The Suffering

Moby ID: 12511
Xbox Specs

Description official descriptions

You play the role of Torque, a death row inmate with an ambiguous past who has been imprisoned for slaying his ex-wife and children. Shortly after being interred in a new prison on Carnate Island, an earthquake appears to release demonic creatures based on the many modes of execution used in the sordid history of the island. These creatures proceed to eliminate much of the prison population, leaving only you and a scant few other inmates and guards to eliminate the horde and find out what has happened.


  • 劫难 - Chinese spelling (simplified)

Groups +




See any errors or missing info for this game?

You can submit a correction, contribute trivia, add to a game group, add a related site or alternate title.

Credits (Xbox version)

210 People (171 developers, 39 thanks) · View all



Average score: 78% (based on 35 ratings)


Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 69 ratings with 5 reviews)

Survive the terror!

The Good
The Suffering is one of the best games of terror ever made. The game has elements of third-person action permeated with a dark atmosphere and extremely violent, full of aggression.

The sound effects, they are very well produced, causing a terrifying atmosphere to the scenes, always in an atmosphere of suspense and terror. In many scenes, screams and loud noises cause extremely strong impact on the player.

The controls of the game are very simple and intuitive, similar to most action games in the third person. You control your character with the keys W, A, S and D, jump with the spacebar and guide his aim by the mouse, striking with his right button.

The game takes place in a rough place, no fictional elements or too much special effects. At first, you have only a knife and must make your way through the stages with it. Your character will "develop" over the scenarios, gaining new weapons and possibilities.

The Bad
The special effects may cause some discomfort in sensitive players.

The Bottom Line
If you like action and horror games and has spent hours in front of the television playing classics like Silent Hill or Resident Evil, The Suffering was made specially for you. The game has several qualities that stood out in his time, making it a "must download" for fans of horror.

Windows · by Perfil Falso (777) · 2012

Tight horror-shooter that's better than it looks

The Good
Between the gratuitous profanity, the over-the-top gore, and it's obvious console roots, The Suffering is actually a very good horror-shooter. The game's creepy, confined atmosphere and fenced-in gunplay are spot on, and the gameplay has a smooth flow from start to finish. The obstacles, enemies and environments are creative and appropriately ghastly. The few puzzles in the game are coherent and logical enough to prevent the action from screeching to a halt.

The Bad
The Suffering is a PS2-level console port, and it shows. Textures are low-res and washed out. Polygon counts are fairly low. While the game provides opportunities to for the player to "choose the light or dark side" during his travels, the actual impact on the game is fairly minimal beyond some cutscenes and the addition of some hapless allies. The game is completely and utterly linear, a single-player thrill ride that loses all of its charms on further play. Finally, I didn't mind the game's splatterhouse gore and non-stop hard-R profanity, but some might.

The Bottom Line
"The Suffering" is a 1st/3rd-person horror-shooter that takes place in and around a haunted prison. You play "Torque", a death-row hard-case with real anger management problems, and who may (or may not) have slaughtered his family. Put the prison's outer demons and Torque's inner demons together, and you get an amusingly bloody, surprisingly amoral, and brutally satisfying little romp. Highly recommended, especially for the low price you can purchase it for these days.

Windows · by Chase Dahl (5) · 2007

Silent Hill 2 meets Max Payne. And, against all odds, it works.

The Good

The conversation between the two Correctional Officers escorting him to Abbott Penitentiary's death row make quite clear that Torque isn't our typical hero; more like he's the exact opposite: He's been sentenced to the electric chair for the murder of his wife, Carmen, who got her head smashed in, and his two sons, Corey and Malcolm, thrown out a second-floor window and drowned in a bathtub respectively.

Since he was a child, Torque's been known to break into violent outbursts, but the thing is, he can't recall anything that happens during those periods, as he always blacks them out. This means that, despite the incriminating evidence, noone knows for sure whether he actually killed his family or not.

Only minutes after he's locked in his cell, the lights go out, alarms start ringing, and strange noises are heard. Something is lurking within the shadows, all around the place, even inside the very cells. Hissing. Grinding what sounds like blades against blades. In a matter of seconds, all the inmates on death row are brutally murdered as they desperately scream for help. Except for Torque. His cell door, actually, is broken open by something that passes running by before he can tell what it was. As he steps out, the entire prison is shaken by a violent earthquake. A CO runs up and starts telling Torque to go back to his cell, but he never gets to finish the sentence: A sharp blade comes from above and is thrusted into his skull.

