Genre : Action/Horror
Developer: Surreal Software
Release Date: Fall 2005
Torque managed to make it out of the prison alive, but now he’s got other problems. Baltimore’s turned into a demonic war zone, haunted and depopulated by the demons of the city. Somewhere out amidst the chaos, there’s a man named Caleb Blackmore, who’s somehow linked to the murder of Torque’s wife and son, and a band of mercenaries who’re ignoring the monsters and focusing on Torque.
The Suffering: Ties That Bind isn’t screwing around.
The prequel was a relentlessly gory and profane action game set within a demonic prison. It was most notable, to my mind, for its alignment system. When it began, Torque was on death row for the murder of his family. As you progressed through the game, fighting demons and learning the tortured history of the prison, your actions determined whether Torque was framed or not. If you worked with other survivors and tried to save lives when you could, Torque was a good person; if you let them die or killed them yourself, he was clearly guilty, and a homicidal maniac besides.
Ties That Bind takes place directly after the first game, as Torque escapes, and takes off from The Suffering’s neutral ending. Torque’s guilt or innocence has yet to be determined, but now he’s got a new host of monsters to contend with.
The new game raises the stakes a bit. You’ve still got access to a variety of weapons, from a length of iron pipe to a state-of-the-art machine pistol, but Torque can only carry two at a time. Fortunately, you’ve also still got his big gun: the ability to take on a monstrous form, based off of Torque’s incipient insanity, that can tear almost anything apart. If you’re focusing on a more moral path, Torque’s monster is relatively calm, but if you opt to play Torque as a brutal killer, his monster will change to match.
It’s also something you genuinely need. Having played some of Ties That Bind, I can tell you that it is, if anything, tougher than the first game, and the first game was nails. Torque’s new opponents include demons based upon the worst horrors of the city, like the charred remnants of a pair of children caught in a tenement fire, and a variety of freaks that can descend upon you at almost any time. Just for fun, there’s also a group of mercenaries who, for whatever reason, have taken it upon themselves to take out Torque. You can be fighting monsters one second, and the next, there’re half a dozen guys emptying submachine guns in your general direction.
There are many occasions where sheer firepower just isn’t enough, or you’ll be running out of ammo almost as fast as you can acquire it. The Suffering games are closer to Silent Hill in their approach to horror, with that sense that whatever you’ve got might not be enough to take care of whatever’s around the next corner, and unlike Silent Hill, in The Suffering, you’re usually right. You can have enough shotgun shells to depopulate Bolivia and it might not matter.
The Suffering: Ties That Bind isn’t going to be for everyone, as it richly deserves the M rating, provides enough grue to satiate any horror fan, and isn’t afraid to beat the player into cowed submission. I can comfortably say, however, that if you liked the first one, you’re sure to like the second.
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