The Suffering was a big hit for Midway last year so it should be no surprise that we already have a sequel. Ties That Bind closely follows the action horror blueprint created by the original so the foundation is solid, but it is hard to shake the feeling that you have done all of this before. It is still a fun game that horror fans will enjoy, but it seems to be a step or two behind the best of both the survival horror and third person shooter genres it so desperately wants to emulate.
The story in The Suffering followed a man named Torque that was convicted of murdering his family who is sitting on death row at Abbott Penitentiary. The prison is invaded by demons and other spooks and Torque uncovers a sinister plot of conspiracies and evil experiments. All of the mysterious mumbo jumbo and conspiracy tied into the murder of his family and as you made different moral choices as you played through the game you would emerge as either a ruthless killer or an innocent man that was wrongly convicted.
The Suffering: Ties That Bind picks up right at the end of the first game as Torque is escaping the island prison on a boat. He winds up in Baltimore where he thinks that all is safe, but the demons and conspiracies have followed him to the mainland. The game follows Torque as he tries to find the root of this evil and answer many of the questions raised by the first game. Once again, the choices you make determine the outcome, so choose wisely.
The gameplay in Ties That Bind is more straight up action than youll find in a typical survival horror game and you spend much more time blasting away at demons than solving puzzles. It is at its core a third-person-shooter and youll find all sorts of guns as well as a number of melee weapons but you can only carry two at a time which adds a strategic element to the game. An additional offensive tactic is that you can turn into a powerful beast when your sanity meter is full. The creature can mow through most of the enemies in the game, but its use is limited. A nice touch is that the moral decisions you make in the game affect your creature form by changing its look and attacks a little bit.
All in all, the gameplay is solid, but if you have played The Suffering you have pretty much done all of this before. The core combat is identical to the last game and, as fun as killing demons is, it does get old after a while. Also, the game is fairly linear and usually the first unlocked door you come to is the correct path. This makes the game boil down into a pattern of enter a new room, kill everything, move to the next room, kill everything, etc., which is fun the first ten times but not so much in a 15-20 hour game.
Graphics and Sound
Graphically, The Suffering: Ties That Bind is a nice looking game. The environments you explore are surprisingly sharp and detailed and the characters and demons look great. This is a very bloody game and there are lots of effects such as monsters blowing into chunks when you shoot them with a shotgun that are just really satisfying. A great effect is that as you kill monsters and blood is spewing everywhere, it actually accumulates on your character which is just really, really cool.
The sound is also very good in Ties That Bind and this is where most of the horror comes from in this action horror game. The game is filled with creepy sound effects and sudden noises and youll constantly hear whispers and voices as you wander the back streets of Baltimore. There is a ton of dialogue and most of the voice actors did a really great job.
The Suffering: Ties That Bind delivers more of the same thrills as the first game but doesnt really do anything to move the series forward so it is somewhat disappointing. The gameplay is basically the same as before and it is starting to feel a little mindless and repetitive now. One aspect of the game that works well for the most part is the horror elements. Youll experience lots of flashbacks and enemies will fade in and out as you explore and the whole atmosphere is very creepy. There is blood all over and dismembered corpses and youll even come across a minutes old suicide. This all combines to make a fairly solid horror experience that fans of the genre will love. Fans of the original game will enjoy Ties That Bind, but it is definitely lacking that fresh and shocking feel that made The Suffering such a success. Horror fans will also enjoy it since it packs in all of the blood and gore and evil stuff that we all love. It is a fun game for sure, just maybe not $50 good so I recommend renting it before you decide to buy.