Welcome to Glitchy and Smashy Land.
I mostly enjoyed my time with The Surge (read the full review) when it came out back in May, and I’m glad to have an excuse to jump back into its bleak-yet-bright sci-fi world. While the A Walk in the Park DLC might not add much to or dramatically change up the gameplay, it offers more of the same solid combat and exploration in a colorfully creepy new setting.
A Walk in the Park retroactively inserts its new area early into the existing storyline (near the beginning, so if you start a new campaign or New Game + you don’t have to go far to see it), essentially adding an optional six- to eight-hour side mission. Building on The Surge’s tale of robots run amok, it takes some cues from Westworld, The Simpsons, and Jurassic Park and sends you into Creo World, an oh-so-cleverly-named amusement park that serves as a “fun zone” for Creo’s employees.
After the mysterious energy spike that caused all of Creo’s tech to go haywire, though, it’s now less “corporate funland” and more “everything-is-terrible-and-also-wanting-to-murder-you-land.” It includes all the staples of the Amusement Park From Hell, from crashed (or crashing) roller coasters to robotic cartoon mascots hellbent on your destruction. Although these mascots aren’t especially funny parodies of lame corporate mascots (it didn’t feel like The Surge took the gag far enough) these big-headed doofuses provide some much-needed levity, which lightens the mood of an otherwise grim and straight-faced game. As was the case in the main campaign, the environmental design is particularly strong – even though I love them, the grisly renderings of how bad an amusement park accident can get had me wondering how willing I am to get onto a real-life roller coaster again.
There are some clever funny yet creepy moments during the second half.
Your objectives aren’t all that creative – it’s the usual turn on the power, locate survivors, etc – but there are some clever funny yet creepy moments during the second half of the expansion, such as when some of the AI-controlled attractions get a little too smart for their CPUs. The storytelling is easier to follow here because A Walk in the Park takes some time out of combat to relay it instead of trying to shout it over intense fighting like in the main campaign.
The biggest change to moment-to-moment combat are the handful of new enemy types, in addition to bloodthirsty animatronics. While there weren’t any that really made me say “wow,” they helped keep me on my toes despite my familiarity with the solid combat system. Some possess new abilities, like the techno-zombified emergency responders that can self-heal, which help keep combat from getting old.
I only wanted to change up my inventory once or twice.
All of these new enemy types mean a wide variety of new armors and weapons to harvest, collect, and craft. Some are more ridiculous than others, like the mascot heads that you can make your own, but the others offer unique bonuses like additional item charges or bonus crushing damage. That said, all of A Walk in the Park’s new equipment has the same problem with being ineffectual as the main game’s set, which was made even worse because I was playing through on New Game + (as many of you may be if you’re coming back for more of The Surge). Most of these new items weren’t nearly as powerful as the gear I arrived in Creo World with, so they’re pretty useless unless you want to spend a few hours grinding for scrap and parts to upgrade them from their base level. I didn’t want to do that, meaning I only wanted to change up my inventory once or twice.
Because the setting is so strong and the action holds up on a basic level, it’s not like these drawbacks ruined my experience. After riding all the rides and gorging myself on fried robot dough, it’s safe to say that a ticket to Creo World satisfies the urge for more bot-chopping action.