[Disclosure: A review copy was provided for the contents of this article]
When it first came out just over six months ago, The Surge surprised a lot of people by offering players a glimpse into a bleak future where Blade Runner, Robocop and Universal Soldier meet Dark Souls beneath a burning hot sun. Bleached sand and tumbledown structures of metal and concrete contrasted with the colourful, corporate armour of the once human husks that roam the barren, post-apocalyptic world caused by the titular energy surge.
Progress through this world is savage, just as it in a Souls game, and The Surge features level design that is built around a looping progression system that incentivises players to revisit areas over and over again until they have the skills and items needed to reach the next shortcut. What surprised me most about The Surge is that the level design is almost as exceptional as that of the games it seeks to emulate and the question in my mind about the A Walk in the Park DLC was always going to be – how will add-in DLC live up to that same level of expectation?
Honestly, quite well. A Walk in the Park is introduced into The Surge early on, shortly after the first boss is defeated and the transit system brought online. High level players or those returning via New Game Plus will probably press on through it in one or two sittings amounting to about six or seven hours in total, whilst new players will probably find that it splits into two or three more logical chunks that can be picked up and dropped alongside the main campaign.
The new area that is introduced in the DLC is Creo World, a theme park built specifically for Creo employees, many of whom are now wandering aimlessly around whilst still wearing their sinister robotic mascot heads and outfits. This can, on occasion, lead to some interesting new components, which were useful to me since I started a new game from scratch. I’ve also spent some time playing with friends who were returning to the game, and they found in general that loot in A Walk in the Park was less effective than it is in the base game. Take that as you will.
However you end up progressing through it, A Walk in the Park features a decent variety of interesting locations to visit, within the confines of a tightly packed and architecturally challenging theme park setting. Pathways are often block paved and hemmed in by high, whitewashed walls, whilst vertical eye candy is plentifully delivered via everything from extravagant signage to twisting, brightly coloured roller coasters.
Players can explore locations both behind the scenes and within the park itself, which leads to several interesting changes of pace and a number of challenging scenarios both in tight spaces and out in the open. Perhaps a little disappointingly, there are only two new bosses to face and neither of them are especially imaginative or challenging, although I didn’t find them any more or less interesting than those I faced during the main campaign. If anything, as a new player, the near identical pacing and challenge of A Walk in the Park helped to streamline the DLC with the original content, but I can understand if that’s not an aim that most players will care about.
A Walk in the Park is a worthwhile addition for fans of the original, I would say, even if it doesn’t change the game materially. It isn’t huge or especially taxing, but it’s larger than a lot of DLC’s and it does retain the series basic mechanical. It also provides quite a bit of fan service via Creo World itself, which clearly feels like it should be DLC and because of its quirkiness and honesty about it, feels entirely appropriate as such. Most people should try The Surge in general, and for anyone who ends up liking the base game, you should buy A Walk in the Park.
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