When you think of horror games, you usually think of a game that focuses on a specific aspect. Survival horror, atmospheric horror, or psychological horror just to name a few. Suffer The Night takes a big leap to combine several genres of horror, creating a frightening experience. By combining several horror genres together, the game makes you scared to continue, jumping at every sound.
That mix of genres is a double-edged sword, as the game spreads itself too thin trying to offer something unique. There are also some graphical bumps and control issues that make a noticeable impact on the experience. Thankfully, the pros outweigh the cons, making Suffer The Night a special horror game that you won’t quickly forget.
Suffer The Night is available on PC for USD 9.99.
Story – Could Have Avoided This
Suffer The Night has a typical excuse horror plot to kick things off. You play as Stacey Linden, a horror illustrator in 1989 who is staying at her cabin. During a storm, she gets a mysterious floppy disk delivered to her home which lets her play a text-based game. Strange things begin happening after she gives it a try, and Stacey finds herself dealing with supernatural forces that want her dead.
Most of the story happens because if things didn’t work a certain way, there wouldn’t be a game. There’s no option to truly “continue” unless you proceed as planned. Even back in 1989, it wasn’t a good idea to load software from an unknown source. But Stacey must play mysterious software delivered during a storm, or there’s no story. When a foreign figure waits outside your door, why engage them? The smart option would be to ignore them, but you can’t proceed without interacting with them.
Similar to The Mortuary Assistant, the story isn’t as strong as it could be. There are a few plot holes and unexplained concepts that stick out after you complete the game. Fortunately, the story is sturdy enough that if you don’t think too much, everything works alright. It does feel like a missed opportunity, but the gameplay doesn’t allow for a strong story. The real draw is the horror gameplay, which tries to distract you from the story by scaring you in multiple ways.
Gameplay – Terror From the Beginning
Suffer The Night is played in the first person, and you are often in dark areas like the cabin you begin in. The fear sets in, even if you can turn on lights to make things easier. The first part of the game is reminiscent of survival horror, because you are up against a supernatural force trying to hurt you. The only options she has are to continue playing the text-based game and fix major problems before the worst happens.
The second part of the game ditches the survival horror entirely for an action-puzzle solving experience similar to CrossCode. While it still focuses on the atmospheric horror, Suffer The Night isn’t nearly as scary in the second part. You explore a brand new area and try to solve puzzles, getting into some fights with various monsters. Along the way, there are collectibles to find that shine more light on the story or provide helpful advice.
While the survival horror aspect hasn’t been completely abandoned, it’s almost like you are playing a different game. Stacey finds weapons to defend herself and she is rarely helpless. It doesn’t lessen the impact of some horror aspects, but it does seem like an odd choice.
The first part is a frightening experience if you don’t know what to expect. The second part ditches most of that horror for puzzle solving and simple combat. It’s a good mix of two types of horror, but no horror genre really shows its full potential. Suffer The Night is still fun to play, but the lack of focus means none of the game’s strengths are fully utilized. This is apparent when you see some gameplay concepts become redundant.
Concepts – Don’t Work as Intended
To Suffer The Night’s credit, some gameplay concepts always remain useful. Searching for hidden objects and pathways never gets old and is required to complete the game. Where the concepts fall short and drag down the gameplay are seen with torch lighting and stealth. It’s understandable that they are there, but they don’t work as you initially envision. Even something like opening doors or cabinets becomes an unnecessary chore because it wasn’t fully polished.
Torch lighting seems like a great way to keep the fear at bay by brightening up areas. Unfortunately, you rarely revisit areas once you complete them and the light boost isn’t significant. Lighting torches feels like something you do because it comforts you rather than having a real gameplay aspect.
There’s also a “stealth” portion where you run from invincible enemies who can only be stunned by bright light. You are told to be quiet to avoid detection, but you are often trekking through water and are forced to make sounds. Your bright light makes a large noise, which attracts enemies to your location. But even if you are completely silent, the enemies track your position no matter where you are.
This is where the double-edged sword of combining multiple horror genres together becomes apparent. It’s fun to have different experiences which varies the gameplay and prevents the game from becoming stale. But when some gameplay concepts are never useful, it’s clear that some things weren’t properly thought out.
It could be that these concepts are designed to lull the player into a false sense of security. But given the attention that other concepts received, it seems that combining genres wasn’t always going to work out.
Audio & Visuals – Look Over Your Shoulder
One area where Suffer The Night stands out is its atmosphere. Shadows are everywhere and you are thankful for the light you can see. The audio is either loud and brief, or soft and constant. When loud noises are heard, you jump and try to address the problem quickly. If you hear soft noises getting louder, something’s clearly trying to get you and it’s going to hurt. The tension never goes away, and it makes you dread continuing even if you believe the path is safe.
There are a few areas where you can see the flaws in the audio and visuals. As crisp as the 3D models are, you can see a few rough spots where the graphics aren’t perfect. When listening to floppy disks, the audio hasn’t caught up with the text display. Despite the imperfections, getting the atmosphere down is more important for Suffer The Night, and it does a fantastic job.
Suffer The Night was reviewed on Steam with a code provided by UberStrategistPR.