The Suffering is one of those games you don't see coming. A quick look at its visuals (You can check the screenshots right here) might make most people dismiss it with a sneer, as it pretty much looks like something released about 3 or 4 years before the date it actually came out. The description in its rap sheet won't help much either, as the basic premise sounds like one of the many mediocre horror/survival titles that come out every year.

When I first read about it, my immediate reaction was: "So, Silent Hill meets Max Payne", which didn't exactly sound like an idea that would appeal to me. However, the opportunity to give it a go came up, I had nothing else of interest to play at the time, it was dirt-cheap, so what the hell, I got it. And it blew my socks right off. In a somewhat similar sense to Oni -which I often mention as one of my favorite games of all times- The Suffering's prime brilliance is the fact that it doesn't try to oversell itself; it doesn't make any big promises, but for every single thing it promises, it delivers in droves.

ATMOSPHERE AND GAMEPLAY: Who would've thought you'd get along this fine?

The first thing that surprised me after playing for a few hours, was how unexpectedly effective the mixture of atmospheric horror and pulse-pounding action was. You see, I'm a guy who loves action games and horror games, but I want them to be well apart from one another. Up until now, I never believed in mixing horror and action, since history seemed to haven proven that such a hybrid would inevitably result in failure: Either the action is too good, and the horror atmosphere is lost to the fast pacing (See Resident Evil), or the horror atmosphere reigns supreme, and the so-called action sequences are an infuriating, clumsy exercise you'll be avoiding as much as possible (See Silent Hill).

Like most good horror games, The Suffering puts you through dimly lit scenarios with an eerie soundtrack, subtle yet unnerving background noises, and frequent ghostly apparitions; all of which succeeds flawlessly in building a haunting horror background. The odd thing is, every now and then the atmosphere is suddenly interrupted by a wave of creatures, the volume is cranked up as they roar and grunt and the soundtrack accomodates to fit the intense action, and, even though you're immersed into a heated, pulse-pounding firefight served by a tremendously capable game engine, it all still feels effectively horrific.

It's hard to describe, and personally I find it even harder to believe, but the action in The Suffering, however fast and furious, doesn't break the horror atmosphere. It does undoubtedly interrupt it, but somehow it still maintains it during the fight, and makes it feel even more effective once things calm down again.

I think it's probably due to the feel of tension that predominates during the tremendously demanding action sequences; maybe it's the fact that even though your character might be fast and responsive, your enemies are even faster, they can burrow under the ground or walk on the ceiling, and there's a lot of them, so you need to stay on your toes at all times... I don't know. It's the first time I've ever experienced a game in which such a heated combat doesn't ruin the horror atmosphere.

Like I just said, the controls are terrific. For starters, the guys at Surreal came up with the wackiest of all ideas for a game in which you use a gun: A Y-axis! And idea so crazy it might just work!

Seriously, though; Capcom, Konami, and all you horror/survival brainiacs: Are you looking at this? Woooowoooo! I can aim uuuuuuuuup... aaaand I can aim dooooooooown... See? Left, right, and then... Uuuuuuuup... aaand dooooown... Crazy, huh? You see? This is how you make a shooter, you fudgepacking dimwits. With this kind of control interface, you can send me as many zombie dogs or zombie birds or zombie what-have-you as you want, since I can actually aim at them. It wasn't so hard, was it? Thanks, Surreal.

I gotta admit I don't know how comfortable this kind of interface is in a console, what with those thumbstick thingies, but screw consoles anyway: With a mouse, it plays just perfect.

Aside from that whole Y-Axis extravaganza, The Suffering's is as smooth a control interface as they come; it's fast, it's responsive, it's accurate, it's simply solid. You have the classic selection of guns (Shiv, axe, revolver, Thompson machinegun, shotgun, flamethrower, grenades, molotov cocktails), each one works slightly better for one particular kind of enemy, and they all have that distinct oomph feeling that only really good shooters can give to their weapons. You are shooting stuff, and you know damn sure said stuff feels it (And you do have your localized damage too. Or rather, localized gibbing). There's not much more to say about the combat. You have a key to roll and avoid attacks, which comes pretty short of Max Payne's sideways dive, but gets the job done anyway, and that's it. And it doesn't need anymore, honestly.

