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File:The suffering sm 1310.jpg

You think you've got it bad...

"Take away a man's 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."
Ranse Truman

The Suffering is a horror series created in 2004 by Surreal Software, also known for the Drakan games, and published by Midway. The player controls a man named Torque who was accused and convicted of murdering his wife and children in cold blood — the case was quick, as Torque's only defense was that he couldn't remember anything. Thus, Torque gets shipped off to Carnate Island. The days go along swimmingly until Torque moves in.

Then something happens.

First, it was just an earthquake. Then, slowly, Torque's fellow prisoners are killed one by one in increasingly disgusting-sounding ways. A monster whizzes past Torque's cell, which opens slowly, setting him free. And thus, Torque steps forward into the halls of the Abbott Penitentiary, where prison is, quite literally, hell. Along the way, Torque finds himself in the company of an insane doctor with a more-than-professional interest in his condition, a vicious prisoner who killed his wife on a conjugal visit and took the chair, and an executioner with a particular glee in his work and eager to see Torque's blood shed. All three inflict their own unique tortures on him. It's up to the player to decide how to handle all of this: with compassion or with violence.

That is the internal battle, the fight to define Torque's mind. Of more immediate concern are the "Malefactors," the hideous monsters that spring from Carnate's soil and represent all the horror that has occurred on the island. You see, Carnate has a long and storied history with the worst aspects of the human condition. Over the centuries, period-specific sadism has soaked the island's soil with blood. As many have discovered, Carnate has become a manifestation of evil, drawing out of the violence and hatred from all who step foot on the island. And now, Carnate wants Torque to become its newest spokesman.

One perk of the game is its unique brand of horror, effortlessly mixing Psychological Horror with physical horror while keeping the bona-fide badass Torque gunning and running, and never once feeling dissonant about it.

A sequel, The Suffering: Ties That Bind, was released in '06. It picks up with Torque returning to Baltimore and finding out that Malefactors have somehow gotten there too. He has to fight his way through the situation and get to the bottom of it, while simultaneously dealing with the past (specifically, his family's murder).

A film was announced in 2005 and is currently officially slated for a 2011 release, but a drought of information on the project makes this seem unlikely.

Tropes used in The Suffering include:

