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Video Game / The Suffering

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You think you've got it bad...

"Take away a man's light, his clothes, his food, his friends, his air, and you leave him with nothing but himself. And for most, that is not pleasant company."
Ranse Truman

The Suffering is a horror series created in 2004 by Surreal Software, also known for the Drakan games, and published by Midway. The player controls a man named Torque who was accused and convicted of murdering his wife and children in cold blood — the case was quick, as Torque's only defense was that he couldn't remember anything. Thus, Torque gets shipped off to Carnate Island. The days go along swimmingly until Torque moves in.

Then it all goes to Hell.

First, it was just an earthquake. Then, slowly, Torque's fellow prisoners are killed one by one in increasingly disgusting-sounding ways. A monster whizzes past Torque's cell, which opens slowly, setting him free. And thus, Torque steps forward into the halls of the Abbott Penitentiary, where prison is, quite literally, hell. Along the way, Torque finds himself in the company of an insane doctor with a more-than-professional interest in his condition, a vicious prisoner who killed his wife on a conjugal visit and took the chair, and an executioner with a particular glee in his work and eager to see Torque's blood shed. All three inflict their own unique tortures on him. It's up to the player to decide how to handle all of this: with compassion or with violence.

That is the internal battle, the fight to define Torque's mind. Of more immediate concern are the "Malefactors," the hideous monsters that spring from Carnate's soil and represent all the horror that has occurred on the island. You see, Carnate has a long and storied history with the worst aspects of the human condition. Over the centuries, period-specific sadism has soaked the island's soil with blood. As many have discovered, Carnate has become a manifestation of evil, drawing out of the violence and hatred from all who step foot on the island. And now, Carnate wants Torque to become its newest spokesman.

One perk of the game is its unique brand of horror, effortlessly mixing Psychological Horror with physical horror while keeping the bona-fide badass Torque gunning and running, and never once feeling dissonant about it.

A sequel, The Suffering: Ties That Bind, was released in '06. It picks up with Torque returning to Baltimore and finding out that Malefactors have somehow gotten there too. He has to fight his way through the situation and get to the bottom of it, while simultaneously dealing with the past (specifically, his family's murder).

After a long time being out of print, both the original game and the sequel were re-released on in September 2017.

Worth noting that Stan Winston, master of monsters himself, not only helped designed the creatures but also hoped to create a feature film version. Alas, thanks to the losses of both him and Midway, this never came to be


