Wednesday 5 February 2014

Surge Deluxe Review (PS Vita)

Future Lab first released SURGE as a mobile title last year. Now, like with Velocity and Coconut Dodge they have returned to the game to give it a native make over for the PS Vita. Our love for their output is well documented and we can’t help but wonder if there few remaining non-Vita native titles will also receive the same treatment in the future.

In truth, SURGE always had the potential to be more than just a mobile title. It’s a match style puzzle game which utilises the touch screen. The aim is simply to connect blocks of the same colour to one another with an electrical current. Using your finger you need to drag from one block to the next to create as big a chain as possible. Like all good puzzle games the premise is simple but in practice it all becomes highly addictive.

The idea is to clear the screen before a pressure gauge explodes. In order to stop this happening you need to clear an entire horizontal row and open valves at both sides of the screen. This releases the pressure and adds a point bonus to the blocks of corresponding colour. On top of this ticking time bomb there is a normal time limit as well. When that expires more blocks fall into the screen. It starts out simply but by the end descends into panic stricken madness of the best kind.

Along with the standard coloured blocks are a number of special ones. These consist of things like bombs (which clear the screen of all blocks of that colour), wild card blocks (which can be used as any colour), and blocks which continually change. The best special block though is one which, for a short period of time, changes all the blocks to the same colour allowing you to rush for a quick clearance and chain bonus.

What really elevates the title is its presentation. The theme of electricity is constant through the design and the blocks glow with neon colour, the electrical lines drawn to connect them fizz satisfyingly and the new sound track still gives off an excellent industrial electro vibe. This keeps the adrenaline pumping and the enjoyment high. When everything starts working together it creates a real state of flow that’s hard to match in many other puzzle games and gives a real gravity and impact to the game.

Adding to the competitive side of the title are online leader boards and trophies. When you start a new game the name of the person who has the score directly above you is plastered right in the middle of the screen for a few seconds. This adds to the ever growing reasons to keep coming back for just one more go. However, it does take some time for scores to upload and a number of times we were presented with our own name as the person next up to beat.

The main problem with the original is one that has been addressed to some degree. Each of the colours now has a different corresponding shape which removes the issue for colour blind players present in the original. It still takes some getting used to as a few of the shapes are similar but we are happy to report that after a few goes we were unable to use it as a valid excuse for getting low scores.

Overall, Surge Deluxe is another example of Future Lab taking on a genre with skill and flair. This is another essential game for those that want something they can play on the move. The studio continues to impress and we look forward to seeing what they come up with next.


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