You see, the main attraction is how tough the game is: The Suffering is unarguably a difficult game, but it is so in a carefully balanced way. This is one of the exceptionally rare games in which you actually enjoy the challenge; once you master the tougher fights, you might even feel like cranking the difficulty up a notch. I know I did, and it's not a feeling I remember having had in any other game before.

The violent outbursts Torque is so prone to are a relevant gameplay factor too, and they're represented with our man transforming into a foul-looking, insanely strong beast. This "insanity mode" is supposed to be a melee alternative for the fights, but since you can only use it once you filled your corresponding "insanity meter" and it only lasts for a few seconds, it ends up being more of a last resource weapon when you're either cornered or heavily outnumbered. The creature has two different attacks with its arm-blade (One of them impales the enemies, which can be pretty funny at times, like when you make a Shish Kebab with two or more monsters) and one super-duper kill-it-all smart-bomb attack, which can be upgraded about 5 or 6 times by using it repeatedly, up to a point where it becomes nothing too short of a thermal detonation.

Finally, there are Non-Player Characters that can join Torque every now and then, and they count among the most capable fighters I've seen in any game ever. They range from fairly helpful to, especially towards the last levels, downright vital if you wanna make it out in one piece. One interesting thing is that some of these NPC's will take the lead, and they'll show you alternative paths through the levels that you could easily miss if you went on your own. Of course, having alternative paths to navigate a level spells "replayability" in any language.

The game is played from a third person perspective with the camera pointing at Torque's back at all times, but you can switch to first person view at will, although it's not that much useful a feature. It might come in handy when you want to examine certain particularly enclosed environments, but you might as well play the entire game through without ever switching views. Still, it is nice to be able to do it.

GRAPHICS: And to think it looked so nice on paper...

Now, on to the graphics. There are a couple of nice special effects into work, these are your standard-fare DirectX9-class effects, such as motion blur and that blinding lighting we see everywhere nowadays; but make no mistake: The Suffering is an ugly game. A mix of low poly count, simple and poorly (If at all) filtered textures, and a color palette that leaves a lot to be desired add up to a plain ugly view, wherever you look at. The only things that look truly, consistently good, are the presentation of the different journals and notes, and the main menu, all of which have a lot of work put into them. Every other graphic in the game (Which is to say, the actual graphics of the game) respond to the same formula: Good ideas, poorly executed.

The locations, for example, should be really good. If you can abstract yourself from the actual images you're looking at, you can tell there's a lot of work put into the design. I bet the concept art is jaw-dropping, just it doesn't translate into the final result.

Something similar happens with the monsters. The ideas behind most of them are really good: Basically, they're incarnations of different ways of dying in a prison, and as such, you have the Slayer, representing decapitation, who has his head re-attached in a rather makeshift way to his body and has long blades attached to his arms and legs; you have the Marksman, representing execution by firing squad, a gigantic, blindfolded creature with shotgun, machinegun and rifle cannons coming out through the flesh of his back; the Mainliner, representing the lethal injection, a clumsy lump of a crawling humanoid who has his entire body pierced by syringes, and so on.

The ideas are generally good, and some of them have some really cool behavior patterns, like the way the Slayers sometimes walk slowly towards you while grinding one of their blades against a wall or the floor, making sparks fly and looking really threatening; but again, they ultimately fall short from their promising concepts because of a poor execution.

SOUND, MUSIC AND ACTING: Bring on those Oscars

The soundscape plays a major role supporting both the action and the suspense. Every single noise fits its purpose brilliantly, something that's especially noticeable in the impressive sound of the gunshots or the Slayers' blades.

The soundtrack is not precisely Top-40 material, but it does an awesome job supporting the atmosphere. During combat, it turns into aggressive, intense tunes with a very strong use of percussion. During the most, say, atmospheric scenes it's eerie and haunting, with a surprising amount of layers. The first time I played the game with earphones I was cruising through a particularly calmed level, I started paying close attention to the soundtrack, and was suprised to discover a bluesy harmonica playing faintly somewhere in there.

The voice acting is well above average. This is one of those rare examples where the cast characters (At least the main ones) truly shine with their own light due to the great selection of voices and the solid line delivery, aside from some fine dialogues. True, there is some bad acting here and there, like a couple of guys failing miserably at their attempt to sound hispanic, but they're very rare.