  • A Storm Is Coming: When you get close to Dr. Killjoy's hideout, rain torrents down in buckets.
  • Accidental Murder: The neutral ending for Torque in the first game.
  • Affably Evil: Blackmore in the second game, Dr. Killjoy in both. Though whether or not Killjoy is evil or just crazy is a matter up to debate...
  • AKA-47: All of the guns are given generic, bland names, until the second game.
  • An Axe to Grind: Torque can find an axe to replace his shiv in the first game. It does three times the damage and knocks down whatever it hits, but swings slower, preventing you from just charging in.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Clem's Journal and Consuela's Diary.
  • Asshole Victim: No matter what moral path you go down, Torque will have to murder many more human beings. Lots of them deserve it.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: The axe in the first game. As long as you can time your first hit right (enemies attack faster than the axe can), its knockdown effect will instantly paralyze anything it hits. Each hits counts as another knockdown, so anything hit by it wouldn't get up if you kept the pressure on. The rat-filled slavers couldn't be knocked down, but the axe would kill them in three strikes anyway. The only things not vulnerable to it are the Infernas (can't be knocked down and on fire), exploding rats (too small and fast), and bosses.
  • Ax Crazy: Numerous inmates and Correction Officers turn out to be this once all Hell breaks loose. Torque can turn out to be this as well, if you go down the Evil ending path.
    • If you go down the neutral path in the first game, this happens with Torque's eldest son.
  • Badass: Somewhere between Jack Caiman and Kratos you will behold Torque, standing resplendent on a mountain of hideous corpses, and still blasting through hordes of unyielding horrors from beyond your imagination, baptising himself in oceans of their blood. And that's when he hasn't lost his temper...
  • Badass Abnormal: Notably reversed. In the first game, Torque spends half the narrative trying to rein in and control his emerging monstrous superpowers, despite the fact that they are his greatest advantage against the Malefactors. You know, apart from the obvious...
  • Badass Normal: Any one of the Correctional Officers who manage to kill some of the Malefactors. There are a few of them who do.
  • Bald Black Leader Guy: Blackmore is bald. Blackmore is black (not ebony black, but definitely not white either). Blackmore is essentially the leader guy of crime in Baltimore (and who knows what else). However, it turns out that Blackmore is a personality that exists only in Torque's head. Torque is certainly not bald. In fact, a picture of Blackmore from Jordan's point of view shows Torque wearing a cowboy hat. Interestingly enough, the first game had a cut-out prologue that showed Torque wearing a cowboy hat, which falls off when he turns into a monster. He does not put it back on. Is this Fridge Brilliance or what?
  • Bloody Murder: Don't step in the Mainliner pools after they die. Trust us.
  • Boring Yet Practical: In the first game, your trusty shiv (and later axe) will not only kill most enemies fairly easily, but stun them so as to prevent reprisal while you're doing it. Even on the hardest difficulty, they still serve as the most efficient way to deal with at least half of the monsters. (Anything that can shoot back, unless it's alone, should be responded to in kind.)
  • Body Horror: The monsters were designed by the grand master himself, Stan Winston, and represent facets of human malignancy. Expect sickness.
  • Breath Weapon: It's implied Hermes now breathes his poisonous gas. His voice actor also inhales and exhales deeply as part of his Creepy Monotone.
  • Buried Alive: The origin of the Burrowers.
  • Call a Rabbit a Smeerp: All of the demons and monsters are given the official name of "Malefactors". Several prisoners have their own theories as to what they really are, though, and they appear organic when the Foundation begins to study them.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: An incredibly dark version is in the second game, with a teenager drugged out of his mind following you half-naked and shivering, begging you (who he thinks is his father, in his overdose-laden delusions) to protect him and help him to safety.
  • Combat Tentacles: The Burrowers use their chains in this manner. The Creeper has a particularly disturbing version - they're impaled through the victims of his crimes.
  • Creepy Child: The Infernas, little girls who burst into flame and attack you if you get too close.
    • Potential addition; in Ties that Bind, there is a point in the game where a woman is trying to get to her baby, whom you can hear crying and presume to be under the white sheet in the living room. Turns out when you do finally check it out, the baby actually isn't there...
  • Deadly Gas: Hermes preferred the gas chamber, died by the gas chamber, and thus came back as a being of gas. Lampshades and justifies the green color in a single swoop by saying that he intentionally colored the gas so that people can see it coming.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: If you try to get on Clem's raft without him, he laughs as the raft bursts into flames, injuring you.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Torque was barefoot in the first game, having taken off his shoes shortly after entering his cell.
  • Enemy Within: Torque can transform into a Malefactor himself to utterly tear things to shreds. If you're good, it's just Torque on an adrenaline rush. If you're neutral or bad, it's ambiguous if you actually change. In the second game, the Big Bad of it all turns out to be Blackmore, a split personality.
    • It's theorized that the monstrosities that appear are basically this to an entire city.
  • Enemy Without: The final boss of the first game. As well, for his boss fight, Dr. Killjoy creates more direct external replicas of the above-mentioned Enemy Within.