  • A Storm Is Coming: When you get close to Dr. Killjoy's hideout, rain torrents down in buckets.
  • Abominable Auditorium: Early in Ties That Bind, Torque is led into the Grand Theater, a derelict cinema in the slums of Baltimore. It was obviously in pretty bad shape even before the Malefactors took over the city: the place is littered with rubbish, the seats have been removed from the theater itself, and it's obviously been converted into a den for homeless drug addicts — most of whom have been butchered in the last few hours. Dr Killjoy uses this place as a briefing room for Torque, keeping it relatively safe... up until Blackmore appears and sends in the Malefactors to make Torque manifest his rage form again.
  • Accidental Murder: The neutral ending for Torque in the first game. The sequel reveals this was also the case in the good karma ending, as Torque/Blackmore didn't mean for his thugs to kill Carmen and the boys.
  • Affably Evil: If Torque follows the good path, the Infernas can be pretty nice to Torque at first. Until they try to kill him later.
    • Blackmore in the second game, Dr. Killjoy in both. Though whether or not Killjoy is evil or just crazy is a matter up to debate...
  • A.K.A.-47: All of the guns are given generic, bland names, until the second game.
  • The Alcatraz: Carnate Prison is genuinely inescapable. Then the Malefactors show up...
  • Ambiguous Situation: Torque's situation in the good karma ending of Ties That Bind is very...odd. Carmen remarks that she wants her and Torque to never be apart again, then they hug. Given that Carmen is dead and that Torque just killed his alternate personality, it's entirely possible that he actually killed himself in the final boss fight.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Clem's Journal and Consuela's Diary.
  • Arc Villain: The game has various antagonistic characters for certain sections, such as Dr. Killjoy, Hermes, and Hargrave.
  • Asshole Victim: No matter what moral path you go down, Torque will have to murder many more human beings. Lots of them deserve it.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Berserk mode in the first game, especially if you're going for a good karma run. Its attacks are very powerful, but you cannot heal during it, it counts as an evil action, and NPCs you have to escort tend to get caught up in its attacks. Ties That Bind altered this so that berserk Mode no longer counts as an evil action and is actually changed/upgraded by your karma level, but NPCs remain just as dumb, so it must be used very carefully.
  • Ax-Crazy: Numerous inmates and Correction Officers turn out to be this once all Hell breaks loose. Torque can turn out to be this as well, if you go down the Evil ending path.
    • If you go down the neutral path in the first game, this happens with Torque's eldest son.
  • Badass Normal: Any one of the Correctional Officers who manage to kill some of the Malefactors. There are a few of them who do. In the sequel, anyone who's fought Malefactors and survived.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In the second game, if Torque follows the evil path, Blackmore will fully take over.
    Blackmore: Now I'll RULE this town!
  • Bald of Authority: Blackmore is essentially the leader guy of crime in Baltimore (and who knows what else). However, it turns out that Blackmore is a personality that exists only in Torque's head. Torque is certainly not bald. In fact, a picture of Blackmore from Jordan's point of view shows Torque wearing a cowboy hat. Interestingly enough, the first game had a cut-out prologue that showed Torque wearing a cowboy hat, which falls off when he turns into a monster. He does not put it back on. Is this Fridge Brilliance or what?
  • Bloody Murder: Don't step in the Mainliner pools after they die. Trust us.
  • Boring Yet Practical: In the first game, your trusty shiv (and later axe) will not only kill most enemies fairly easily, but stun them so as to prevent reprisal while you're doing it. Even on the hardest difficulty, they still serve as the most efficient way to deal with at least half of the monsters. (Anything that can shoot back, unless it's alone, should be responded to in kind.)
  • Body Horror: The monsters were designed by the grand master himself, Stan Winston, and represent facets of human malignancy. Expect sickness.
  • Breath Weapon: It's implied Hermes now breathes his poisonous gas. His voice actor also inhales and exhales deeply as part of his Creepy Monotone.
  • Buried Alive: The origin of the Burrowers — as an execution method in the first, originating from Irish workers buried alive in accidents in the second.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": All of the demons and monsters are given the official name of "Malefactors". Several prisoners have their own theories as to what they really are, though, and they appear completely organic when the Foundation begins to study them.
  • Children Are Innocent: The backstory for the Infernas is a horrific aversion; they were originally three little girls who lived in a Puritan village founded on Carnate Island, who decided it would be super-fun to start accusing people of being witches. The resultant trials and hysteria, naturally, got about thirteen people burned as witches. The guilt of what they had done drove them over the edge, and so they leapt off of a cliff to their death.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: An incredibly dark version is in the second game, with a teenager drugged out of his mind following you half-naked and shivering, begging you (who he thinks is his father, in his overdose-laden delusions) to protect him and help him to safety.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The first game uses all Seven Dirty Words in the opening cutscene. And it only gets more profane from there!
  • Combat Tentacles: The Burrowers use their chains in this manner. The Creeper has a particularly disturbing version — they're impaled through the victims of his crimes.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Dialogue from a CO in the first game invokes this, as he details how desperately he tried to search for any sort of answer as to what's happening but ultimately finds nothing. He ultimately blows his head off after this admission and also after admitting he's cornered. Torque later finds a CO with his head missing, next to a radio and a shotgun, implying this to be the same guard.
    Correctional Officer: I have seen the unspeakable, and I won't be at its mercy any more.
  • Creepy Child: The Infernas, little girls who burst into flame and attack you if you get too close.
    • Potential addition; in Ties that Bind, there is a point in the game where a woman is trying to get to her baby, whom you can hear crying and presume to be under the white sheet in the living room. Turns out when you do finally check it out, the baby actually isn't there...
  • Deadly Gas: Hermes preferred the gas chamber, died by the gas chamber, and thus came back as a being of gas. This lampshades and justifies the green color in a single swoop by saying that he intentionally colored the gas so that people can see it coming.
