The Suffering: Ties That Bind
|The Suffering: Ties that Bind|
North American cover art
|Designer(s)||Richard Rouse III (Creative Director and Writer)
Andre Maguire (Lead Designer)
Todd Clineschmidt (Lead Systems Designer)
Ben Coleman (Lead Level Designer)
Stan Winston (Monster Designer)
|Composer(s)||Erik Aho and Boyd Post|
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2, Xbox
The Suffering: Ties That Bind is a psychological horror video game, developed by Surreal Software and published by Midway Games, released in 2005 for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 game consoles as well as the PC. The Xbox version of the game is not supported by the Xbox 360's backwards compatibility feature.
It is the sequel to The Suffering, and picks up after the ending of that game. Players who have a game save of the different endings of The Suffering can decide with which morality to start with, starting with a different morality changes the dialogue and intro of the game. Contrary to the box image on the official site, only the original game has been released as freeware by the United States Air Force.
Ties That Bind features a number of gameplay changes from the original The Suffering. The player can no longer carry around xombium bottles to refill their health whenever they need to, and instead must rely on stationary pickups located throughout the level. When critically injured, the player may also heal a very small percentage of their health by hiding from the immediate battle to recover. The player is also now limited to only carrying two weapons at a time, which now adds a sense of strategy to the gameplay.
Unlike the first game, the player's choices determine the attacks as well as the appearance that Torque's monster form can use. As the morality status moves in either direction, Torque's monster form will gain new attacks depending on the direction. Some special attacks will take on traits of some of the Malefactors, such as by summoning the hooked chains of the Burrowers, the electrical attacks of the Isolationists, or the limb-mounted guns of the Triggermen. The game starts with Neutral morality, but the morality will change depending on the player's actions. Successfully protecting others and keeping them alive shifts the morality scale towards good. Killing non-combatants, killing animals, desecrating corpses and choosing to let innocents die earns evil morality. Neutrality is also an option, since it involves not getting directly involved with anyone and leaving them to their own fate (those who do not directly die by Torque's hands will not be counted against you).
When the game has been completed, the morality level will determine what ending is shown. It will also change Torque's appearance in the game. With a good alignment Torque remains clean and healthy looking (save for enemy blood spatter). Neutral makes him look a little dirty, and an evil alignment causes his skin to become greyish and covered with open sores, while his eyes give a sinister glow.
When the game has been completed at least once, the player are given the option of replaying again and choosing the initial moral alignment at the beginning.
Torque is rescued from Carnate Island by a Coast Guard member, but when the two of them reach Baltimore they are intercepted and captured by soldiers from the Foundation. With a Good Morality, Torque's transformation will appear closer to a Hulk-like version of himself with a blue tinge and a cleanly bladed arm. In this story branch, Torque's family has been murdered by Blackmore's goons after Torque refused to continue working for Blackmore. In the end, Torque will kill Blackmore and erase this personality from his mind. Carmen's ghost thanks Torque for walking the right path and will hug Torque. If the player starts the game as good, by either loading a saved game from the first Suffering or selecting good at the beginning of the game after another play through; it will be revealed that Blackmore had not intended for his men to kill Torque's family; only scare them.
In Neutral Morality, Torque's transformed state will be more like the monster form he took in the first Suffering, with a slight upgrade in appearance: slight head spikes, a normal hand instead of a talon/claw, and, like all of the TTB beast forms, the blade has been moved to the right arm instead of the left arm. In this story branch, Torque accidentally killed Carmen, which led to his older son Cory killing his little brother Malcolm and then himself. Cory does this all under Blackmore's influence, and in revenge for Torque beating him all the time. In the end, neither Blackmore nor Torque are able to get rid of each other, and their suffering shall continue.
Instead of trying to leave Carnate, Torque instead runs deeper into the island under the influence of his dementia. He blacks out, and (after being berated by Dr. Killjoy) wakes up to find himself being captured by Foundation soldiers exploring the island. Evil Morality turns Torque into a red-tinged demonic version of himself with horns, a leathery hide and a jagged-bladed arm. In this story branch, Torque, likely possessed by Blackmore, murdered his family members with his own hands. In the end, Blackmore's personality will dominate Torque's body. After this, it is revealed that Jordan and Blackmore have agreed upon a pact to destroy Torque's personality completely.
The game begins by revisiting Torque's stay in the Eastern Baltimore Correctional prison five years prior to the events of the first game, in which he and Miles are confronted by Blackmore, the man who orchestrated the events leading to their imprisonment, and several of his cohorts. As Torque and Miles are about to be attacked, a prison riot ensues, which leads Torque to discover that many of the creatures he encounters on Carnate five years later are attacking here as well.
Five years afterward in the present day, Torque escapes Carnate Island, the site of his imprisonment, and attempts to return to his home city of Baltimore, only to be captured by a mysterious paramilitary organization known as the Foundation. The apparent leader of the Foundation is a woman named Jordan, who wants to study Torque and his connection to the malefactors, the creatures that appeared when he was sent to Carnate. Torque manages to escape from his captors and is prompted by the ghost of his dead wife Carmen to return to his apartment and investigate the death of his family, where he learns that a powerful crime lord by the name of Blackmore (for whom Torque worked) is ultimately responsible for their deaths. Much to his shock, however, it seems that the horrible Malefactors that had brought Carnate to ruin followed him to the mainland to continue their spree of murder and chaos, feeding upon the dark and ancient history of the city to grow strong. Torque makes his way through the city under the questionable guidance of Dr. Killjoy, who wants to help Torque understand his mental state and his past.
At the very end of the game it is discovered that Blackmore is actually one of Torque's alternate personalities, which surfaced when he was a child living in an orphanage called The Garvey Children's Home because of violent acts upon him (as learned from the "archives"). There are three possible endings depending on the morality of the player at the end of the game: Torque is completely overcome by Blackmore, who takes total control of Torque's personality (Evil); Torque and Blackmore are unable to overpower each other and remain in their current state of opposition (Neutral); Torque eliminates Blackmore's presence from his mind once and for all (Good).
The player's morality also affects certain sequences during gameplay and a level near the end of the game, where Dr. Killjoy, the slavehunter Copperfield, and the vile killer pimp Creeper forge a tribunal and look back on Torque's actions, and also decides whether the player will face Copperfield or the Creeper in the sub-boss battle.
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