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The two remaining DLC offer quite a bit of new content. The first - A Walk in the Park - moves the action into a CREO amusement park, a colorful place filled with malfunctioning mascots and murderous robots. The DLC introduces a new bright environment that serves as a welcome change of pace compared to the game's usual industrial levels.
A Walk in the Park also adds two new boss fights and does something not too obvious but nevertheless important. It moves the game's structure further away from the formula established by Dark Souls. The gameplay is still the same, but here you don't get a somber solitary experience, and instead have a friendly voice in your ear as you explore the park. We also get some proof that Deck13's artists are very much capable of creating environments that aren't just maintenance tunnels and assembly lines. And as a nice bonus, the DLC lets us learn a thing or two about our protagonist's past.
The Good, the Bad and the Augmented DLC, on the other hand, offers a predominantly combat-focused experience. Presented as a series of tests, the DLC is themed around an in-universe Wild West TV show, and as a result you get to enjoy things like holographic ghost trains and robot cowboys with coffins for weapons.
This second major DLC offers a series of self-contained challenges with unique twists that can be further modified by a number of bonus objectives. The whole thing is fairly straightforward, but the best part about it, aside from another fresh environment, is that your actions are narrated in real time in a manner reminiscent of Supergiant Games' Bastion of all things. I found the narration to be quite amusing and I wonder why more games don't go for something like this.
Both of these DLC are integrated into the base game fairly well and as a result despite their somewhat outlandish settings, manage to make The Surge's world more interesting and expand it beyond just a large factory.
As mentioned earlier, the game's visuals are quite decent, and its fairly impressive settings menu will let you fine-tune those visuals according to your preferences. The one thing I really didn't like about the game's presentation, however, was the UI. For my taste everything there was too small and difficult to read at a glance, especially the active implant indicator where implants were represented by tiny icons that all looked pretty much the same.
The audio effects are exactly what they needed to be to support a weighty combat system. The music is not used all that often but when it's there, it does a good job of creating the right atmosphere, be it the safety of an Ops station, or a tense horror-like moment down in some dark tunnel.
Unfortunately, the game crashed on me a couple of times during my playthrough, but thanks to the save system that autosaves your progress every few seconds, it wasn't a particularly big deal.
And while usually I would complain about a save system that doesn't allow you to save your progress at will, at this point this autosave thing is kind of expected from a game like this. Thankfully, The Surge doesn't copy Dark Souls' systems wholesale and you can at least pause the action.
You can play the game with a controller or keyboard and mouse. After testing both, using a controller is still the optimal way to play a game like this. Nevertheless, a KB/M setup wasn't particularly horrible and the game was perfectly playable that way.
Similarly to Dark Souls, The Surge features a New Game+ mode where you can find some additional challenges and an opportunity to keep developing your character. Unlike Dark Souls, it doesn't have a multiplayer mode, so those of you who enjoy co-operation or PvP won't find them here.
In all honesty, I didn't expect to enjoy The Surge as much as I did and as a result, I'm now very excited about the future of this particular series. The combat engine, one of the most important things to get right, is more than competent and the game is downright fun to play. Sure, it's not perfect, but if the DLC are any indication, the developers have already started moving in the right direction.
I just wish they felt more confident in their ability to successfully iterate on the Dark Souls formula and didn't feel obligated to copy some of its more obtuse elements like a needlessly cryptic story or features that lack a proper in-game explanation.
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