  • Death of a Child: The murder of two children is a crucial backstory event that colours all the events in the series. Also, the Infernas in the first game are ghosts who represent the petty cruelty children can commit, and have to be slain in order to progress (although thankfully not while in their ghostly Undead Child form). In the second game, there is a sequence involving a baby mentioned below, which is in some ways the most unsettling part of the game.
  • Degraded Boss: The first fight with a Burrower is slowly foreshadowed, with its trail leading out of the open graves in the cemetery and the disturbance of its passing underground visible several times. It finally attacks not Torque, but a CO in a cutscene, which cuts into the actual fight. Within 5 minutes, you'll be fighting two of them with some Slayers thrown in on top.
  • Developer's Foresight: If you try to get on Clem's raft without him, he laughs as the raft bursts into flames, injuring you.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The axe takes longer to swing than the shiv and leaves you vulnerable to being hit before you can follow through, but with careful timing, it lets you stun-juggle nearly any enemy in the game with no fear of retaliation.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Hermes is basically one giant reference to the Holocaust. A sadistic prison guard who enjoyed killing people while justifying it that he was just following orders and who loved using gas more than anything. Hell, his boss fight ends when you put him in an oven.
    • The premise of the game is one big metaphor for criminal recidivism, especially if Torque chooses the good morality choices.
      • If the player chooses the "good" choices, Torque is revealed to have been framed and his rescuer tells him that he has a chance of a retrial so he can clear his name because the prosecutor is being indicted. If the player gets the bad ending, Torque is revealed to be guilty as charged and becomes a monster who kills his rescuer before running away into the woods.
      • Horace Gauge, one of the ghosts of Carnate Island, blames the justice system for his wife's death because they chose to send him to a prison full of people who were far worse than him, rather than help rehabilitate him (even stating that he was imprisoned over an assault charge that was implied to have been done in self-defense given how much he insists that he would kill a man out of love for his wife). The failure of the justice system caused him to snap from fear and believe his wife will die without his protection.
        Horace Gauge: I can't even remember what I was in here for, beatin' up some guy, whatever. I got screwed by the system. Fuck 'em, they fucked my life, they're as responsible for my old lady's dyin' as I am. Nobody wants the whole story, just lock 'em up, throw away the key, see ya next life. I just wanted to keep her safe. I couldn't protect her while I was on the inside.
      • The release of the Malefactors is a visual metaphor for this, as they were released when a person of true moral conflict comes into a place of pure evil, which includes sending an innocent man to an extremely dangerous, maximum-security prison called Abbott State Penitentiary.
  • Driven to Suicide: Carnate Island has a high suicide rate. The Puritan girls leapt into the sea after they realized a witch hunt is not a game, the commander of Fort Maleson blew his own head off rather than face court martial, and Abbott Penitentiary has the highest suicide rate of any prison in America.
  • DVD Bonus Content: A rare video game example: the first game came with the short film Prison Is Hell, a documentary about the history and hauntings of the Eastern State Penitentiary.
  • Enemy Mine: Twice in the first game, once in the second. In the first, COs team up with the prisoner Torque in order to fight their way out through a part of the level. In the second, Jordan of the Foundation teams up with Torque when the Malefactors really get thick. Except she still wants to kill you. Whoops. If you've been going the Evil route, she does genuinely team up with you. But if you don't end up killing her, she gets captured by The Creeper and you get good karma.
  • Enemy Within: Torque can transform into a Malefactor himself to utterly tear things to shreds. If you're good, it's just Torque on an adrenaline rush. If you're neutral or bad, it's ambiguous if you actually change. In the second game, the Big Bad of it all turns out to be Blackmore, a split personality.
    • It's theorized that the monstrosities that appear are basically this to an entire city or location that's gathered enough sins.
  • Enemy Without: The final boss of the first game. As well, for his boss fight, Dr. Killjoy creates more direct external replicas of the above-mentioned Enemy Within.
  • Epileptic Trees: In-universe: Nobody knows for sure what causes the disaster, but there sure are a hell of a lot of people theorizing about it. Prisoners blame the guards, guards blame the prisoners, maybe it's magic, maybe it's the end of the world, maybe it's the result of hallucinogens being released, maybe it's all in some way related to Torque himself (just as hell breaks loose, a voice does say "been waiting for you" as he arrives), maybe it's all in Torque's mind — and we never find out for sure.
  • Escort Mission: Several in each game, but all are entirely optional. When you meet up with a fellow survivor, you can either help them fight through the monsters to a "safe" location where they can escape/hide, kill them yourself, or just ignore them and let the monsters eat them. Most are actually rather tough and can hold their own in a fight if you lend a hand, but some (particularly the unarmed junkie and the Warden's son in the second game) have a tendency to die fairly quickly unless you're really good at protecting them.
    • There's two really annoying ones in the first game. Torque's friend from another prison has to be carried over several areas, including a huge choke point with lots of enemies in close quarters. The guard in the final stretch is also hard to do, since there's plenty of enemies and the deadly Infernas.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In the first game's prologue "Waiting To Die", a couple of inmates recognize Torque and remember that he's in prison for killing his wife and kids. This disgusts them so much, they try to shank Torque, which results in Torque going berserk and killing them in self-defense. Then there's the other death row inmates in Torque's wing; Slick may give Torque a pass for killing his wife, but draws the line at kids, and all of them show a distinct hatred for Floyd, a pedophile.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Pretty much Carnate at the end of the first game, aside from about one or two people.
  • Evil Is Easy: Technically, apathy is the easiest path. It's a lot easier to let your companions die in battle without meaning to. Evil is second, since sometimes it might seem worthwhile to just kill your companions rather than waste time covering for them. Good is by far the hardest, because your companions, though fairly competent fighters, simply aren't up to the challenge of surviving.
