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The Suffering (Xbox) artwork

The Suffering (Xbox) review


"23 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This will be your new home. A concrete cell no more than 6 feet across by 9 feet deep. It is going to be your future, it is going to be your hell. Locked away for your heinous crimes, all you have for company are your thoughts and a conscience that betrays you. For an hour each day you are let out of your cell to feed, exercise and shower... but this is no reprieve from the monotony... it is much worse. What should have been a celebration of freedo..."



23 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This will be your new home. A concrete cell no more than 6 feet across by 9 feet deep. It is going to be your future, it is going to be your hell. Locked away for your heinous crimes, all you have for company are your thoughts and a conscience that betrays you. For an hour each day you are let out of your cell to feed, exercise and shower... but this is no reprieve from the monotony... it is much worse. What should have been a celebration of freedom soon degenerates into a living nightmare of near-constant terror. It is here, between the solitude that you meet the 1,000's more just like you. All equally disturbed, all looking for their own way to the top of the food chain. Forever watching your back you begin to wonder if life could possibly get any worse. It is then one night while locked away in your cell that it suddenly does. An unearthly scream tears through the darkness and slowly, almost lethargically, the prison begins to shake. As the terrified shouts of the other inmates fill the air, gun shots can be heard far off in the distance. And it is then that you begin to realize... that maybe... you are no longer alone in your cell...

Welcome to the Suffering...

Who am I?

My name is Torque and I'm an inmate on death row here at Abbot State penitentiary. How did I get here? Honestly, I would answer that if I could. But I don't really know. You see, since I was young I've been plagued by blackouts, blackouts that would come at random, and last for hours. I would wake up, dazed and confused. Lost, and unsure of where I was and how I got there. The last one though... I... think... no I couldn't have. I was accused of murdering my family. My wife and children... but I have no memory of those events. Locked away at Eastern State penitentiary I was serving my time, waiting for my call to the chair. It was there that I found myself surrounded by members of the Aryan Nation... and it was there that it happened again. This time, when I awoke, I found myself caked in blood and surrounded by the dead. Flesh and bone sliced through as if they were butter... again, they said it was me. But I don't know, perhaps it was... perhaps I am just going mad... after that incident I was transferred here to Abbot State pen, Carnate Island. This place though, it's... not right. I feel something... something is wrong...

What is it?

It is here with these questions in mind and a feeling of dread in your gut that Midway abandons you. The darkness binds all in its grip, and somewhere, out there you can hear them. Skittering, clawing, killing... monsters of the most blackest of evil. Scared and confused, these are the emotions you want from a journey into the very bowels of hell itself. There are times, moments, when reality bends around you and you find yourself viewed from behind. Third person-like, as if you were not you but an outsider looking in. Here you will bear witness to carnage that defies belief. There is no escaping the corpses that lay strewn where they fell. Half eaten and brutalized they are a graphic reminder of the danger that constantly lurks in the shadows. Not wanting to view these horrors a moment longer you turn away. Back to the path before you. Back to your dash for freedom. It's then with all the shock of a screwdriver to the back of the head that everything pulls in and once more you are yourself. Your eyes, your reality, your nightmare. Could you bend your perceptions again? Something says yes, but you question your to need none-the-less. Perhaps it is best if you limit your exposure to this rampant death after all...

When the monsters come for you, and they will, you will need to be ready. Each a horrible result of execution, they are perhaps the most disturbed visions of torment and suffering you have laid eyes upon. Stan Winston's work you think. It must be, they look like a something only he could conjure up. 7 different abominations in all... is this the scope of what Hell has to offer? Or are they simply a vanguard? A precursor of the horrors to come... Mainliners attack with a savage intensity. Pouncing without warning, they wield syringes laced with poisons. Lethal injections perhaps? The graceful ballet of the Slayers is both sickening and yet oddly mesmerizing. With blades for limbs, they move with a ''click clack... click clack'' far off in the distance. Silent only when they are ready to take your head. DECAPITATION! That must be it! The irony of it all defies belief. These are the same unfortunate souls once executed here at Abbot State, returned now to take their revenge and hunt the living. The gun! Take it! It doesn't matter which one!!! Quickly, make that decision and run! Run NOW before it is too late...

Why am I here?