  • Epileptic Trees: In-universe: Nobody knows for sure what causes the disaster, but there sure are a hell of a lot of people theorizing about it. Prisoners blame the guards, guards blame the prisoners, maybe it's magic, maybe it's the end of the world, maybe it's the result of hallucinogens being released, maybe it's all in some way related to Torque himself (just as hell breaks loose, a voice does say "been waiting for you" as he arrives), maybe it's all in Torque's mind — and we never find out for sure.
  • Escort Mission: Several in each game, but all are entirely optional. When you meet up with a fellow survivor, you can either help them fight through the monsters to a "safe" location where they can escape/hide, kill them yourself, or just ignore them and let the monsters eat them. Most are actually rather tough and can hold their own in a fight if you lend a hand, but some (particularly the unarmed junkie and the Warden's son in the second game) have a tendency to die fairly quickly unless you're really good at protecting them.
    • There's two really annoying ones in the first game. Torque's friend from another prison has to be carried over several areas, including a huge choke point with lots of enemies in close quarters. The guard in the final stretch is also hard to do, since there's plenty of enemies and the deadly Infernas.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Pretty much Carnate at the end of the first game, aside from about one or two people.
  • Evil Is Easy: Technically, apathy is the easiest path. It's a lot easier to let your companions die in battle without meaning to. Evil is second, since sometimes it might seem worthwhile to just kill your companions rather than waste time covering for them. Good is by far the hardest, because your companions, though fairly competent fighters, simply aren't up to the challenge of surviving.
  • Expy: Horace Gauge is a more morally sound version of Horace Pinker.
    • Joining Horace is Dr. Killjoy, who may or may not be related to Vincent Price.
  • Fridge Brilliance: In 'Ties That Bind,' the Creeper was (in life) a serial killer and pimp who would murder women, mostly prostitutes. He displays massive misogynistic tendencies, as well as an intense mistrust for women, and will encourage Torque to do the same. And if you're playing on the Good side of things, Jordan betrays you, leaving the player with the possibility that the Creeper's twisted advice was actually useful.
    • If you read Ranse Truman's note during the load screen of "Lifetime Companion" and then finish your playthrough under Evil morality, you will realize what Ranse meant in his writing...
  • Genius Loci: Both Carnate Island and Baltimore have gathered a LOT of bitterness and anger over the years of their existence.
    • It's implied that any place that has enough evil in its past can become this sort of malevolent Genius Loci, and begin spawning Malefactors representing the sins that brought it to this state. It's further implied that everywhere actually has enough evil for this — you just have to look to discover it.
      • One document in the second game reveals that Malefactors have been seen in a few other places, and records of them go back decades.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: A variation is used. In the first game, when Torque is faced with a moral decision at some points, his wife Carmen acts as the shoulder angel and Torque's evil side acts as the shoulder devil. The sequel has Carmen act as the shoulder angel and Blackmore act as the shoulder devil. In both games, they do not actually appear at Torque's side at these points, but their voices can be heard.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The surviving Corrections Officers that you meet are much ruder to you than the surviving convicts. This may be because you may have killed your wife and kids.
  • Gorn: There is no tasteful way to describe this. Let's say that when someone gets killed, a good portion of a nearby wall will be covered in blood.
  • Guns Akimbo: Lampshaded. The manual mentions that while doing this may look cool, it makes you less accurate. That said, some things are big enough that you don't need good aim.
  • Heroic BSOD: One of the guards in the first game reverts to a childlike state due to the horrors around him. In the second game, in a mook version of this, a few of The Foundation's troops are in obvious PTSD.
  • Heroic Mime: Torque. Interestingly, an early trailer had him speaking, and he does have several lines of dialog in the second game, but he still remains a fairly silent dude.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The Mainliners use lethal injection syringes to attack, throwing it at a distance or stabbing it directly into the neck.
  • Infant Immortality: Most assuredly averted to great horrific effect. The murder of two children is a crucial backstory event that colours all the events in the series. Also, the Infernas in the first game are ghosts who represent the petty cruelty children can commit, and have to be slain in order to progress (although thankfully not while in their ghostly Undead Child form). In the second game, there is a sequence involving a baby mentioned below, which is in some ways the most unsettling part of the game.
  • Institutional Apparel: Just about every prisoner except Torque is in an orange jumpsuit with white tees underneath. Torque has orange pants and a white wife-beater.
  • Ironic Hell: Some Malefactors are grotesque undead Ironic Hells for the individuals that committed the sins that spawned them. Others embody broader concepts and don't seem to be anyone in particular.
  • Karma Meter: Torque always carries a photograph of his family with him. How filthy or clean the photograph is serves as your guide on whether or not you actually killed them.