  • Expy: Horace Gauge is a more morally sound version of Horace Pinker.
    • Joining Horace is Dr. Killjoy, who is visually based off of Vincent Price, and would have been a role he'd have starred in.
  • Fights Like a Normal: In the first game, Torque spends half the narrative trying to rein in and control his emerging monstrous superpowers, despite the fact that they are his greatest advantage against the Malefactors. You know, apart from the obvious...
  • Flushing-Edge Interactivity: A restroom very close to your first cell is the location of the Cutscene where you pick up Torque's first Morality Pet. Needless to say, the toilets needlessly work (though if your graphics card isn't up to snuff, you can expect the most geometrically unsound flush imaginable).
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The Final Boss in Ties that Bind requires insanity mode to damage; there's a bug where the game will fail to respawn enemies mid-fight, not allowing you to actually beat him.
  • Genius Loci: Both Carnate Island and Baltimore have gathered a lot of bitterness and anger over the years of their existence.
    • It's implied that any place that has enough evil in its past can become this sort of malevolent Genius Loci, and begin spawning Malefactors representing the sins that brought it to this state. It's further implied that everywhere actually has enough evil for this — you just have to look to discover it.
      • One document in the second game reveals that Malefactors have been seen in a few other places, and records of them go back decades.
  • The Ghost: Ranse Truman and Consuela in the first game. They both make physical appearances in Ties That Bind.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The Horde from Ties That Bind. One minute, you're preparing to enter a mysterious glowing portal in the floor in the middle of the prison which, according to your wife's ghost, will take you to Blackmore's drowning pool. Then this humongous, nightmarish worm-thing emerges from the gate, smashes a chopper, and proceeds to attack you in the following battle.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: A variation is used. In the first game, when Torque is faced with a moral decision at some points, his wife Carmen acts as the shoulder angel and Torque's evil side acts as the shoulder devil. The sequel has Carmen act as the shoulder angel and Blackmore act as the shoulder devil. In both games, they do not actually appear at Torque's side at these points, but their voices can be heard.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The surviving Corrections Officers that you meet are much ruder to you than the surviving convicts. This may be because you may have killed your wife and kids.
    • The Head C.O. and Ernesto are two noteworthy examples, as they become Torque's allies out of necessity rather than liking you personally, but they can develop a grudging respect towards you if you help them. With all the monsters infesting the island, even they know they can't be picky with their allies.
  • Gorn: There is no tasteful way to describe this. Let's say that when someone gets killed, a good portion of a nearby wall will be covered in blood.
  • Guns Akimbo:
    • In the first game, Torque can dual wield revolvers; the manual lampshades the impracticality of it by pointing out that while doing this may look cool, it makes you less accurate. That said, some things are big enough that you don't need good aim.
    • Ties That Bind expands Torque's arsenal and gives him more firearms to dual wield (mostly small arms or handgun-sized guns). Torque even has a unique pickup animation when picking up a similar gun to the one he already had.
  • Happy Ending Override: Ties That Bind does this to the first game if you got the good karma ending. So you conquered your demons, learned you were innocent, and escaped Carnate? Whoops, you just got captured, the creatures are now in Baltimore, and your innocence, not to mention sanity, is once again in question. Lampshaded by Dr. Killjoy at the theater.
  • Heroic BSoD: One of the guards in the first game reverts to a childlike state due to the horrors around him. In the second game, in a mook version of this, a few of The Foundation's troops are in obvious PTSD.
  • Heroic Mime: Torque. Interestingly, an early trailer had him speaking, and he does have several lines of dialog in the second game, but he still remains a fairly silent dude.
  • Homemade Flamethrower: One of the weapons in the first game, is a homemade flamethrower that needs to be assembled from different parts like a bicycle pump, gas cans, and flares. You can find the instructions that tell you what you'll need, although they are not necessary for creating one. Judging by the instructions and how it was seen next to the corpse of a prisoner, it seems it was going to be used for rioting or escaping the prison.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Malefactors are made from human sins and cruelty, but the biggest threat are other humans, ranging from the Foundation to prisoners; the bosses tend not to be monsters, but humans, living or otherwise. One mook in the second game recognizes this — there's far, far too many human sins, and thus, unlimited demons.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: Foundation soldiers have World War 2 era issue M3 grease guns as their standard issue weapon. The coast guard rescuer who picks you up at the end of the first game even comments that the soldiers are carrying guns that he's never seen before when they stop his boat at the beginning of the second game.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The Mainliners use lethal injection syringes to attack, throwing it at a distance or stabbing it directly into the neck.
  • Institutional Apparel: Just about every prisoner except Torque is in an orange jumpsuit with white tees underneath. Torque has orange pants and a white wife-beater.
  • Ironic Hell: Some Malefactors are grotesque undead Ironic Hells for the individuals that committed the sins that spawned them. Others embody broader concepts and don't seem to be anyone in particular.
  • Jump Scare: The game loves to slide horrific stills across the player's view, particularly when they're running from Malefactors. The stills include images like Torque's murdered family, posed shots of Malefactors, and even Torque himself swinging from a noose.
    • Turning on cheat codes drastically increases the frequency of these images.
  • Karma Meter: Torque always carries a photograph of his family with him. How filthy or clean the photograph is serves as your guide on whether or not you actually killed them.
    • Torque's own jump suit and general hygene level change depending on how good or how evil he is — it's a bit grungy starting out, it's filthy and he's covered in open sores when you're pure evil, he looks just fine and recently-washed when pure good. His berserk transformation also changes when you're good or evil in the second game; the evil berserk Torque looks much more demonic, while the good berserk Torque looks like a muscled-up version of his normal self. The attacks also change in the second game. There's also an undocumented bonus to good and evil — when you're pure good, health packs heal you more (and heal much less when you're evil), but conversely, you can berserk more when evil.
