The Surge: A Walk in the Park (XOne) - ReviewEvan Norris , posted on 04 December 2017 / 3,938 Views
The Surge getting an expansion is good news on two levels. First, it means more of the game — more environments, more weapons, more enemies, and more implants. Second, it brings an underrated and largely overlooked game back into the spotlight. Like the base game, The Surge: A Walk in the Park is a Souls-like action-RPG with a focus on dangerous tactical combat. It's a welcome, unexpected addition to an already substantial experience, and represents a refreshing change of scenery. Where The Surge took place mainly in manufacturing centers and R&D labs, A Walk in the Park invites players to explore a colorful theme park.
Keep in mind that this expansion cannot be played independently from The Surge, and as a result it is tied closely with the story and level design of the base game — for better or worse. In fact, the first entrance to A Walk in the Park is a full two hours into the game, after the first level "Abandoned Production" is cleared. From a train station in "Main Production" — the game's second level — players can access CREO World, an amusement park built by CREO for its employees and their families.
From a narrative and pacing perspective, embedding CREO World in the larger game makes sense. Accessible by train and featured in posters and videos inside the company's manufacturing center, it feels like an organic part of the CREO campus. However, the fact that the expansion is locked behind two hours of gaming is something of an annoyance. This is especially true for folks who previously beat the game. Only by starting a NG+ and replaying "Abandoned Production" will they get the chance to visit CREO World, the unhappiest place on Earth.
Set up for overworked CREO personnel, CREO World is a theme park not unlike Disneyland. Filled with roller coasters, concession stands, and other attractions, it's fun for the whole family. That's on a normal day. In the world of The Surge, however, the park has become a death trap. Malfunctioning mechanical mascots stalk the park grounds. Rogue rescue workers attack anything that moves. The central support column has collapsed, dragging half of CREO World with it into a massive sinkhole.
CREO World is refreshingly different. It's bright, colorful, and dripping in personality. Plus, it's filled with a lot of weird new enemy types. There's something hilarious and terrifying about a robotic mascot with a cookie for a head trying to disembowel you. For all its thematic and visual differences, though, the park operates much like the rest of The Surge. It's filled with secrets, shortcuts, and dozens of weapons, audio logs, and implants. One of the best parts of the original game was wandering off the main path and stumbling across something new, different, or unexpected. That remains true for this expansion.
The same goes for combat. It's the same tactical, versatile, heart-racing fighting from earlier this year. As the game's unlikely hero Warren, players will target the bodies of enemies, attack weak points, and finally sever limbs and other parts to claim spare parts and armor pieces. Back in the safe room, those parts and pieces are reconstituted into armor sets. A Walk in the Park offers several new sets of armor, in addition to plenty of implants (read: perks), and 16 new weapons.
Overall, there's a strong amount of content in this DLC. In addition to many new enemy types, a brand new sandbox in which to play, and loads of weapons and materials, A Walk in the Park offers a boss battle and even a couple of NPCs. Depending on your play style, you could spend somewhere between four and six hours in CREO World. Note that those hours might be stained somewhat by a few technical flaws, including brief frame rate stutters in the busiest places, slow-loading textures, and even the odd crash — at least on Xbox One.
Some infrequent technical hitches are a small price to pay for a creative and considerable expansion to one of 2017's most overlooked games. Anyone who enjoyed the gameplay loops and combat mechanics of The Surge will be sure to appreciate A Walk in the Park. It's the perfect way to extend an already great gaming experience. For those new to the world of CREO, it will fill in or foreshadow some important plot points and provide a welcome change of scenery.
This review is based on a digital copy of The Surge: A Walk in the Park for the XOne, provided by the publisher.