket’s payload, the nanites will be rendered inert. A United States Army squad is sent to investigate the now silent facility, succumbing quickly to its deranged denizens and a still alive Rogue Process. Realizing the danger, further military action is taken.
if the payload was launched intact, worldwide communication and radar equipment will quickly start to fail as the Rogue Process takes them over, dooming mankind.
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