Torque is a voiceless character, much like Gordon Freeman, but he does have some expressive and even comical gestures a couple of times, like his reaction the first time he faces a Marksman, armed only with a revolver. That scene needs to be seen.

STORYLINE & STORYTELLING: Simple and effective

One of the most interesting things in The Suffering is the story, the way it's told, and how the different endings are managed. Like I said before, you don't know whether Torque is guilty of the crimes he's accused of, and you won't know until a few moments before the ending. In fact, the very way you play the game is what determines what actually happened that day at Torque's apartment.

Every time you meet a NPC, he'll ask you to escort him somewhere safe, to run some kind of errand for him, or simply to tag along with his own gun -you know, safety in numbers and all-, and you'll be assaulted by two ghostly voices: One is Carmen's, who tries to convince you to listen to the guy and help him in whatever you can, and the other one is a harsh, crude voice that reeks of pure evil and encourages you to kill the poor bastard. Whether you decide to follow one advice or the other, or to simply pass by and/or let the NPC's to their own devices (Which means that sooner or later they'll get killed by the monsters), you add good, bad, or neutral points that will lead you to one of three endings.

It's really simple, and it works magnificently. You don't have a meter or counter to clearly tell you which path you're threading, but there are a number of visual clues. The most obvious are a photograph of Torque's family which turns more dirty and blood-stained the more you lean to the bad side, and Torque's own appearance, which becomes rather monstrous to the point he ends up having a pale, greenish skin covered in big scars and deep wounds when you're not being a nice fella.

Aside from that, maybe more subtly but definitely much more brilliantly, the storytelling itself changes to accomodate the moral path you choose. At some points it might even pass unnoticed the first few times you play through, but there are several key dialogues throughout the game that actually change depending on whether Torque is or isn't the murderer of his own family (Or the rather twisted third alternative). This way, unlike most open-ended games, it's not only the ending which changes, but the entire story; and it's done in a smart way that doesn't try to sell itself as a fancy, spectacular gimmick, and maybe just because of that it ends up being all the more impressive.

Aside from Torque's own story, and the hints of stories of several secondary characters which you can piece together little by little if you pay attention throughout the game, The Suffering takes a clue from the brilliant Silen Hill 2 and turns Carnate itself (This is, the island where Abbott Penitentiary is located) into a character with its own accursed, ill-fated history full of tragic events, which brings a whole new level to the experience. Carnate is not only a "gameworld", a virtual stage against which to stand up the characters; it has lots of stories that ultimately make you feel like you're in a despair-inducing real place that could just as well be alive: "The evil here has happened in many places. But on Carnate, enough blood has spilled into the soil, that the soil will turn on us."

One thing worth to note is that even though the story is incredibly brutal and disturbing, it's never gratuitous; on the contrary, at some points it actually has an almost poetic quality. This is helped greatly by the many written excerpts/journal notes Torque collects along his way, and (My personal favorites, actually) "Ramse Truman's musings", the texts that illustrate the "loading" screens. Yep, the "loading" screens. For the first time ever, I found myself actually yearning to see another one of those bastards. When a game decorates its "loading" screens with something like "Take away a mans 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." or "Many try to bury the sins of the past. But if you deny them, pretend they never happened, wish them all away, they will come back to the surface a million times stronger.", you can tell these guys are up to something.

Last but definitely not least, we have the main bad guys. The three "villains", so to say: Horace, executed in the electric chair after murdering his wife in a conjugal visit, Hermes, the man in charge of the gas chamber who was so fixated on death that decided to try the gas himself, and Dr. Killjoy, a psychiatrist who used Abbott's inmates for his twisted experiments, most likely the coolest bad guy in history; a man that has a patient eaten alive by a pack of rats because: "Sometimes the problem isn't in the mind, but in the body, and thus the body needs to be removed", and about whom one of his patients says: "Doctor Killjoy made the voices in my head go away. Now all I hear is his voice". Remember the good days of Freddy Krueger, back in the late 80's? Well, there you have it. That is precisely the sort of malevolent, abject and yet impossibly charismatic characters we're dealing with here.

**The Bad**

For a console port, the game is surprisingly stable and relatively bug-free. Yes, you do need a patch to even run it in a non-SSE Microprocessor (This is, anything below 1GHz) and there is a level in which the floor textures disappear for a while and the characters all appear to walk around on thin air, but we've certainly seen worse things.