    • It's easy to miss from time to time, but character comments and even hallucinations change depending on your current alignment as early as the first half-hour of the game. The second game has a moment where it reviews every single person you've either helped, hurt, or abandoned.
      • The second game allows you to choose from which of the three endings the original The Suffering you finished at to choose as a starting point. Interestingly, how you begin the second game has repercussions as late as the final boss and who is or is not with you at that time.
  • Karmic Death: When the Creeper dies after his boss fight, his coat opens, and the whores he killed turn around and stab him to death. Counts as The Dog Bites Back as well. Made all the more creepy by the moans of pleasure the Creeper makes as it happens.
  • The Killer Becomes the Killed: Hermes is a very interesting take on this. As a prison executioner, he made an entire career murdering people in different ways, but he stated that, out of all the psychopaths who applied for the job, he was the only one focused enough to get it. In fact, he was so focused that he gassed himself in the chamber, just to have knowledge of both sides of the "experience".
  • Knight Templar: Hargrave in the first game. He considers everything that's happening around him as the sign of the end times, and that he is a beacon of justice to pass judgment upon all prisoners.
    • Dr. Killjoy also counts; he seems to genuinely believe that his attempts to "cure" his patients, including Torque, is for their own good, despite the fact that most of them end up dead.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In the second game, Killjoy points out how all of Torque's doubts about his past are back after supposedly being resolved in the first game, and says that it seems like a retread of a box office favorite.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Torque can't remember what happened on the night his family was murdered. Also, it turns out that every time Torque goes monstrous, he has no recollection of what happens.
  • Laughing Mad: One of the ghost voices on the island is someone who was left in a permanent state of this after her treatment by Dr. Killjoy.
  • Left Hanging:
    • Dr. Killjoy reveals near the end of the second game that he knew Torque's mother, but this isn't followed up on. It's also implied that there's something special about Ranse Truman, but we don't find out what.
    • Ranse Truman may have the same abilities Torque has. He did say that he was handling the first couple waves of monsters sent at him just fine, but he would not have won against the last wave without taking extreme measures. Hmm...
  • Lethal Joke Item: The first game has the hidden weapon, the Gonzogun. It's a chicken (and a Shout-Out to The Muppets). It shoots eggs out its rear. It's also ridiculously broken, able to take down most enemies in one or two shots. The only downside is the incredibly limited ammo.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Eldritch embodiments of man's inhumanity to man wreaking havoc on the darkest, most horror-ridden structures and settlements of man? Check. The opportunity to lay waste to them with machine guns and grenades? Check.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: It's implied that Dr. Killjoy is in some way related to Torque, as he mentions knowing Torque's mother. There's also a painting of Killjoy in the Asylum where Killjoy is the spitting image of Torque.
  • Mad Doctor: Dr. Killjoy has an absolutely abysmal patient survival rate, and has… questionable… methods at his disposal. Subverted, however, in that Killjoy has only your best interests at heart and genuinely wants you to be cured. He even scolds you if you make evil decisions.
  • Manchild: Luther in the first game. The Malefactors and their effect on Carnate have taken a traumatic toll on him.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • It's not quite clear whether or not Torque actually transforms into a creature while in berserk mode. Dr. Killjoy's analysis in the first game says that he doesn't, it's merely a combination of Torque's rage and imagination. However, NPC comments in both games imply that Torque really does transform into something.
    • Dr. Killjoy, Horace, and Hermes are all definitely real. It's more ambiguous whether Torque brought the ghosts of his family with him to Carnate, or if their appearance is Torque working through his grief… and possible guilt.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • You have the option to do this once in the first game, to a guard who's still alive despite most of his flesh being eaten by rats. Doing so nets you good points on the Karma Meter; your wife even chimes in and tells you that you did the right thing.
    • This also happens in the second game, but the guy you'd do it to ends up dying anyway when a boss comes out of a nearby hole, knocking a large crate into the area where he was sitting.
  • Miscarriage of Justice:
    • During WWII, a general at Fort Maleson executed three of his men for treason after a German airplane crashed into the island. A subsequent court martial found no evidence justifying his accusations.
    • In the Good Ending, the guy who comes to rescue Torque from the island tells him the prosecutor at his trial for triple murder was found to be corrupt and that said prosecutor's cases were going to be up for review.
  • Mole Monster: Burrowers are Malefactors that burrow through the ground and emerge to attack by whipping chains at Torque. The basis of their form is people being Buried Alive.
  • Monster Misogyny: The Creeper in the second game is the incarnation of a pimp who abused, murdered, raped, and did all sorts of unspeakable things to his whores. One of his lines was: "Blood makes the best lubricant."
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Your actions in the game determine whether Torque really was innocent or not.
  • Multiple Endings: Depending on whether you were a sinner, a saint, or somewhere in between, the truth behind the death of Torque's family changes.
    • It even zigzags for each variant. Ended the first game neutral, ended the second game good? Your son was pumped up on drugs given to him by Blackmore, and you did accidentally kill your wife, as opposed to the "normal" neutral ending, in which Torque's abuse of his son caused him to commit murder-suicide and he beat his wife to death in anger. And so on.
    • A letter from Torque's late wife, how she viewed her life with him before his first arrest prior to the story, depends on how you end the game. Ended the game good, she didn't want the rest of the family to be separated for too long. Ended bad, she claims they were better off without him.
