The Suffering – The Carnate Island Redemption [RETRO – 2004]

RETRO – Imagine the situation: you have nothing to lose since you slaughtered your wife and child, but you do not remember any of it. You would wait for the end in the prison walls, but suddenly all hell breaks lose: otherworldly monsters kill the guards. Will you be able to escape, or will you end up as the same? This backstory provides the atmosphere to the game for those who have the nerve to play it.


According to documentaries about Alcatraz, and other such correctional facilities were hell for those people that were sent to them. The guards did not only beat the inmates, but cruelty was common among the inmates. After the great Drakan video game, and the mediocre Lord of the Ring: Fellowship of the Ring, Surreal Software is now back with their latest creation a Horror TPS. The prison itself is a scary location, but we will be sweating when we see the first monsters.

The Suffering is a true Horror TPS/FPS, where we mow through monsters with pickaxe, guns, and other heavy weapons

Bloody Redemption

Our hero Torque (luckily has nothing to do with that horrible motorbike action movie), according to his case file, he murdered his family, but he does not remember it. He sits in his cell broken and silent where he is waiting for the execution, however, events take a different turn.

In the neighbouring cells, horrifying sounds are heard, and the inmates get slaughtered while the guards are hung up one by one. The man has two options: either wait for death or become free and leave the cell to combat his fears/nightmares which are monsters and ghosts. As Torque we choose freedom. The game is filled with lore and background information including gruesome executions, innocents being killed, and the horrific murders by young witches. The other half of the lore is, of course, the supposed slaughtered of his family – these parts of the story appear as a form of hallucinations

The story’s twists, the main bosses, and the gameworld’s visuals remind us of such movies as The Shining, The House on The Haunted Hill, The Ring – or since we are talking about Prisons here mostly Shawshank Redemption. At the same time, the developers did admit that they wanted to distance themselves from protagonist from generic horror movies, and Silent Hill games.

Where the protagonist is fragile, instead they opted for a more action hero type protagonist (Although we do not get to know too much of his state of mind as he does not speak for the entire game). Though still, you can just see on his face that if anyone he can survive this mess.

Gunsmoke, and metamorphosis

The developers had a reason to create such a macho protagonist, as based on the location, and on the lore, many would associate Silent Hill or Resident Evil, but The Suffering is entirely something else regarding gameplay. The monsters do not attack our character with Japanese horror game slowness: some attack us with lightning fast slashes or they jump on us from the ceiling.

Others will try to shoot us with guns, or fire syringes from their body to position our character. This game is pure action, and require perfect reflexes: it is like a Max Payne game imbued with horror elements, although in The Suffering luckily the bullet time system has been left out from the game.

Another interesting feature is that we do not only shoot enemies, but Torque can step over the edge of insanity (the yellow bar that gets filled up). He becomes a hulking monster that can slaughter enemies quickly ( A hulking giant monster that is disgusting, deadly, and has many sharp claws. Good contest for prettiest monsters in this game). This metamorphosis is only good however on the hard difficulty, as on normal you can take out enemies with a pistol and a gun as we are accurate, and ammo is plenty.

„In the dark” – but not „alone.”

The game takes place on Carnate Island, the prison complex, and the surrounding buildings, yet it still creates a varied world – not just a linear generic action game. A lot of locations are made more atmospheric with the notes by Consuela one of the guard’s wife. These notes describe the local history, the maps. Another important NPC is Clem an old inmate who has a bestiary of the main bosses, and minor enemies, plus ghosts.

We will meet Clemm, and Consuela’s husband and other NPCs that help our hero. Companions that join us are not just useful, but real lifesavers in the game. The prison guards will always cuss, and will not care about Torque too much, but later they will respect him. The inmates will consider him a God after surviving many encounters.

The neat idea is that we can decide if we end their life with a bullet, or be a philanthropist and let them join us. Our inner voices will try to convince us to choose one or the other. A deep grim voice will ask us to („KIIIIiilll Hiiiimmm!”), while a soft voice of a lady will ask us to be more merciful. This morality play is not just for show, as these determine the game’s final ending, and there is a total of three endings.

Worse of the worse?

The developers did a great job with the detail of the boss, and minor monsters: they are not just scary in look but fit into the Island’s and the Prison compound’s life and history. All of the monsters are the personification of their suffering (that were sometimes innocent inmates) plus they have notes by Consuela, and meeting them is always intense.

The developer solved the technical limitations through various corner cuttings. Torque, for example, has all sorts of red and greenish movie-like visions about his family’s murder, or about the history of the island.

These images connect neatly to the reality: executed inmates become nightmarish fiends that attack our hero, we will just meet a victim of a horrific murder in the form of a rotten corpse.We have to mention the effects during the „bloodbaths,” as every melee combat will result in heaps of blood pouring onto our hero. At the end of it all, it will seem like our hero just got out of a bath full of blood.

Almost famous

When we tally up the score, in the end, we can talk about a modern game, but sadly there are a few issues. A better graphics engine and prettier graphics would have made this game a real classic that would have been mentioned next to Far Cry, or Painkiller as the story, the lore,  and the monster’s design pretty much beats the two previous games. The game even has a few puzzle sections, so it is not only a simple bloodbath game, so we can consider it a horror themed action adventure game. Anyone who likes the genre, and can look past the dated graphics, as it would be a cardinal sin not to try out The Suffering – and after that, there wouldn’t be any stopping anyhow.



+ Excellent ambiance
+ Awesome level design and structure
+ Varied gameplay, and not just constant killing monsters


– Dated graphics
– The AI is not that great…
– …and is also buggy

Publisher: Midway Games

Developer: Surreal Software

Genre: FPS/TPS

Megjelenés: 2004

The Suffering

Gameplay - 9
Graphics (2004) - 8
Story - 8.5
Music/Audio - 9
Ambiance - 9.5



Great ambiance, neat lore, frightening monsters that are well detailed. The great action sequences are sprinkled with interesting ideas, and puzzle sections. Unfortunately, the graphics are not up to par with modern standards.

User Rating: 4.45 ( 1 votes)

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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