Price: UK: £3.99; EU: €4.99; US: $4.99
Release date: US: 4th Feb; EU/UK:5th Feb
I must first declare I’ve never played the original Surge on PSM, so when I received the press release stating the improvements I had nothing to judge it against. That said the list was rather impressive and FuturLab seem to have taken on board criticism of the original Surge from Gamers & Neogaf members. Adding a colour blind mode, additional bonus blocks, a rather impressive piece of music by Joris de Man (the bloke that created the exceptionally good Killzone 3 soundtrack).
So I should really give you my impression of the game, being a block puzzle addict I was looking forward to this release. You have to match the same colour / shaped blocks by tracing a line over the screen joining them, when you release the blocks disappear and points are awarded. You can only connect blocks that have a side exposed and are lit up. The more blocks you link the bigger the score, though there are ways to make your score even bigger through a couple of interesting ideas. On either side of the screen there are vents which can be opened (when there’s nothing in the way), these vents cause the corresponding blocks to vibrate which increases their points value when cleared. Opening a vent reduces the pressure meters that are building either side. If the pressure reaches the top on either side it’s game over, so sometimes you have to compromise a bigger score just to keep playing. There are also blocks with Stars on them, these are the blocks you need to try to save as close to the end as they give crazy bonuses, especially if you’ve opened a vent to get them vibrating. There are a couple of special blocks such as multipliers, Bomb blocks which remove all of the same colour, Chain blocks which allow you to link a different coloured set of blocks to your current amount, and magic blocks that turn all the blocks the same colour for a limited time period.
I could go on for sometime about tactics of how to score big but there’s no way I’m giving away my high scoring secrets, just yet. Thankfully there’s a Tutorial before you get going which is helpful but not perfect. I personally learned more through trial and error, that said the tips at the bottom of the screen are really handy. There is also a timing meter in white at the bottom of the screen, which goes down more rapidly as you increase through the levels, adding a necessity to clear the blocks as quickly as possible.
Other than the main game there’s a Puzzle mode which challenges you to clear the screen as fast as possible and scoring as big as you can. It’s quite a clever way to pick up some tricks. These challenges are brilliantly suited for a daily commute as they’re short and fast. Where as the main game can last loads longer when you start to get the knack.
Both modes have online scoreboards, which show you how you compare against the world, Friends list and surprisingly via Near. They’ve also added an ability to execute your Highscore bragging via Social media integration on Twitter & Facebook.
Being a full PSVita release FuturLab have added a collection of highly challenging trophies, that have kept me coming back to the game but sadly these are only awarded in the main game.
The visuals really pop out of the screen thanks to the neon coloured blocks, there some neat touches such as the way the line traces across the board. Little score’s flash up as you connect blocks, as well as announcing boldly you final level score. The top of the screen also changes colour as your pressure increases which is a useful visual cue, to panic or clear blocks to open a vent.
If you’re not in to fast paced block matching action this game probably won’t change your mind. If you are I’d recommend it, but with a couple of caveats. The music is a reasonable piece of electro but has now started to grate on me, but only after hours of play. One of the audio cues when pressure is building is a nice touch but again the klaxon styled sound becomes a little annoying. The responsiveness of the PSVita’s touchscreen is really well utilised, but if you’ve got sausage fingers this game might pose a problem.
It’s excellent to see that FuturLab are reissusing their previous games and improving them, specifically for Sony’s superb Handheld. I’d like to see Beat Slider being the next game given the extra love, to keep me going until Velocity2x, please FuturLab.
In the meantime I implore you buy Surge Deluxe if you like flashy visuals and making blocks pop under pressure, and at under £4 FuturLab are giving it away, with no additional purchases necessary.
Review copy supplied by developers