Review: Murdered: Soul Suspect Is A Decent Mystery, But Suffers Elsewhere
Airtight Games, the developers of Dark Void and Quantum Conundrum, bring us an action adventure stealth hybrid game murder mystery called Murdered: Soul Suspect. The game oozes noir detective sensibilities with a supernatural edge that is quite inventive. However, the game doesn't deliver on a number of fronts.
- Worth The Time?If you enjoy good mysteries and a game with an interesting ghost mechanic then you should check this out.
- Things LovedThe main mystery driving Murdered: Soul Suspect is enjoyable and includes links to the Salem Witch trials which is really quite riveting to explore. Playing as a ghost makes for interesting mechanics and it's enjoyable to possess people or read their thoughts, teleport across areas and do generally ghostly activities. The voice acting was quite good as well, and the game sells the murder mystery element very well with many spooky locations. The game's strong visual style and characters are also quite intriguing.
- Things HatedThe stealth mechanics are haphazardly designed and killing demons you encounter is quite a chore. NPCs get recycled and the game can at times be a buggy experience. Investigations and collecting clues is clumsy to navigate and actually solving an investigation is merely trial and error. Side missions feel tacked on and don't serve any true purpose in the grand scheme of things.
- RecommendationIf you enjoy a good detective story and murder mystery then Murdered: Soul Suspect is a game to consider playing.
- Name: Murdered: Soul Suspect
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: None
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: Airtight Games
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Price: R749 (PS4, Xbox One), R705 (Xbox 360, PS3), R445 (PC)
- Reviewed On: PS4
In Murdered: Soul Suspect, you play as Detective Ronan O’Connor, a criminal who became a detective and finally a ghost following his own death at the hands of a serial killer known as the Bell Killer. The game is set in Salem, Massachusetts the infamous site of the Salem witch trials. Ronan finds himself revived as a ghost, and desperately seeks the truth about his murder, but he just needs to find the right lead.
In the game, Ronan needs to solve his own murder in order to find peace and join his deceased wife in the afterlife. Thus he uses his newly acquired ghostly abilities to get the job done. Along the way, he encounters a host of characters including a teenage girl named Joy Foster who is looking for her mother Cassandra, a person of interest in solving the Bell Killer case. Joy is a medium and has the ability to communicate with ghosts and so she joins Ronan on his journey to solve the ultimate mystery of the Bell Killer. From this point on, the game’s narrative really drives home the mystery of the Bell Killer, which is further enhanced by the strong setting that is Salem, and the Salem Witch trials, which gives the game a tinge of the macabre.
As a ghost, Ronan can explore the world of Salem which has deep ties to the supernatural, the world of the spiritual. The game has you following investigation after investigation utilising Ronan’s ghostly skills to solve cases, and get one step closer to the truth about the Bell Killer. Ronan uses ghostly skills which includes the ability to posses people, and cats, read minds, influence people’s thoughts, and see and hear what a person knows. You can make progress by walking through walls, opening doors and you can even teleport across short distances which helps to overcome various supernatural obstacles. Murdered: Soul Suspect also has a strong focus gameplay-wise on possessing people, which is pretty much how you collect leads for investigations.
Possession is a great way to make your way across demon-infested sections of a location and into consecrated ground, land which ghosts cannot normally make safe passage into. Especially since Ronan will encounter demons around every corner. Demonic spirits devour human souls and so as Ronan you need to use your ghostly abilities to evade demons before they tear you away from existence itself. This is where the stealth element of Murdered: Soul Suspect comes into play and you can teleport away to rid yourself of demons, or hide in the ghostly residue of other ghosts. However, when demons are alerted to your existence they will search through the various hiding places for Ronan. Yet you can easily switch between hiding places and distract demons, you can then execute demons if you so choose. But the stealth doesn’t work out too well, as it is quite easy to be detected and if by chance you make your way around demons there are instances where the game won’t load the next cutscene. In one example, in the church there were demons all around, I snuck successfully past the demons and by mistake alerted them at the last second, but I still managed to make it to the next area. The cutscene wouldn’t load for the next investigation, and all the demons had to be executed for the cutscene to successfully load.
In terms of investigations, there are main story quests which involve investigations related to the Bell Killer case and sidequests which require Ronan to help lost souls make their way to the afterlife by solving cases related to the souls’ unfinished business. With sidequests, you help souls and learn more about Salem and your surroundings which increases your detective ranking. There are also collectibles to be found, as well as stories and facts which you can uncover across all the locations in Salem. In typical investigations, you search around the crime scene for clues and interact with the environment which brings up a screen with all the collected leads and clues which you have to piece together.
As a ghost, Ronan can collect clues by possessing people (and cats), and touching objects and people within his surroundings. This enables Ronan to collect a myriad of clues which help to ultimately to solve each case he comes across and brings him closer to the truth about the Bell Killer. Most of the time with clues, it is a guessing game where you connect the dots and you get a number of tries before your detective ranking goes down. But you can just keep trying by putting different clues and leads together, and you will close a case in no time. This becomes boring and monotonous in no time.
With gameplay design, Murdered: Soul Suspect suffers the most as it feels poorly executed. The game travels down a dangerous path of repetitive and mundane elements which are not cohesive for the most part. It is pretty novel at the beginning of the game to be able to play as a ghost, but things turn pretty boring when the novelty wears off. The mechanic is interesting but is never fully realised. As Ronan, you can cause poltergeist activity to distract people and interact with the environment to reveal hidden memories, and you are able to interrogate the dead which leads to some interesting conversations and stories.
Fighting demons is cumbersome and the stealth isn’t all that great to begin with and loses its edge quickly. Dealing with demons and lost souls becomes quite the chore and the game suffers from a great deal of homogeneity. Murdered: Soul Suspect on a number of occasions recycles NPCs and the game can at times be a buggy experience. Investigations and collecting clues are clumsy to navigate and actually solving an investigation is merely trial and error. Side missions feel tacked on and don’t serve any true purpose in the grand scheme of things. The game’s narrative, locations, strong visual style and cast of characters are its saving grace.
Murdered: Soul Suspect delivers a pleasing mystery and detective story with an enjoyable cast of characters. Voice acting is pretty good in the game and the story more than benefits from such strong casting. The story is full of twists and turns that would put M. Night Shyamalan to shame. But it does work out well and the story is engrossing to the point that if that was the sole focus of the game, instead of all the mess that was created with the gameplay design, Murdered: Soul Suspect would be better off. Especially if the game was more discerning with how the gameplay was implemented.
Locations across Salem are hauntingly beautiful and are fun to explore. You can travel through an old church, an asylum, a graveyard and the police station which Ronan once frequented when he was alive. The overarching influence and atmosphere created by the infamous Salem witch hunts helps to give Murdered: Soul Suspect a spooky feeling when playing. The game’s visual style is unique and brings that detective noir influence into the game. The stark comparison of the ghostly realm of the dead and that of the living creates an interesting contrast that works in the game’s favour, but the messy gameplay and execution of certain elements does muddle the experience to a degree. That said, Murdered: Soul Supect feels like a lost opportunity on many fronts, but the main story that drives the game is very compelling.