Top critical review
17 people found this helpful
on 12 January 2005
I bought The Suffering while waiting for something I really wanted to come out, but I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of effort and detail that has gone into this game. Be warned though, it's dark and horrific, and the game seems to really revel in showing all the gruesome ways people can be sliced up, mutilated and tortured. You play Torque, a man imprisoned in one of the harshest prsions ever built, and it's up to you to make sense of what is happening when staff and inmates alike start getting mowed down by bloodthirsty supernatural monsters which appear seemingly from nowhere. The story hits the ground running in the first few minutes of play, when your character suddenly finds his cell door open and the prison in total chaos. Once out of your cell, it's a matter of making your way through the prison, and outside, hoprfully to freedom.
The thing that struck me while playing was the attention to detail present in the locations. Many of the rooms have working telephones, light switches, taps, lockers etc, and even though interacting with them sometimes proves to have no effect (flushing the toilet for example!) it's a great and realistic addition to the game world. Of course many of these things are important to the action, such as unlocking doors or finding supplies, so it pays to explore just what you can do in every new location. A word of warning also, be alert or else some parts of the game will pass you by. Some pathways and rooms containing supplies and even weapons can be completely bypassed if you are not thorough in exploring, so it pays to be cautious. This, of course, is only possible once you have cleared any areas completely of marauding monsters, and it's here that the meat of the game lies.
The creatures invading the prison are pretty gruesome and relentless in their attempts to kill you. Some very Silent Hill-esque creatures inhabit this world, including agile metallic creatures with blades instead of arms and legs that just love to leap at you from the ceiling, and crawling mutants who like to pull loaded hypodermic syringes out of their skin and throw them at you like darts. Early on in the game you will be hard pushed to come through fights unscathed, so it's a blessing that healing supplies are scattered liberally throughout each stage. However, just when you find the best (in my opinion ) firearm - the shotgun - and start cackling with joy as one or two close-range blasts send the creatures flying in a hail of body parts, the game ups the challenge and starts sending wave after wave of critters at you, some of which respawn endlessly. It sounds unfair, but it's not really, as in these cases the game is either telling you to get the hell out of there, or find a way to plug up the seemingly endless stream from it's source.
In several ways, the game reminds me a lot of the similar PS2 adventure "Ghosthunter", in that you have to run around whilst manually aiming, and things seem to be far more capable of dashing around the screen than you are. But, in a great additional aspect, you can also switch to first person view at any time, and still run around, attack and jump, etc. So that's almost two games in one, if you prefer to play it that way. Plus the weapons are a lot of fun...when I found the fire axe it was definitely playtime, heh heh...
As for the plot, it's very minimal, with escaping alive being about the only important issue here. There is a sub-plot involving Torque's memory of his wife and children and what has happened to them and him leading up to to the current situation, but it's very much a peripheral issue to the main action of the game. I found Torque's constant flashbacks and visions to be rather pointless after a while, as the script doesn't give Torque any personality whatsoever (he never speaks or changes his expression during the entire game), so it's impossible to feel any sympathy or even tell what emotions he's supposed to be experiencing!
The gameplay improves further once Torque gets outside of the actual prison, as the repetition of cells and offices gives way to a variety of forests, roads, rivers and cliffs, and the freedom to explore is pretty impressive (or maybe I should say that the disguising of the restraints the game uses to stop you going where it doesn't want you to go is pretty impressive!). Towards the end of the game, you'll also make it to a delapidated asylum/residence, a shoreline complete with shipwreck, and a clifftop lighthouse, and the graphics of these locations is wonderful, well worth waiting for.
So I recommend this game. It's challenging, although some of the killing can be avoided if you just want to run past everything. Still want more? Well, actions such as your willingness to help other survivors (even when they might be actively hostile towards you) will change the ending you receive, or open up extra goodies if you keep certain NPC's alive long enough - pretty tough to do in some cases. And there are several situations featuring puzzles and traps to test your problem-solving skills. There's also an "insanity" meter which, when full, allows Torque to transform into a super-strong monster himself and dish out insane damage....to find out how and why, you'll have to play the game. It's definitely worth a look