    • Torque's own jump suit and general hygene level change depending on how good or how evil he is — it's a bit grungy starting out, it's filthy and he's covered in open sores when you're pure evil, he looks just fine and recently-washed when pure good. There's also an undocumented bonus to good and evil — when you're pure good, health packs heal you more (and heal much less when you're evil), but conversely, you can berserk more when evil.
    • It's easy to miss from time to time, but character comments and even hallucinations change depending on your current alignment as early as the first half-hour of the game. The second game has a moment where it reviews every single person you've either helped, hurt, or abandoned.
      • The second game allows you to choose from which of the three endings the original The Suffering you finished at to choose as a starting point. Interestingly, how you begin the second game has repercussions as late as the final boss and who is or is not with you at that time.
  • Knight Templar: Hargrave in the first game. He considers everything that's happening around him as the sign of the endtimes, and that he is a beacon of justice to pass judgment upon all prisoners.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In the second game, Killjoy points out how all of Torque's doubts about his past are back after supposedly being resolved in the first game, and says that it seems like a retread of a box office favorite.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Torque can't remember what happened on the night his family was murdered. Also, it turns out that every time Torque goes monstrous, he has no recollection of what happens.
  • Left Hanging: Dr. Killjoy reveals near the end of the second game that he knew Torque's mother, but this isn't followed up on. It's also implied that there's something special about Ranse Truman, but we don't find out what.
    • Ranse Truman may have the same abilities Torque has. He did say that he was handling the first couple waves of monsters sent at him just fine, but he would not have won against the last wave without taking extreme measures. Hmm....
  • Mad Doctor: Dr. Killjoy has an absolutely abysmal patient survival rate, and has... questionable... methods at his disposal. Subverted, however, in that Killjoy has only your best interests at heart and genuinely wants you to be cured. He even scolds you if you make evil decisions.
  • Man Child: Luther in the first game. The Malefactors and their effect on Carnate have taken a traumatic toll on him.
  • Mercy Kill: You have the option to do this once in the first game. Doing so nets you good points on the Karma Meter.
    • Same with the second game, but the guy you'd do it to ends up dying anyway when a boss comes out of a nearby hole, knocking a large crate into the area where he was sitting.
  • Monster Misogyny: The Creeper in the second game is the incarnation of a pimp who abused, murdered, raped, and did all sorts of unspeakable things to his whores. One of his lines was: "Blood makes the best lubricant."
  • Multiple Choice Past: Your actions in the game determine whether Torque really was innocent or not.
  • Multiple Endings: Depending on whether you were a sinner, a saint, or somewhere in between, the truth behind the death of Torque's family changes.
    • It even zigzags for each variant. Ended the first game neutral, ended the second game good? Your son was pumped up on drugs given to him by Blackmore, and you DID accidentally kill your wife, as opposed to the "normal" neutral ending, in which Torque's abuse of his son caused him to commit murder-suicide and he beat his wife to death in anger. And so on.
  • Mundanger: In the first game, the good ending has Torque framed by a Government Conspiracy. The evil ending has him apparently being manipulated by the same supernatural evil he finds in Carnate. The neutral one? Torque accidentally killed his wife, and his elder son finds out, intentionally drowning his little brother before committing suicide.
  • Murderer POV: Deconstructed Trope. At the end of the game, depending on your ending, Torque gets flashes of memory detailing how the murder exactly happened and why.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Dr. Killjoy.
  • No Canon for the Wicked: All three endings from the first game lead into the second one (with effects as late as the final bossfight), but if you don't have an Old Save Bonus and haven't beaten the game at least once, you can only start where the neutral ending left off.
  • No Cure for Evil: The more evil Torque is in the first game, the less healing pills work on him (conversely, he's able to berserk more).
  • No Fair Cheating: Using cheats will result in a significant increase in random flashes of horrific images and sound.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: The Gorger in the second game is inspired by this. A priest running a soup and meat kitchen finds himself woefully low on supplies. Rather than let his flock starve, he commits himself to make do with the meat available.
  • Not So Different: Numerous other characters compare Torque to themselves, and vice-versa. Depending on your moral path, they may be right.
  • Offing the Offspring: What Torque is accused of, along with murdering his wife.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Where Torque grew up. What exactly his experiences were is never stated, but they're implied to be pretty horrible.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Noosemen rip themselves out of the ceiling to throttle you at the most inopportune times.
  • Power Incontinence: One possible interpretation of the game's events is that Torque is creating the Malefactors himself. See WMG for more.
  • Prison: The setting of the first game — the entire island of Carnate is a prison.
  • Prison Rape: Surprisingly (but thankfully) averted. Despite the pitch-black atmosphere of the series and their portrayal of the horrors of urban society, rape has gone absolutely untouched. In fact, the only sexual situation glossed over at all is Horace murdering his wife after he has sex with her.
    • In the first game, there's a shower room where you can notice a bar of soap on the floor... With some blood.
