“The Suffering” is a game that drips atmosphere.
Whether it’s the hallucinogenic flashbacks coming from the
dark recesses of the protagonist’s brain or the sound of
forged steel scraping the stone floor as an undead enemy lumbers
out of the shadows, Midway’s created a game that’s
meant to scare the shit out of you.
In this respect, they’ve succeeded.
Gamers take on the persona of a prisoner, Torque, sentenced to
life at the maximum -security Abbott State Penitentiary for killing
his wife and son. Upon arriving, something unearthly takes place
and guards and prisoners alike fear for their lives as enemy
creatures swarm the penitentiary. The game picks up as Torque
begins his escape, uncovering the details of the prison’s
mysterious past and the events leading up to his own
The heart of the game is in the setting: Abbott State
Penitentiary is undoubtedly a frightening place. As if being a
maximum-security prison isn’t enough, Midway has packed it
with fantastic applications of dramatic lighting, dark, muddied
textures and ambient sound effects. Dripping water, the distant
thump of doors slamming shut and even the protagonist’s own
beating heart can all be heard, adding to the overall tension of
the game. Combine that with the horde of otherworldly enemies that
scramble across the ceiling, rise up from the floor and leap out of
the shadows, and the developers have crafted a game that is nothing
less than chilling.
It’s unfortunate that the rest of the game doesn’t
live up to this level of superiority. The non-player characters
that Torque runs into throughout his escape are often poorly
rendered and the voice acting ranges from average to downright
laughable. Midway took advantage of the “M” rating the
game brandishes and doesn’t hold back on the obscenities and
buckets of blood, but the sometimes over-the-top theatrics detract
from the overall experience.
The action aspect of the game is also too clear-cut, becoming
far too repetitive over time. The scheme, kill an enemy/solve a
puzzle, is repetitive and stale. As the game progresses, the packs
of enemies become less frightening and more tedious as they swamp
the lead character. Luckily, the developers provided a superb
save-game system that allows players to save at any location they
choose, avoiding any need to replay events more than once.
Even though “The Suffering” is an average adventure
wrapped in a moody and violent package, it should be sufficient for
fans of the horror-game genre for awhile, or at least until
“Doom 3” is released later this year.
Videogame Review: 3 out of 5 stars