    Accompanied with it is a picture of Torque's wife and children. Its quality also depends on the ending. Good keeps it clean. Neutral has it worn out. Bad leaves it stained in blood.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Expecting Torque to open a locker like a mere mortal? Pah! He stands aside the door and taps it with his gunhand, causing it to bounce open before him.
  • Mundanger: In the first game, the good ending has Torque framed by a Government Conspiracy. The evil ending has him apparently being manipulated by the same supernatural evil he finds in Carnate. The neutral one? Torque accidentally killed his wife, and his elder son finds out, intentionally drowning his little brother before committing suicide.
  • Murderer P.O.V.: At the end of the game, depending on your ending, Torque gets flashes of memory detailing how the murder exactly happened and why.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Dr. Killjoy and Hermes T. Haight.
  • No Canon for the Wicked: All three endings from the first game lead into the second one (with effects as late as the final boss fight), but if you don't have an Old Save Bonus and haven't beaten the game at least once, you can only start where the neutral ending left off.
  • No Cure for Evil: The more evil Torque is in the first game, the less healing pills work on him (conversely, he's able to berserk more).
  • No Fair Cheating: Using cheats will result in a significant increase in random flashes of horrific images and sound.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: The Gorger in the second game is inspired by this. A priest running a soup and meat kitchen finds himself woefully low on supplies. Rather than let his flock starve, he commits himself to make do with the meat available.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Numerous other characters compare Torque to themselves, and vice-versa. Depending on your moral path, they may be right.
  • Offing the Offspring: What Torque is accused of, along with murdering his wife.
  • Old Save Bonus: Having a cleared game save from the first game can have minor effects in the sequel. Depending on which ending you got, the opening cutscene will be different. An evil or good ending allows you to have Torque's insanity form match that right from the start.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Where Torque grew up. What exactly his experiences were is never stated, but they're implied to be pretty horrible.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Noosemen rip themselves out of the ceiling to throttle you at the most inopportune times.
  • Power Incontinence: One possible interpretation of the game's events is that Torque is creating the Malefactors himself. See WMG for more.
  • Practical Effects: By nature impossible in a non-live-action video game, but the monsters for the series were designed by practical effects god Stan Winston and very much have a Practical Effects aesthetic to them — the majority of them look like they could be pulled off with a guy in a suit, animatronics, or high-end puppets.
  • Prison: The setting of the first game — the entire island of Carnate is a prison.
  • Prison Changes People: A key motif. Abbot State Penitentiary literally brings out the worst in people, the poor living conditions, brutal discipline, equally-brutal gangs, and the subtle supernatural power all slowly driving inmates insane.
  • Prison Rape: Surprisingly (but thankfully) averted. Despite the pitch-black atmosphere of the series and their portrayal of the horrors of urban society, rape has gone absolutely untouched. In fact, the only sexual situation glossed over at all is Horace murdering his wife after he has sex with her.
    • In the first game, there's a shower room where you can notice a bar of soap on the floor… With some blood.
    • While the subject of prison rape is untouched, there is a child rapist on Death Row in the original game, and Ties that Bind gave us the Creeper.
  • Projected Man: Dr. Killjoy takes the form of a ghost brought to life by a film projector, and there are lots of handy film projectors everywhere.
  • Psycho Electro: It's saying something that Horace is actually one of the most (sorta) balanced characters in the cast.
    • One of the demons that manifest in the Baltimore prison is this.
  • Psychological Torment Zone: Once Carnate "pops", it tortures the inhabitants with visions of loved ones and other horrors.
  • Puzzle Boss: Every boss in the first game, besides the first part of the final boss fight, is a puzzle of some kind.
  • Retcon: The good karma ending of the first game revealed that Torque was innocent of his family's murders. But the second game revealed that, no, he wasn't. He, in his Blackmore persona, was the one who sent the thugs to intimidate Carmen, which resulted in her and the boys' deaths. Though part of its own good karma ending explains that Blackmore never intended for them to get killed, and was angered that the thugs misunderstood his orders.
    • The first game also heavily implied that the reason why Torque's family was murdered in the good ending was because of something he did in the Special Forces, with the second game whitewashing it with a simple throwaway line of giving Blackmore the nickname the Colonel, that is used all of once in the game.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Every single enemy in the game is representative of a method of execution or an urban horror/vice.
    • The Slayer represents beheading and blade-related violence.
    • The Mainliner represents death by lethal injection and aggressive drug dealing.
    • The Marksman represents death by firing squad and gun violence.
    • The Burrower represents being buried alive.
    • The Nooseman represents death by hanging, both execution and suicide.
    • The Fester represents being devoured alive by rats.
    • The Suppressor represents police brutality.
    • The Arsonist represents being burned alive and other acts of arson.
  • Sanity Slippage: Something about Carnate Island causes people to lose their minds over time. Ranse Truman notes that Dr. Killjoy, Horace, the Fort Maleson Colonel, and many others all started out as normal people, but were corrupted over time by the nature of the Island. Torque himself will undergo this on an evil karma run.
  • Scary Black Man: Played straight by Torque, but subverted by another death row inmate in the first game. He acts in this way until the Malefcators show and start picking off the death row guys one by one, at which point he starts losing it.
  • Sequel Hook: The good ending of the first game had Torque being told by a thug that his family's death was ordered by "The Colonel". We find out about the Colonel (Blackmore) in the second game.
  • Seven Dirty Words: Uses all seven of them at the drop of a hat, and yet never in a way that seems unnatural. After all, when you've seen syringes shoved through someone's eyes, what's so bad about a naughty word or two?
  • Shock and Awe: Horace's method of execution was the electric chair, and thus has the powers of electricity as a ghost. Though these are mostly confined to simply causing some fireworks and travelling around in power boxes, later in the game Horace blows open a latched-shut cell door with his electricity.
