We've returned to Deck 13's challenging vision of the future for a thrill-ride of a different kind.
Falling earlier this year, The Surge was one that sadly fell under the radar for many. The title, whilst cleared inspired by the Souls series, introduced its own sci-fi spin and saw you cling to survival in a rundown facility where machines and deranged workers ran rampant. After a handful of weapon packs and half a year on store shelves, The Surge has received its first major expansion, A Walk in the Park. A departure from the gritty tone of the base game, the expansion hands you the keys to an abandoned theme park and features heaps more weapons, implants, and armour for you to get your hands on.
One thing that we should perhaps stress right off the bat is that the DLC can only be purchased if you own the base game. Instead of being a standalone expansion, it functions much like Bloodborne's Old Hunters DLC in the sense that it's embedded as part of the game. Creo World can be accessed by boarding a rundown train inside the second level, which for some may mean a fair amount of backtracking. As we were far into a new game plus save we did find the journey back to this area rather arduous and wished the developers had implemented some kind of fast travel system. We do understand the developer's reasons for adding the content at this stage though, but we'll get to that later.
As we mentioned earlier, Creo World, the family-fun theme park attached to the Creo facility is the main setting of the DLC. Across the park, you'll ride a rollercoaster, beat up a doughnut-headed mascot with an oversized candy cane, and go toe-to-toe with a giant mechanised cat. It's an engaging world to explore filled with vibrant streaks of colours and plenty of surprises not seen within the industrialised world of the base game. It's the same silly thrill that we've felt in titles like Dead Rising and Saints Row, which is a pleasant surprise considering how seriously the original took itself.
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Much of the story sees you following what is seemingly the park's last survivor, who communicates with you via a hacked drone. You'll follow his instruction to regain power to certain regions, locate missing survivors and uncover the remnants of a helicopter crash. We find out very little about how the park spiralled into chaos, and instead, we're left to join the dots through a series of audio logs. This we thought was a huge missed opportunity and it stung a little as the trailers teased the fact that we may see something more in the way of narrative.
While we don't want to give too much away we would like to shine a spotlight on some of the bosses and enemies that you'll encounter in this new world. The most challenging and memorable highlight for us was the giant mechanised cat that attempts to crush you with its spinning tail and pounce on top of you. Across the park, you'll also be encountering a couple of new enemy types including melee-attacking drones, park mascots gone wild, and enemies that can heal themselves. The former and the latter especially require you to adapt your style of play to manipulate their move sets.
Back to the point, we made earlier, A Walk in the Park even fixes flaws within the base title, making for a more rounded overall experience. The Surge saw a pretty fierce difficulty spike towards the third quarter of the game, which provided a roadblock to our progress. The expansion now remedies this issue as it provides a new area for you to build up some tech scraps and find some better implants and weapons. This may even tempt those who gave up in a fit of rage to give the park a visit before having another stab at completion. Granted, paying to make the game feel more balanced and rounded isn't exactly a pro, but at least the developers have worked to address this flaw.
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The DLC doesn't change any of The Surge's mechanics, which could be viewed as a positive or negative depending on your feelings towards the base game. As far as we're aware, ranged weapons are still missing which is something we noted as a complaint in our initial review. This is especially annoying as many of these new enemy types have greater range than you. That being said it does succeed again in the same way the base game did. Boss battles are engaging and a real test of your skill (underscoring the irony of the expansion's title), and the environment is beautifully interlinked as there's never an unlockable path too far from the base.
A Walk in the Park took us roughly four hours to get through which isn't too offensive considering its asking price of £11.99 (if you own the base game). For those who may have been lured in by the DLC and haven't played the game before, there is a complete edition available for £54.99. At this point, though, we're unsure as to whether future DLC will be coming to The Surge, but as the complete edition has arrived it suggests that there likely isn't more coming. So, while A Walk in the Park got us more excited for the game than ever, it'll sadly likely be the last bit of content introduced.
The ironically titled A Walk in the Park dares to be different and makes a dramatic departure from the base title, delivering an absurd thrill ride from start to finish. It delivers a ton of new weapons and implants, some memorable boss fights, and even works to smooth out the late game grind. It may be short-lived and doesn't fix all of the base game's shortcomings, but ultimately A Walk in the Park offers a good time that will leave you both smiling and throwing a fit in anger.
8 / 10
It makes a bold departure from the main game's tone, there's plenty more weapons, implants and armour and it helps to smooth out the late game grind.
There are no ranged weapons, There's a lack of cut scene/story content and it's short-lived.