As we play offers the thought strands of the reviewer as they’re going through the game. This offers unique content for the reader so they can come to understand the conflicting feelings of the reviewer as they’re playing a game for the very first time. All feedback on this concept is welcome.
When Playstation Vita first launched, it was billed as a console-quality handheld experience. High-end. big budget titles finally had a home in the palms of your hands. And it didn’t take long to see the results. In its first year, Vita saw exclusive installments in the Uncharted, Killzone and Call of Duty franchises.
But the handheld’s success stories have not been found on the backs of established IP. In fact, it’s the independent movement that has really carved its niche out on Vita and defined the hardware. Huge success stories, such as Mike Bithell, Vlambeer, Devolver Digital and Drinkbox Studios have found a happy, profitable home in the Sony family.
Another major success story is FuturLab. Creators of Velocity, Beats Slider and Coconut Dodge. Their work has become the stuff of legend and has consistently given Vita owners something to cheer about.
Their latest game, Surge Deluxe, does not disappoint.
The game perfectly embodies FuturLab’s tendency for ease of play, but adds a whole layer of complexity on top. The premise is simple; use your finger to connect blocks by color. You can connect multiple blocks, but only ones that are highlighted. However, on either side of the screen, pressure is building and if that pressure reaches the top of both gauges, the game ends. Fortunately, you can open colored vents in order to release the pressure, but they are hidden behind the blocks which you’ll need to clear away.
Once you’ve cleared the blocks, you’ll need to tap the vents in order to drain the pressure gauges. Each vent is a different color and if you press the vent at either side, that color spreads across the playing field. If you connect the same colored blocks, then you’ll gain a score multiplier.
Still following? If you chain 3 or more blocks together, you can add more time to your counter as well as rack up points. But there are other ways to rack up points. Star blocks are worth double points. X2 blocks double all points in current chian and x3 blocks triple all points in the current chain. There are also frenzy blocks which change every block on the board to the same color, making your game ripe for major pointage. Likewise, there is a bomb block which will detonate all blocks of the color you connect to.
As you get deeper into the game, you’ll also find combiner blocks which multiply points in a chain. You can add more combiner and multiplier blocks into a chain to increase the multiplier value of a row of blocks. You can even use a chain linker to create a bridge between colours.
Busy, isn’t it? We haven’t even mentioned the switcher blocks which changes color on a timer.
Surge Deluxe quickly stops being a simple join-the-dots puzzler. There are a lot of dynamics at play and while it won’t quite overwhelm you, you will absolutely need to be aware of your surroundings in order to maximize points and keep making your way through the levels without being timed out.
Surge Deluxe is hyper addictive. The replay value is immense and it’s the kind of game you’ll see on the backs of your eye-lids when you’re not glued to your Vita. You’ll want to keep besting your friends, increasing your high score and just flat out playing for the fun of it. Yes, fun.
Where many games like endless grinds, establishing wide open worlds and delivering full-blown conversation systems, placing greater emphasis on the choices you make, Surge Deluxe just likes to entertain and look colourfully elegant while doing it. It’s a game perfectly suited to Vita, it’s appropriately balanced, without any noticeable flaws and bugs and even finds the time to fill our ears with wub-wub-wub.
The game’s sharing facilities work perfectly, and it’s easy to share your highscores to Facebook and Twitter, as well as compare them with friends and the rest of the world.
If you start to lose patience with the main game, Surge Deluxe also comes complete with a Puzzle mode. The idea here is to take a pre-set game board and either match or beat the high score set by the dev team. To beat them all, you’ll need a deep understanding of how the game works. In fact, the puzzles themselves are probably best saved for expert players.
There are one or two aspects I would potentially like to have seen added, such as the use of the rear touch pad which could arguably be used to speed up the process of lighting up vents on both sides, or pushing out un-highlighted blocks to see what color they are. I’d also love some form of asynchronous or live head-to-head multiplayer. Surge Deluxe is definitely a game that would thrive on that.
But these are just suggestions and not features Surge Deluxe needs. The game is just excellent as it is and among FuturLab’s finest work on Vita.
Areas for Development
- Sharing to Facebook and Twitter can be a bit shaky
- Leaderboard connectivity improvements
- A potential head-to-head multiplayer mode
- Maybe some rear touch screen use
Technical Competency – 10/10
Audio/Visual – 10/10
Network Stability – 10/10
Overall – 10/10
Surge Deluxe is a fantastic handheld game. It’s immensely replayable, consistently entertaining, outrageously vibrant and easy on the eye, whether you’re colour-blind or not. FuturLabs have done it again and made a game we simply cannot put down.
Because of games like this, indie remains king on Playstation Vita. Long may it last.
(These grades assess our playthrough, taking into consideration how many (if any) bugs were encountered, whether there were any interruptions in gameplay and the product’s final technical state. These scores, coupled with the Final Analysis and Areas for Development, are suggestions for future patches and updates which the developers could (and in our opinion, should) explore. These scores are separate to our DLC/Expansion Reviews but link into our Patch/Firmware Reviews.)
(These scores are not designed as a grading system to determine the entertainment value of a product and should not be treated as such..)