  • Shown Their Work: When discussing the background of the Infernas, one character points out that witch burnings never took place during the Salem Witch Trials or anywhere else in Puritan America, and that the execution method was apparently unique to Carnate Island.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Usually, picking up a phone when it's not ringing does nothing. If you happen to pick up one phone late in the game, though, a girl informs you that you will die in seven days.
    • Horace shares a name with another character who was executed by electricity.
    • The phone mechanic returns in Ties That Bind, and more than half of Blackmore's lines through them are lyrics to various heavy metal songs.
    • The Slayers bear strong resemblance to the Cenobites from Hellraiser, and the Mainliners aren't far behind them.
    • In Ties that Bind, Malcolm's line while Torque has visions of his family's drowned corpses.
  • Sinister Shiv: Torque's first weapon in the first game is a shiv which he grabbed from the corpse of a fellow inmate, very fitting considering the setting. His idle animation with it equipped has him testing out his sharpness on his palms.
  • Skewed Priorities: At one point, Torque and Dallas come across a gang of three convicts in the prison yard, after just defeating a couple Slayers. Instead of working together, the head convict, Chico, is hung up over Dallas apparently swindling drugs under his nose, and tries to kill them both. It naturally doesn't end well for them.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Malcolm is older in the second game than he was in the first.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: One of the prisoners who you have to escort in the 1st game, the one in the bright yellow jumpsuit who keeps saying that the Malefactors are caused by a Government Conspiracy. He's just as sweary as everybody else on Carnate, but he's also read Mary Shelley.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Clem in the first game. Not only did he write documents on all the Malefactors, but you can tell from the get-go he's a right-up smarty-pants.
  • Split Personality: A very important plot point in the second game. Turns out all of the Malefactor-transforming that Torque's been doing is actually his second personality, Blackmore, coming to the forefront. And Blackmore is verrrry hungry for more killin'.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Torque never speaks in the first game, but gains a few spoken lines in the sequel.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Human Torque is no slouch, but going into monster form lets Torque tear enemies apart with his bare hands.
  • Survival Horror: Very much so, although its action elements are strong too, making for a highly cathartic gameplay experience. One of the developers has argued that it's "action horror," lacking survival horror's "long cut-scenes, frail central characters, clumsy controls, fixed camera angles, and sparse ammo."
  • Synchronization: The final boss fight in the first game pits you against yourself, specifically your human and monster forms one after the other. Attempting to use the same form on them will only hurt yourself, while using the opposite will not.
  • The Dog Bites Back: A literal case with Copperfield, as his Maulers will feast on him after you defeat him.
    Copperfield: So now, I know the feelin'.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: The Reverend in the soup kitchen from the past fed his Parrish human meat, leading to the creation of the Gourgers.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: To put it bluntly, Torque is not a well man. When you consider that just about everything in both games is shown through Torque's point of view, as well as the revelations made in both of them... this is where Fridge Horror gets cued.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Coast Guardsman who comes to rescue Torque at the end of the first game. Despite being sent to rescue inmates from the worst prison in America, he isn't armed and doesn't have any police backup, apparently just hoping his threat that the police are waiting on the mainland will be enough to hold off murderers and rapists. In the neutral ending, he even lets Torque stand behind him, with the heavily armed Torque immediately knocking him out and stealing his boat to escape the authorities.
  • Unholy Ground: It is implied that Carnate Island is an inherently cursed settlement — the various disasters and lapses in human decency being the island's attempt to get rid of the humans that settle there — and that the Malefactors are the Island's last resort in doing so. The same could be the case for Baltimore.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: In both games, the entire Good path is seen as this. Sometimes you can even be rewarded for it. A couple of examples is being allowed access to some guns by the Baltimore Police you rescued from the Triggermen. And a power upgrade for rescuing Ranse Truman.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The entire evil path.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: In the first game, the more evil you become, the less effective painkillers are. It's balanced out somewhat by being able to go berserk more often.
  • Villain Has a Point: Copperfield at one point will be on the phone in the second game and will ask. "When you are on the run for your life, do you really think it is wise to answer the telephone?"
  • Weapon Across the Shoulder: Torque's idle animation in the first game with the shotgun has him casually put it on his shoulder for a moment.
  • Wham Line: In the second game, Blackmore reveals his true nature as Torque's Split Personality with this line.
    Blackmore: Many people who hear the name Blackmore think I look like you, because I AM you.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Invoked directly by Hermes when trying to provoke Torque's Insanity transformation.
  • White Shirt of Death: Torque's wife-beater gets completely saturated in blood. Rarely his own. It even spontaneously cleans itself after a half-minute of non-violence… which is rare.
  • Who Forgot The Lights?: It's kind enough to let you set the brightness yourself. But since it's a horror game, it shows you a static image and tells you to make it just barely visible. The end result is dim, eerie lighting, perfect for a fright.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: The first time Torque met his future wife, she went "Torque? What kinda fool name is that?" in a playful manner.
  • Worm Sign: This indicates a Burrower is going to dig up out of the ground and sling chains at you.
  • Worthy Opponent: An interesting variation. Copperfield in the second game is the ghost of a slave catcher, and as Torque's ancestors were slaves, Copperfield continues to hunt Torque down. He seems rather pleased that Torque puts up such a struggle, and even compliments him on his actions and fighting style sometimes.

