With the onslaught of indie first-person shooters, it seems like everyone is having a stab at crafting their own take on an FPS. Many of these take inspiration from the heyday of the genre back in 1990’s. Some become classics unto themselves, while many more sink into obscurity. And many of them try their own hand at mixing up the formula, adding their own unique twists and ideas. Somewhere in between all of this, we can find a title like SUFFER.
In SUFFER, players take on the role of the “spirit of anarchy”, a seemingly feminine figure (or at least intersex) trapped in a surreal, nightmarish world of grit, grime, greed, and government. As the embodiment of rebellion and all that the state oppresses, you take it upon yourself to cleanse the world of this scourge. The fact that the state is omnipresent and run by literal demons doesn’t deter you in the slightest.
SUFFER is determined to be unique. So much so, that the experience is somewhat hard to describe. Uhm… if you loaded up the original Doom on an old CRT monitor after taking acid and watching the movie They Live, you may get an idea of what to expect from SUFFER. From the get-go, the world is harsh and obnoxious, and your presence is certainly unwelcome. Soul-crushing adverts are sprinkled throughout, as well as tidbits from political speeches. A lot of the game takes place in dingy back alleys and on rooftops. The colour scheme is dark and moody, with thick outlines on most of the objects and entities.
Infesting this world are statist zombies and riot police with annoyingly accurate hitscan attacks. Floating eyes and Templar Knights also add to the enemy roster, with projectile attacks and splash damage to make your day even more depressing. If that’s not enough, you can expect your environment to reject you as well as you traverse all manner of bottomless pits. Fortunately, you’re equipped with a handy dash to make gaps a breeze, and assorted rifles and shotguns that are somewhat overpowered but perfect for dispatching your demonic, statist foes. Inbetween the carnage and parkour, you can find hidden anarchy symbols for bragging rights.
But all is not well in the land of the suffering. The game’s world is presented in extremely low fidelity, and this is coupled with a scan line effect that cannot be deactivated. Artistic merit is one thing, but this effect is quite an eyesore. In fact, it irritated my eyes so much that I couldn’t play for more than half an hour at a time before requiring a break. This also presents a problem for the gameplay, as it is often impossible to see where gunfire originates; particularly problematic when you consider so many of the enemies are hitscanning. Perhaps a future update could address this issue, or at the very least give players the option to turn it off.
I’m also not sure I quite enjoyed the “demon punk” setting the game is going for. The random sound bites, the swearing and middle fingers… it just doesn’t gel together as well as it should, and it becomes a tad jarring after a while. Strip it all away and you have a simple shooter with an emphasis on parkour and platforming, with a bit of shooting and switch-hunting thrown in for good measure. It bills itself as a really hard game, but the medium to small-sized levels make sure that it’s never too infuriating; it doesn’t quite hold a candle to some of the beastly labyrinths in classic FPSes, including the original Wolfenstein 3D all those moons ago. It’s still a good romp, but I find little reason to return to it.
SUFFER is an interesting bag. It’s weighed down by gimmicks, but underneath its hood is a genuine, heartfelt gaming experience. It’s not quite as difficult as it makes itself out to be, and at the end of the day you’re gonna battle the levels more than the enemies. Is it recommended? Well, shucks, that’s a tough one. If you don’t mind something a little rough around the edges, and feel like an FPS with a decent amount of weirdness and platforming, then SUFFER will appeal to you. Also bear in mind that it’s the developer’s first title, and there is definitely some fun to be had here. If that sounds like a good way to spend a few hours, then shoot on over here to download it.
Final Verdict: 3/5
Available on: PC (Steam) ; Publisher: Anarchy Softworks LLC ; Developer: Shawn Perolis ; Players: single-player mode only ; Released: the 11th of December, 2018.
Full disclosure: this review is based on a Steam key for SUFFER provided for us by the publisher.