The Suffering is a cult classic horror action game released back in 2004 on the PS2. It was developed by Surreal Software and published by the now-defunct Midway. Following along in the path of silent protagonist, Torque, the player navigates through a prison being invaded by hellish creatures. These monstrosities are modeled after ways to die, or more specifically, executions. Depending on how Torque interacts with fellow inmates and the corrections officers, the ending would differ. The Suffering is one of the earliest games to incorporate a morality system that had a real tangible effect on the gameplay and the overall ending.
While survival was definitely a theme of the game, it feels and plays more like an action game. Think Max Payne without bullet time mixed with the ambiance of Silent Hill. I remember playing this game over and over again in my younger teen years. The experience was creepy and scary at first, sure; but the gameplay was incredibly fun and kept drawing me back for another play through. The scares themselves weren’t directly related to subtle horror themes, but hallucinations and jump scares that would always get me no matter how many times I’d played it. A particular section of the game in the mental ward or “mad house,” stands out in my memory, with random ink blots flashing onto the screen with a loud audio cue.
The game was received well and considered a success, with $1.5 million in profit garnered across all platform releases. This secured a spot for Surreal Software to develop a sequel for release late in the next year with the subtitle Ties That Bind. This installment wasn’t as well received as the first, with many critics wishing it wasn’t as similar to the first game. I personally was never able to play the sequel, but it’s always been a game that I’ve wanted to go back to in some way.
I think about this game quite often and wonder how it would be received if a reboot of some kind were to be released. In order for that to even happen, it has to be reasonable to begin with. The publisher of the game series, Midway, liquidated its assets and terminated public registration in 2010. Since Surreal Software was bought by Midway in 2004 shortly after the release of The Suffering, they were up for grabs with Midway’s downfall.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment scooped up the majority of Midway’s studios and assets in 2009. This publisher has done fantastic work with their own developers such as Rocksteady of Batman Arkham Asylum fame. When Warner Bros. bought Surreal Software, their name was dissolved and the team was formed as a part of Monolith Productions. You may know this studio from the revered Lord of the Rings games, Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War. It is great to see the Surreal Software team continuing with their morality system improvements in current generation games with these titles within Monolith Productions.
With this information in hand, we know that Warner Bros. holds the license for The Suffering. This is both a positive and a negative to me. The developers working for the company are some of the highest tier in the industry. Unfortunately, these studios are working on known franchises and have been for several years now. Is Warner Bros. willing to test the waters with reviving an older intellectual property? I’d love to see it, but I don’t think it’s really going to happen any time soon.
Do you remember playing The Suffering? Did you enjoy the sequel even more than the first? Leave some comments below and reminisce about this cult classic action horror title that seems to be forgotten by too many.