Genre Adventure Styles Survival Horror Developer Surreal Software, Inc. Publisher Encore, Inc.
PC game / The player controls the prisoner Torque, a hardened inmate in his late 20s, sentenced to die for a murder he may or may not have actually committed. Underneath Torque’s tough exterior hides a man who is not quite psychologically balanced, who fears far more than he would ever admit to. As a side effect of his mental instability, Torque has flashbacks to the events from his past, throbbing images that depict the events that lead up to the crime for which he was imprisoned. Torque is also subject to black outs where he becomes extremely violent and transforms into a massive monster hell-bent on destruction.
The Suffering plays as a traditional first or third-person shooter, employing the controls of the former but allowing players to switch between the two camera angles. The weapons provided to the player are reminiscent of those found in prisons: shivs, revolvers, Molotov cocktails, and a wide array of less common weapons.
In the game, the player is presented several opportunities to test their morality, usually in the form of a person who is trying to survive the horrors of the island. In most cases, the player is presented with three options: help the person (good), kill them (evil), or remain indifferent to their plight (neutral). A hallucination of Torque’s wife will attempt to convince him to take the good path in the obvious cases, while demonic voices attempt to coerce Torque into being evil. Good or evil, if done correctly, are indicated by the reaction of Torque’s wife, while being indifferent has no response, as it is accomplished by getting someone killed without direct responsibility. Not every moral choice has all three outcomes, nor are they always so clear cut; for example, in the asylum, Torque comes across a correctional officer who has lost his limbs and is slowly dying. Torque can kill the man to relieve him of his misery, which will constitute a good action, or leave him be, which constitutes a neutral one, but in no way can he perform an evil act in this instance. The decisions made in regards to these opportunities will affect the ending of the game. Torque’s “morality level” is indicated by the picture of his family in the inventory, which gets cleaner with good acts and dirtier with evil ones.
Another feature of The Suffering is Torque’s ability to transform into a monster after his insanity meter has been filled by killing other monsters. In this form, Torque can tear enemies apart and can perform a powerful shockwave attack. The more enemies the player kills in this form, the more powerful it becomes. However, the form has detrimental effects. The longer Torque stays within this form, the more damage it will do to his health. Allowing the insanity meter to run out will result in death. Torque cannot heal himself until returning to human form.
After completing the game a bonus level becomes available. Titled “Waiting to Die”, the bonus is a prelude level that takes place when Torque first arrives on the island. After completing the level the game begins as normal. The commentary in the level, activated by touching a crow that lands in a corner of the holding area, explains this level was originally intended to be the first level, but was cut from the game for story purposes during production.