Top 100 Games of All-Time: #98

The Suffering

Release Date: March 8, 2004

Platform Played On: PS2

2018 Placement: #88 (-10)


What It Is:

Torque is a death row inmate accused of murdering his wife and two children, although he can’t remember the action and says he blacked out. Then while he’s in prison a bunch of supernatural horror scary things start murdering all the other inmates and Torque decides to kill them right back and maybe also escape while figuring out what actually happened to his family.

It’s a pretty standard survival horror game, but slightly more run-and-gun action-oriented (think Resident Evil 6 not Resident Evil 2). Enemies are creatures based around prisoner executions, including burrowing enemies that represent being buried alive (I hated those fuckers the most). There’s a fairly basic morality system (by today’s standards) in play as well that will affect the ending you get, but for 2004 the added choices on whether to be completely evil or not were a neat addition. You also get to rage out and become a monster every now and then to completely decimate the enemies attacking you, giving you a sense of strength over helplessness that is sometimes missing in horror games.

Why It’s Important To Me:

Do you know that one game you’ve played that you feel like you have to champion for? Because you personally feel like if you don’t keep talking about it, the game itself will fade away into oblivion and the collective unconscious will completely forget about it? That’s this game for me. I’m not a big horror gamer so this action-based horror game was much more up my alley than anything else and it’s stuck with me to the point that I feel I must ring the bell on it so people will remember it exists, even if it’s just a “Oh hey, yeah I remember that! Wow!”

I mean, I know games like Resident Evil 4 and Silent Hill 2 and others are objectively better games by a wide margin on most units of measurement. And yeah maybe on every other top 100 games list those would be argued for instead of The Suffering. But while everyone else was playing those games, I was playing this one and it was fun. And that’s what matters for a game, yeah?

My Strongest Memory:

The intro of the game was creepy as hell. There’s an earthquake, the lights go out, and then inmates start being pulled off-screen while screaming bloody murder. As you move around the prison you see guards and inmates mutilated and killed in front of you in various horrifying ways, but without getting a clear look at the monsters plaguing the facility. It’s also combat-less for the majority of the beginning so it just ratchets up the tension until you finally start fighting the creatures.

It’s a really well-done opening that might be stock schlock in the horror game element nowadays, but when I played it for the first time back in the day it was vivid enough that it stuck with me.

Why It’s #98:

Like I said above, there are plenty of games just within the horror genre that are objectively better than The Suffering. And then outside the genre there are waaaaay more. But this isn’t objective, this is my subjective list. While I don’t feel strongly enough about it to throw it really high on the list, it’s important enough to me to get a place right here because I feel like it’s not going to show up on many lists that aren’t mine. I’ve gotta do right by it.