There's a difference between those that feel safest in the light, and those that feel safest in the dark. Which are you, Torque?


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Suffering Ties That Bind


The Suffering

The Suffering is a horror series created in 2004 by Surreal Software, also known for the Drakan games, and published by Midway. The player controls a man named Torque who was accused and convicted of murdering his wife and children in cold blood — the case was quick, as Torque's only defense was that he couldn't remember anything. Thus, Torque gets shipped off to Carnate Island. The days go along swimmingly until Torque moves in.<br><br>Then it all goes to Hell.<br><br>First, it was just an earthquake. Then, slowly, Torque's fellow prisoners are killed one by one in increasingly disgusting-sounding ways. A monster whizzes past Torque's cell, which opens slowly, setting him free. And thus, Torque steps forward into the halls of the Abbott Penitentiary, where prison is, quite literally, hell. Along the way, Torque finds himself in the company of an insane doctor with a more-than-professional interest in his condition, a vicious prisoner who killed his wife on a conjugal visit and took the chair, and an executioner with a particular glee in his work and eager to see Torque's blood shed. All three inflict their own unique tortures on him. It's up to the player to decide how to handle all of this: with compassion or with violence.<br><br>That is the internal battle, the fight to define Torque's mind. Of more immediate concern are the "Malefactors," the hideous monsters that spring from Carnate's soil and represent all the horror that has occurred on the island. You see, Carnate has a long and storied history with the worst aspects of the human condition. Over the centuries, period-specific sadism has soaked the island's soil with blood. As many have discovered, Carnate has become a manifestation of evil, drawing out of the violence and hatred from all who step foot on the island. And now, Carnate wants Torque to become its newest spokesman.<br><br>One perk of the game is its unique brand of horror, effortlessly mixing Psychological Horror with physical horror while keeping the bona-fide badass Torque gunning and running, and never once feeling dissonant about it.

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Main / SurvivalHorror

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