The one unforgivable bad thing about The Suffering is how bad the game looks. Seriously, I understand not every game can be friggin' Doom III, and I do think there isn't a co-relation between good graphics and an actual good game, but this generosity has to have a limit. The graphics in The Suffering are impossibly ugly and, to make it worst, they could've been excellent, if only they had lived up to their actual design, which is brilliant.

The overall visual impression is that of a game meant to be run at high framerates in a PS2, and that hasn't been any tweaked for the superior capabilities of the Xbox or the PC. Once I really gotten into the game, I didn't think it was that big a deal, but I'm sure it did hurt sales. Like I said, I almost didn't get the blasted game because of the way it looked.

I have one personal complaint, and I know it will sound odd to say the least, but: The loading times are too short! You see, the levels load so fast you hardly have the time to read the texts of the loading screens, and that really bothered me, since those were worth reading; so I had to re-load a level twice or three times until I managed to read the thing. I guess a simple "press any key to begin" once the level is fully loaded would've fixed that.

**The Bottom Line**

I just can't stress it enough, nor say it any more clearer: "Silent Hill 2 meets Max Payne. And, against all odds, it works". That's simply it. You take the smart, multi-layered storytelling and the oppressive atmosphere of Silent Hill 2, you pair it with the tremendously responsive combat interface of Max Payne, and in some odd, bizarre way, they manage to co-exist.

The Suffering has a fine soundtrack that fits perfectly in each scene. It has great voice talents. It has a story that's shockingly crude and violent, but it's told with so much class it ends up feeling somewhat poetic. It has stories upon stories to be learned, strongly backing up the idea of the action taking place in an impossibly ill-fated place that feels real, alive, pulsating; something way beyond a simple "gameworld". It has three possible endings depending on the moral path you decide to thread, and the entire storytelling changes dynamically to accomodate your decisions. It has some of the most disturbingly charismatic bad guys in history.

And to top it all, it's adrenaline-pumpingly fun to play.

Other than the admittedly awful, unoptimized graphics, there's simply nothing not to like in The Suffering.

This is one of my top-5 favorite games of all times. The kind of game I would gladly play 7 times from start to finish. And I would know, because I already did.

In fact, I think I'm gonna go play it again right now.

Windows · by Slug Camargo (583) · 2006

[ View all 5 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
What's your excuse for not playing this NOW? >:( Slug Camargo (583) Nov 26th, 2008


Cancelled Port

A GameCube version was already planned, but was cancelled because previous Midway titles sold poorly on the platform.


The creatures and characters in The Suffering were designed by movie special effects master Stan Winston (designer of the Terminator exoskeleton, the Predator, the Alien Queen and the Jurassic Park dinos). The prison of Abbott State Penitentiary in the game was partially inspired by Alcatraz; Alcatraz was originally a military prison and the prison in the game was built from the remains of a WW2 army base.

German version

There are a number of changes in the German version: * The making of feature and a trailer were removed. * There are no mutilated humans to be found. * Several cutscenes were cut. In some just the blood was removed, a few scenes are completely darkened out. * In the PlayStation 2 version, an instrument of torture was removed from a dead guard. * All swastikas were removed (this applies to every version except US)

A detailed list of changes can be found on (German).


The PC version was released as freeware on September 25, 2008.


Information also contributed by Atomic Punch!, Kabushi and piltdown man.

Related Games

The Suffering: Ties That Bind
Released 2005 on Xbox, PlayStation 2, Windows
The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante
Released 2021 on Windows, 2022 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr: City of Suffering
Released 2018 on Windows, PlayStation 4, 2019 on Xbox One
Shelter 2
Released 2015 on Windows, Macintosh, Tomahawk F1...
Released 2013 on Windows, Macintosh, 2020 on Blacknut
Smite: Battleground of the Gods
Released 2014 on Windows, 2015 on Xbox One, 2019 on Nintendo Switch...
Naraka: Bladepoint
Released 2021 on Windows, 2022 on Xbox Series, Xbox One
Sheltered 2
Released 2021 on Windows

Related Sites +

Identifiers +


Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by ob5idian.

Windows added by Jeanne.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, Indra was here, John Chaser, Patrick Bregger, 64er.

Game added March 21st, 2004. Last modified August 27th, 2023.