Surge is a wonderful little game, without lofty ambitions or pretension about it.
In some ways, reviewing bite sized games is a harder affair than reviewing big budget blockbusters. In those larger games, so many pieces are all moving around that it becomes an exercise in deciding which of those components makes the biggest impact on you, for better or for worse. Surge doesn’t have that problem. It has a big idea, and executes on it well. For the price Futurlab is asking for the game, what more could you want? It’s a game entirely comfortable with being small, and that’s no problem whatsoever.
At its heart, Surge is a puzzle game. The screen fills with blocks, and it’s your job to remove said blocks as fast as you possibly can, all the while avoiding a slow pressure build up on the sides of the screen. The catch? If you clear a line, you can release the vents on either side, slowing down the pressure. There’s also a timer. High intensity doesn’t even begin to describe Surge at its most hectic. However, when all of those pieces fit together, and you’re frantically pairing off a variety of colors, the game feels absolutely fantastic. The touch controls are swift, responsive, and ultimately they put the onus on the player. I never felt like my movements weren’t being properly translated, or that the game was having trouble keeping up with me. It feels fantastic to run your fingers along the Vita’s screen, and have a symphony of color and congratulatory noises waft over you.
Surge’s visuals also serve to compliment the experience. The game’s bright palette is put to good use, and the energetic soundtrack helps to up the intensity further. If I were to have one complaint, it would be that it sometimes isn’t entirely clear when I’ve hit a block of a rival color when matching other ones, bringing an abrupt halt to the proceedings. Most of the time, it’s easy to notice when you’ve done it, but now and again you end up a little confused when your line mysteriously disappears. You could play it slow and thread the needle, but where’s the fun in that?
The game’s leaderboard functionality also helps lend it that competitive spirit. Technical wizards that they are, Futurlab have crafted what seems like their own leaderboard solution outside of PSN. I’m not sure what’s keeping PlayStation Mobile from accessing these features, but whatever it is, it didn’t stop Futurlab from implementing their own. Just enter a username you’d like to appear as, and you’ll turn up. The board loads quickly, and it’s easy to find your place in the crowd. It’s even easier to become embarrassed by your place in said crowd, but I’ll chalk that up to not enough practice.
Surge is a wonderful little game, without lofty ambitions or pretension about it. It set out to be a smart, fun puzzle game, and its succeeded at that admirably. There isn’t much outside the core game to mess around with, but when the core game is this fun, who can complain?
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
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