My name is Torque, and I am one of Carnate Island's damned. There are others here like me, survivors... victims of the insanity that started in Abbot. They plead to me for help but... but it's not that simple. I hear things. The voices in my head... like whispers in the night they confuse and scare. ''Don't trust them'' they say, ''kill and kill again'' they demand. This voice... its desires are unspeakable. There is another though... I think it is my conscience, but it speaks as if it were my wife. Could she? No I killed her didn't I? She tells me to work with the others so that we may all escape together. I don't know though, which should I trust? Good or bad, how I react to the others I know will determine my fate. Should I surrender myself to the evil and kill indiscriminately, regardless of who or what they are? Or should I seek salvation like she suggests? The choice is mine and mine alone. As I move through Abbot and its surrounding areas I begin to imagine that my journey may not be as long as I once thought. The penitentiary, the asylum, the old homestead, the ship wreck... 10 hours from my cell to destiny if I am lucky, 12 hours if I am not. Ample opportunity to decide my fate... but something doesn't feel right... should it be... this easy?

Monsters, death, trust, distrust, and carnage... this is my world now. At least I can fight back though. A revolver, a shotgun, and a cobbled together flamethrower among others. They may not be much but they serve me well. The satisfying reassurance their power brings gives me the courage I need to see this through to the very end... regardless of the consequences. If justice comes from the barrel of a gun, then perhaps I can find salvation there too? When the monsters do come for me, they rarely attack alone. Charging in packs, they use their numbers to their advantage. As it is in prison... it always comes down to a numbers game. Beating me down, they wear away my will to live by their sheer force of persistence. It's like some sick arcade game I played as a kid, with none of those stinking puzzles. Fast and furious with equal portions of terror and fear, their attack is unrelenting. Though he may have forsaken me, I thank God for providing me with the ammunition I need. Always plentiful, I fight like a man with nothing to loose... flares, flash bangs, and torches, I really do have it all. Even the blackest of horrors is clear to me now. It is disturbing however... as times passes I seem to be growing accustomed to the madness... even... liking it?

Where did you go?

It's the quiet moments that scare the most. The horrors that the monsters bring can at least be fought, but the silence... it is... unstoppable. It cuts through your psyche like a knife through flesh, fueling your hallucinations and driving up your insanity. The sudden flashes of evil are announced with a soul shattering scream. Evil, horror, your family in despair, it doesn't matter anymore. The only thing you crave now is a way to escape these visions. Each more violent and sudden than the last, they hang in the air for only the briefest of moments before fading away into the nothingness that spawned them. As they grow in momentum you begin to feel something moving under your skin. Your flesh crawls with this alien sensation... yes, it's as if there was something inside of you wanting to get out. A monster within? Perhaps, but even if you wanted it, craved it, could you control it? Probably not, that is one door that you don't need to open. This is your fight, this is your horror and you will leave this world the same as you entered it. Kicking and screaming and fighting for air...

When will it end?

My name is... is... I... don't know who I am... or... what I am... all I know is that my journey is about to come to an end. Standing here on the brink of nothingness, I look back upon my actions, and wonder what could I have done different? It is strange... I've come this far, and seen so many terrible things, yet... I'm still alive... the creatures that inspired so much fear, in the end, did little more than that. I suppose I should be grateful for such a reprieve... it could have been so much worse... and... despite the chaos and madness, I felt... I almost... I... enjoyed it. The blood and gore will be with me forever as the innocent dead serve as my companions on my final few steps. Sweet Jesus, my family... no matter what happens next I will never forget you. The monsters I have encountered, beautiful and efficient... how I learned to love and despise you. For now though I stand on the edge of oblivion. One step away from my final destiny. Which will it be? One of three fates await. Good or bad, I will embrace it now no matter the outcome. So very tired... Oh God, please let me put an end to my suffering...

* fade to black *

Pros
----
* There's a great background story that keeps players guessing from beginning to end
* The ability to change the perspective from third to first person at anytime is great
* Fantastic monster designs are sure to disturb
* The atmosphere generated by the game is first class, the Suffering WILL scare you
* Each of the weapons handles well and feels great
* There are multiple endings that open for the player depending on their in game actions
* Genre standard puzzle elements take a back seat to all the action
* Fast arcade action laced with moments of sheer terror
* Atmosphere, atmosphere, ATMOSPHERE!

Cons
----
* The beast transformation while a great idea is unwieldy and mostly unnecessary
* It is far too easy to complete
* More monster designs would have been appreciated

Rating: 8.0/10

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Community review by midwinter (August 27, 2004)

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