  • Projected Man: Dr. Killjoy takes the form of a ghost brought to life by a film projector, and there are lots of handy film projectors everywhere.
  • Psycho Electro: It's saying something that Horace is actually one of the most (sorta) balanced characters on the cast.
    • One of the demons that manifest in the Baltimore prison is this.
  • Psychological Torment Zone
  • Puzzle Boss: Every boss in the first game, besides the first part of the final boss fight, is a puzzle of some kind.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Every single enemy in the game is representative of a method of execution or an urban horror/vice. For example — the Slayer represents the Guillotine/Axe executions, and in Baltimore, it represents all those shankings and axe murders...
  • Sequel Hook: The good ending of the first game had Torque being told by a thug that his family's death was ordered by "The Colonel." We find out about the Colonel (Blackmoore) in the second game.
  • Seven Dirty Words: Uses all seven of them at the drop of a hat, and yet never in a way that seems unnatural. After all, when you've seen syringes shoved through someone's eyes, what's so bad about a naughty word or two?
  • Shock and Awe: Horace's method of execution was the electric chair, and thus has the powers of electricity as a ghost. Though these are mostly confined to simply causing some fireworks and travelling around in power boxes, later in the game Horace blows open a latched-shut cell door with his electricity.
  • Shout-Out: Usually, picking up a phone when it's not ringing does nothing. If you happen to pick up one phone late in the game, though, a girl informs you that you will die in seven days.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Malcolm is older in the second game than he was in the first.
  • Sophisticated As Hell: One of the prisoners who you have to escort in the 1st game, the one in the bright yellow jumpsuit who keeps saying that the Malefactors are caused by a Government Conspiracy. He's just as sweary as everybody else on Carnate, but he's also read Mary Shelley.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Clem in the first game. Not only did he write documents on all the Malefactors, but you can tell from the get-go he's a right-up smarty-pants. "Feast upon petroleum, troglodyte!"
  • Split Personality: A very important plot point in the second game. Turns out all of the Malefactor-transforming that Torque's been doing is actually his second personality, Blackmore, coming to the forefront. And Blackmore is verrrry hungry for more killin'.
  • Strange Bedfellows: Twice in the first game, once in the second. In the first, COs team up with the prisoner Torque in order to fight their way out through a part of the level. In the second, Jordan of the Foundation teams up with Torque when the Malefactors REALLY get thick. Except she still wants to kill you. Whoops.
    • If you've been going the Evil route, she does genuinely team up with you. But if you don't end up killing her she gets captured by The Creeper and you get good karma.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Torque never speaks in the first game, but gains a few spoken lines in the sequel.
  • Survival Horror: Very much so, although its action elements are strong too, making for a highly cathartic gameplay experience.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The Slayers bear strong resemblance to the Cenobites from Hellraiser, and the Mainliners aren't far behind them.
  • The Alcatraz: Carnate Prison is genuinely inescapable. Then the Malefactors show up...
  • The Killer Becomes the Killed: Hermes is a very interesting take on this. As a prison executioner, he made an entire career murdering people in different ways, but he stated that, out of all the psychopaths who applied for the job, he was the only one focused enough to get it. In fact, he was so focused that he gassed himself in the chamber, just to have knowledge of both sides of the "experience".
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: To put it bluntly, Torque is not a well man. When you consider that just about everything in both games is shown through Torque's point of view, as well as the revelations made in both of them... this is where Fridge Horror gets cued.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Expecting Torque to open a locker like a mere mortal? Pah! He stands aside the door and taps it with his gunhand, causing it to bounce open before him.
    • He does not flush the toilet like a mere mortal either. He uses his foot to flush the toilet! [1]
    • He takes off his shoes in the first game, and does not put them back on. That's right, he goes through the whole game barefoot! Now how exactly did he end up with shoes on in the sequel is another story...
  • What You Are in the Dark: Invoked directly by Hermes when trying to provoke Torque's Insanity transformation.
  • White Shirt of Death: Torque's wife-beater gets completely saturated in blood. Rarely his own. It even spontanously cleans itself after a half-minute of non-violence. Which is rare.
  • Who Forgot the Lights?: It's kind enough to let you set the brightness yourself. But since it's a horror game, it shows you a static image and tells you to make it just barely visible. The end result is dim, eerie lighting, perfect for a fright.
  • Worm Sign: indicates a Burrower is going to dig up out of the ground and sling chains at you.
  • Worthy Opponent: An interesting variation. Copperfield in the second game is the ghost of a slave catcher, and as Torque's ancestors were slaves, Copperfield continues to hunt Torque down. He seems rather pleased that Torque puts up such a struggle, and even compliments him on his actions and fighting style sometimes.


 There's a difference between those that feel safest in the light, and those that feel safest in the dark. Which are you, Torque?


  1. Of course, anyone in a public bathroom should and probably does do this to avoid touching it.