Surge Deluxe review: a more stressful version of Candy Crush on crack
I'm addicted. Very few games in my life have stressed me out as much as Surge Deluxe (just released for the PS Vita), yet I find myself wanting more and more. I go to sleep at night and have dreams, no, nightmares of venting pressure, combining colored blocks and combo-ing blocks all against an ever-diminishing amount of time. It's Candy Crush on crack. No – meth.
Walter White Heisenberg behind this this frantic colored-block matching game is FuturLab. Utilizing the Vita's touchscreen to perfection, you are tasked with connecting bright, neon-colored blocks by drawing lines with your finger to connect them. You can only connect tiles with exposed edges, mixing in score multipliers, links to chain two colors together, and bombs that destroy all blocks of a single color. Certain blocks will be worth more if they have a star in them, so there's a lot of strategy when it comes to which blocks to destroy and when to use multipliers.
The stress doesn't come from trying to quickly figure out which combos will net you the most points – it comes from venting pressure. Both sides of the screen show gauges that fill with pressure as the game goes on. To vent the pressure, you need to clear rows of blocks, allowing a colored beam to connect to its other side. Activate the beam on both sides by tapping, and it will start to vent some of the pressure out. Have multiple beams connected and it will vent faster. A connected beam will also give a multiplier to the blocks of that corresponding color. It's a cool mechanic that keeps the pressure on you. Add on the fact that you have to activate the beam – it doesn't automatically connect – and it's just another thing you need to pay attention to.
I know it sounds like a lot to do, and that's because there is a lot to do. Fortunately, Surge Deluxe has a really good tutorial that explains the game's mechanics, and the game doesn't drop you into a difficult level right away. Every game starts you out with easy, slow-pressure-building rows to clear. But when it ramps up, boy does it get difficult. For players that want to jump into challenge, it would be nice to have the option to start with a small multiplier at a more difficult level, kind of like how Tetris would let you.
Outside of the primary game mode, there is a puzzle mode. In it, you're tasked with clearing stages, but you have a score that you have to meet or surpass if you want to beat the puzzle. This is only possible to achieve if you think through your moves and put your multipliers to smart, good uses. There's not a ton of levels to it, but it's a good change-of-pace mode.
I'm a sucker for these types of games. If you're even decent at this game, it won't be a quick five-minute match. The stress of it, and the competitive nature when browsing leaderboards or trying to get achievements keeps me coming back for more. It's a game I'd play for a good 20 to 30 minutes before bed. Probably explains the weird dreams I've been having. There's not a ton to it, but it's a nice spin on colored-block matching. Vibrant visuals, easy controls and frantic gameplay makes this a worthy addition to your Vita's library.