From Deck 13, the same studio that brought us Lords of the Fallen, comes action RPG The Surge. Set in the near future, in a world dominated by robots and technology, you play a factory worker who gets caught up in a nightmare scenario – his fellow employees have all gone mad and are laying waste to everyone around them. To survive the carnage, he needs to learn how to fight quickly, laying his hands on any weapons he can find around him.
As with Lords of the Fallen, The Surge follows the same tried and tested formula that was first introduced back in 2011 with Dark Souls. This basically means two things… 1; the gameplay will no doubts be spot on in the playability stakes, and 2; if it is anything like its predecessors, it will feature a tough-as-nails difficulty level. We recently caught up with Deck 13’s Creative Director Jan Klose in Paris to find out more about what the future holds for this promising title.
GameWatcher: As opposed to Lords of the Fallen, The Surge features a futuristic, science fiction setting. Can you begin by telling me a little about the game’s storyline?
Jan Klose: The interesting thing is that at the beginning of the game, you don’t get to know a lot of the story. The setting is really interesting because we really wanted to paint a picture of the future from our current perspective. There are a lot of games out there that use this 1980s approach to the future, revolving it around cyberpunk and that stuff. We really wanted to take it from today and ask what will happen in the next decade, and what will that lead to. What will happen if everything goes down the drain, what would the future look like then? You have jobs, you have companies and the economy, but what will happen if this all takes a really bad turn? This is where we start the game. You play a character who is lucky to have gotten a job in an industry dominated by robots. He is a heavy lifter for a company, so he has this exosuit to do his job and also has implants in his brain to enhance himself. Suddenly there is a huge blackout and you wake up and don’t know what is happening. So at the beginning of the game it is up to you to find out what is going on and what caused that to happen.
GameWatcher: Why is the game called The Surge?
Jan Klose: That’s a tricky one to answer because it’s a little bit of a secret. Let’s just say it is something that happened in this game world. You need to find out what it really is, what its impact was and why it happened.
GameWatcher: How does the story develop in the game? Are there cutscenes that explain the progress you make?
Jan Klose: We have what we call composed events – events where a lot of stuff is happening, but we are not stopping the action. We never have cutscenes that you view and then are back in the action, because that feels strange a lot of the time. You can be walking around a corner, and suddenly – snap! – you are in a cutscene. Instead you will still be playing the game, but can interact or view events that are happening at the same time. Of course, you can also miss stuff by just playing the game in this way, but that was the way we wanted to do it.
GameWatcher: Does The Surge feature an open-world environment or is the game structured in levels?
Jan Klose: The levels are more like sections of this game world. So the game world gets bigger and bigger as you open up new levels. There is a lot of stuff you can’t do in the early levels that you can come back to later; you can collect new items that allow you to open doors or sections which were previously locked.
GameWatcher: Can you talk about the exoskeleton the player wears? How does that affect him? Presumably it makes him stronger and harder to kill…
Jan Klose: Basically it makes it much easier to do stuff than you would be able to otherwise. It’s a physical enhancement. You can move and jump very quickly, and it also has armour parts so you can’t be hurt that easily. The exoskeletons have different functionalities, so you can equip the one that you think is best for the situation you are in. When you see an enemy and you see they are wearing something you want, you can kill them and take their armour. It’s a cruel, basic system of the game, but they are also very mean to you, so you won’t have a guilty conscience doing that! You will also meet good characters who you can do deals with and complete side quests for, so it’s not all just you and the monsters.
GameWatcher: Do you have any power-ups or special moves that can be used in the game?
Jan Klose: We have a thing called exo-energy that comes from the exosuit you are wearing. You can sue it for a variety of things. For example, you use it for finishing moves during combat. You get the energy by attacking enemies and as you do so, it slowly loads up. You can also use it for other stuff as you have these implants, which are like skills. You can only have certain implants when you reach the required level. Each implant is used for a specific purpose, such as an implant that can be used to regain health. Normally when you play the game and you start to run out of health, you would have to retreat, but with this implant you can use it during combat to enable you to keep fighting. You regain your health by attacking the enemy – you load up the bar of exo-energy, and then before it depletes you can change it into health. It sounds a bit strange at first, but you will get used to it really quickly.
GameWatcher: How about the in-game weapons? From the demo, it looks like you begin with a chain-sword?
Jan Klose: It’s more like a cutting tool with a blade or something like that. Because it wasn’t a hostile environment before the story started, you will encounter mainly tools used for working and production. They weren’t originally made for violence, but you are forced to use them as weapons. You can pick up and use every weapon you find, but you can train to get better at some of them. You can customise certain weapons to suit your playing style. That was the basic idea we had when conceiving the game, to allow you to shape the game according to your playing style.
GameWatcher: On the surface, The Surge seems to be a very similar game to Lords of the Fallen. Do you agree with that, and would you say that’s a fair comparison?
Jan Klose: Yeah that’s the game we worked on before, so Lords of the Fallen is not a bad comparison. After Fallen we asked ourselves what we wanted to do next. We wanted to use Fallen as a template, keeping the core of the gameplay but change some things dramatically. We wanted it to look and feel totally different. This setting allows us to do new and cool things that we can immediately incorporate into the mechanics. For example you can now fire projectiles, so we have a new targeting system. So we made the fighting more interesting without making it more complex. It feels like you have more freedom while you play instead of having to care about more things. This is the thing that we are most happy about because this is the thing that works very, very well.
GameWatcher: Lords of the Fallen was a very difficult game to play, will that be the same case here?
Jan Klose: It will ultimately be very difficult. But we want to be better at communicating to the player the alternatives they have to solving situations. You can upgrade and improve your weapons to take on more powerful foes, and the game teaches you how to do that. The core mechanic is the game is fun to play, so the better you get at it, the more fun you have doing so.
The Surge is set to be released at some point in 2017.