The Suffering: Ties That Bind is a bloody, ultra-violent shooter with lots of ugly monsters that come together for one explosive, beautiful game. It’s easy to get lost in the visuals and the ammo-draining combat. Survival/horror? More like horror hunter! You’ll attack these monsters in ways that Chris Redfield could only dream of.
Before I take you deeper into this dark and scary world, I must talk about the game’s most interesting, most exciting, and most disturbing feature: its story.
Just when you think it’s safe to walk the streets alone at night, the image of a murder scene flashes on the screen. Demons start to surface; escaped prison inmates get slaughtered. It isn’t too pretty of a picture until you acquire your first weapon. Then the fun begins. With first- and third-person views available, players can have the kind of gameplay experience they personally desire. Ties That Bind is exciting and gory regardless of the view you choose (check out the bloodstains in first-person view – amazing detail!).
Nightmare Creatures was the first game that came to mind, but BloodRayne would be a better comparison. Both BloodRayne and The Suffering have a thing for bloodstains. Gruesome elements like blood-soaked weapons (and clothes and skin – anything a dead creature’s fluids come in contact with) and mutated creatures will make most gamers cringe.
This game wouldn’t have made it without great acting. No game’s story can influence gameplay, but it is a huge part of the Ties That Bind experience. Surreal and Midway came through for us, hiring the multi-talented Michael Clarke Duncan to voice Blackmore. His performance is as good as any movie he’s done, proving that with the right actor(s) and the right audio directors, video games can tell a story that’s as good or better than movies and TV.
The music and sound effects are also worth noting. The standard music tracks are quiet and add a subtle eeriness to the game. Meanwhile, a sound effect as simple as a thumping machine is used to get the player’s heart pounding. Just as the battles heat up the soundtrack does a one-eighty and starts driving the game with a louder and more intense theme.
Like taking candy from a baby…if the baby had swords coming out of its arms and a thousand demons to protect it. The Suffering: Ties That Bind appears to be just another entertaining shooter. “I’ll beat this in no time,” you say to yourself 30 minutes in. Ninety minutes later you’re proven wrong. Ammo seems more significant, and you’re wishing there was a cheat code for unlimited health.
(For all I know there could be one, but I haven’t discovered it.)
What a story! And what a unique way of telling it. Images are flashed and shown in slow motion to tell the dark story that Torque wishes he could forget. It’s a confusing, mind-bending experience that’ll have Hollywood thinking, “Now wait a minute, why didn’t we think of that!?” With a proposed movie based on The Suffering storyline, one lucky director could get the chance to take it one step further.
Satisfying survival/horror gameplay with a first/third-person shooter twist. Ties That Bind has one of the most disturbing storylines I have ever seen in a game. It’s told very well, but if I were to watch Court TV before or after playing it, the game would probably give me nightmares. Some parts are a little too real. The demons could be viewed as a sign of guilt as if Torque is fighting the pain he feels inside. Tidbits of it reminded me of White Noise, which wasn’t very good but was pretty disturbing. I can’t think of too many games – especially an action game – that made me stop playing to contemplate the story.