What do you get when you take the atmosphere of Resident Evil and Silent Hill and mix it with fast pace action and a prison setting? The Suffering.
The Suffering is the story of a man named Torque and he has recently arrived on Carnate Island. He is about to serve time on death row at Abbott State Penitentiary for brutally murdering his wife and two kids. Shortly after arriving in your cell an earthquake is felt and all hell breaks loose. You're then thrust right into the adventure to try and escape the island alive.
In the game you control Torque and explore around the prison trying to figure out how to get the hell out of there. You start off deep within the prison but you will eventually make your way out of the prison and get to other areas of the game. Your on an island after all and there is plenty else to see other than the prison. The game is a fast paced action game and there are plenty of enemies to be killed. You'll be blasting creatures and people with various weapons. You have at your disposal a shiv (which is like a short knife), pistols, shotgun, Tommy gun, and a few others you come across. If you're expecting the slower pace of Resident Evil or Silent Hill then think again. This game throws tons and tons of enemies at you at once and the farther in the game you go the more they throw at you. It leads to some pretty intense fire fights especially when in first person mode. There are other characters you will meet in the game from other prisoners and guards to even a few evil characters and you'll know what I mean when you met them. When you meet certain people in the game you can decide to help them or not and the results from what you decide play out in what ending you receive at the end of the game. There aren't too many puzzles in the game and the ones that are in the game are more logical then the ones you find in RE or SH. For example, there is one room where your exit to the room is blocked by fire. So you figure out to turn the sprinkler system on and hose the fire out. Well the problem is the sprinklers don't cover over where the fire is located by the door and all the water flows into the middle of the room into a drain. Solution…. Push an object over the drain thereby overflowing the entire floor in the room with water and eliminating the fire. While not hard the puzzles of this type make more sense and it's a nice change from the find item A here and use it with item B there.
You control Torque with the left control stick and the right control stick is used to turn Torque left and right. It's played like a first person shooter, yet it's third person… although if you hit the white button then your put into a first person perspective and you can switch on the fly at any time. It defiantly adds to the game and lets you choose how you want to play it. Nice touch. The black button is used for healing. Hitting the X button lets you use various things like switches, doors, and usable equipment in the game. The A is used to jump and B is used for reloading which will come in handy. The Y button is your insanity button and is used once you fill your insanity bar up in battle. Once full and you hit it your character is turned into a huge beast and you can slaughter as many enemies as you can before the meter goes down. Pressing L while in this mode will let you throw creatures. R is your basic attack button and used to do your basic attack moves depending on what weapon you have and last but not least is the D-pad which is used to scroll through items and weapons. Overall the controls are pretty easy to get used to and if you have played first person games on the consoles the controls should be quite easy for you to get accustomed to. Now if you don't like the controls there are different setups which do a good job of changing the controls to something you'll most likely find that you like. One thing that I think everyone should change is to setup the flashlight on and off to your right stick button because otherwise you have to go in your scrolling menu every time to turn the flashlight on and off.
The Suffering's graphics sure do a good job of pulling you into the game. The detail level isn't the greatest but the graphics defiantly have a polish to them and I give them credit. From bloody walls to electrical sparks to busted environments. All the graphical effects are there. The lighting in particular is really good and if the level is dark you better hope that you have a flashlight to light your way up or else you're going to have a hard time seeing but luckily you find batteries for the flashlight quite easily. The creatures look great and the designs by Stan Winston are really well done. Each monster is designed after a certain death sentence and they really look disturbing especially when you see three or four of the creatures coming at you from the dark. The main character Torque is well detailed but most of the other humans you encounter are not as good looking as his character model but they get the job done. The entire prison setting looks nice and some of the later levels outside and in other various locales really have a spooky vibe to them.
Now let's talk about the soundtrack and the sound effects in The Suffering. First off the soundtrack is composed of different clanks and noises that are stringed together to sound like almost an atmospheric fast paced soundtrack. The game is pretty quiet when not around enemies but once you run into a group of them the music kicks in and gets your adrenaline up. Now, while you're not near enemies you'd think it is pretty quiet but the sound effects come in and they do a great job of keeping you on your toes. From the scratching of metal against metal and ominous growls the game is constantly making you wonder what's around the next corner and leaves you in suspense. Now Torque has no voice acting at all so the story is told through other cinematics of inmates or ghostly apparitions talking to you and giving you their theories on what's going on with the island. The voice acting is pretty good and you really feel like you're in a prison setting because there are tons and tons of cussing. I've never heard more cussing in my life. Seems like every time there is someone talking there it is… yet somehow it never feels forced and fits right in with the story and setting. Remember when I mentioned you can decide to help people out and that it affects the ending you get? Well there are two voices in the game that serve as your good/evil subconscious. When finding other human characters you will hear a woman's voice suggest to help them out in some way while then shortly after you'll hear what can only be described as a demonic voice telling you to kill them or other horrible things. Some of the things that particular voice says are quite freaky. The whole sound package in this game really draws you into the setting and this is one game the benefits from the great sound job.
This great action horror titles does so many things right bit it does have some rough edges. On about five or six times while playing I got either stuck in a wall or behind a tree or on some other object and once I almost had to reset my game and reload my last save point. The problem only happened a handful of times but it can still it can be a pain. Also my copy froze twice while playing. Now this could be my copy only but I heard from other people that it has happened to them as well so maybe the game needed just a little more time left in development.
The game has flaws but what game doesn't. The game just hooks you from the beginning and never lots go. So if you're a fan of action games or horror games or both go out and rent/buy this game you won't be disappointed. When all is said and done The Suffering does such a good job of mixing action with horror the experience is one not to be missed.
- Justin Celani