Welcome to this week’s, “Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?”Â Each week we’re going to look at a dormant franchise that was once pretty popular, but for some reason has disappeared into the sands of time. Diehard GameFAN staffers will have four options for what they want to have happen to the series and you can see them in the title of this piece. For a little more detailed description see below:
Sequel – A direct sequel to the franchise. This means if it used sprites and was in 2-D, that’s how you want the next game to be as well. This might involve putting the game on a handheld system instead of a console, but it keeps the nostalgia and classic feel alive.
Spin Off – This is where you take the characters or a specific character is a totally different direction from the established franchise. Examples include Luigi’s Mansion, Hey You, Pikachu!, Shadow Hearts (From Koudelka), and so on.
Start Over – This is a reimagining of the series from the ground up. Perhaps it’s time to bring the series into 3-D. Perhaps you want a totally different control scheme or to throw away the old continuity. In a nutshell, this is taking the brand name from the old series and that’s about it. Everything else is new and re-envisioned.
Stay Dead – This is pretty obvious. This is a toxic franchise that you don’t want to see return in any way shape or form. Let the dead rest.
This week we’re looking at a franchise that won several awards from us with its initial game back in 2004. Its sequel, The Ties That Bind scored well with our reviewer at the time, but most of us that played it felt it was a huge drop in quality compared to the original. Back in October of 2008, both Matt Yeager and myself voted the location of the first game, Carnate Island the creepiest setting in all of video games. Despite critical and consumer praise, there hasn’t been a new game in The Suffering series since 2005. Does the series still have a leg to stand on, or were two games one game too many?
Matt Yeager – Sequel
I didn’t like The Suffering: Ties That Bind, but the original is one of my favorite action/horror games ever. With the right development team behind it, I’m thinking along the lines of the guys behind EA’s Dead Space, the 2K team behind Bioshock, or hell, how about the guys behind the Silent Hill reimaging, Climax Studios could make this series work. The Suffering needs a team that would be able to understand that half of the game is fighting real monsters while the other half is battling internal ones. The Ties That Bind seemed like it had no understanding on how to handle that concept. I’d love to see a good sequel of one of my favorite games.
Mark B – Start Over
Let’s establish one thing before we start: I didn’t like either of the games from The Suffering franchise. I thought the first game had some interesting concepts and ideas, but the actual gameplay wasn’t interesting to me, and I wasn’t thrilled with the actual execution of the games in a lot of respects. The games really just felt like by-the-numbers third-person shooters with some horror elements built in. While this isn’t a bad thing per say, Resident Evil 4, its sequel and Dead Space have pretty much outclassed it in all respects at this point.
So why would I want them to start over? Because it’s very likely Midway doesn’t own the series any more.
See, Midway ended up having to liquidate a whole lot of their assets back in 2009 (and they’re still working on that now). Among those was the development house that developed The Suffering games, Surreal Software. As it’s very likely that the franchise went along with its developers, that would place The Suffering squarely in the hands of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. I would, I admit, be somewhat interested to see a Suffering game come from their publishing house, if only because they’ve been on a roll, quality-wise, for the past few years.It’s likely they might be able to direct Surreal Software in a way such that a reboot would make the series interesting. Well, interesting to me, anyway, as I know a bunch of the staff loved it. We will see.
Alex Lucard – Stay Dead
My big problem with the gaming industry these days is that everyone is looking to make a franchise rather than a single game. Instead of concentrating on one truly great game and seeing if it is worthy of a sequel, we have companies with sequel-itis and who have developers thinking on the second or even third game in a series before the first is completed.
Look, I love The Suffering, but it should have never been a series. It should have been a really good one-shot game and then left alone. The sequel lacked all of the style, surrealness and outright creepiness of the game. It was a huge disservice to the original where the combat and gameplay was one giant metaphor for the main character, Torque’s, state of mind. It was simply brilliant while the sequel didn’t need to be made and never should have been. It was Midway and Surreal Software looking for an extra payday and crapping on the original’s quality.
Some games don’t need sequels or remakes. Some games just need to be left alone as they can stand the test of time. Port the original to XBLA or as a PSOne classic as it will give a whole new generation a chance to play the game. Just don’t add another chapter to a “franchise” that was able to tell its story completely in a single game.
End Result –
Start Over: 1
Stay Dead: 1
So there we go. Three staffers and three different opinions as to what should happen with The Suffering. To be honest, I’m interested to see who has even played the game at this point.
Join us next week as we look at a classic Dungeons & Dragons franchise from the almighty Black Isle Studios. Second Edition AD&D may be dead, but does this particular franchise have to stay that way? See you then!