Murdered: Soul Suspect Review

Gaming

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Murdered: Soul Suspect
Developer: Airtight Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PS3, PS4, PC, 360, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Install Size: 12.18 GB
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Price: $59.99 – Available Here

Overview
A detective hot on the trail of a serial killer is nothing new but it can be something that, if done properly, will create an interesting enough story to pull in consumers. Now make that detective someone who has recently been killed and must try to find the truth about his killer and you have a great sounding concept. As such when Murdered: Soul Suspect was first announced, it garnered quite a bit of attention. However now that the game has been released, does Murdered: Soul Suspect stand any chance of being memorable?

Story
Ronan O’Connor hasn’t had an easy life. With a body full of tattoos reminding him of his crimes as well as his triumphs in life, Ronan’s after life isn’t going to be any easier. A few years after his wife passed away, Ronan is on the case of a serial killer, named the Bell Killer due to a symbol left behind at every crime scene has been leaving a trail of bodies around Salem, Massachusetts.

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We join Ronan as he is flying out a fourth story window and landing on the pavement, with a masked figure standing above. Despite feeling a little worse for wear, Ronan stands up and tries to persue this attacker only to find that the door won’t open anymore and worse yet, he seems to have left his body entirely. Despite trying to revive himself, the killer approaches Ronan’s body and pumps seven rounds into the body, finishing the job and turning Ronan into a corpse/ghost.

Unfortunately for him, despite seeing his dead wife in the afterlife, he cannot join her until he resolves some unfinished business which just so happens to be the identity of his killer. As such players must try to solve the case of the Bell Killer despite not being able to interact with the corporeal world. To do this he soon finds himself a plucky side-kick/medium who is willing to help him since her motivations follow his own.

As such, players embark through a number of areas, investigating not only their own murder scene, but past areas and new ones as well to try and find the truth over the course of a ten or so hour long game that starts to overstay its welcome three quarters of the way through. Sure the story is interesting in its own, and the fact that Salem is thriving with myths and history, especially the supernatural kind of history, helps add some flavor to the story.

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That being said, Ronan is about as bland of a character as one can find, with only your younger assistant providing some real feeling into the story. The only shocking revelations come near the end of the game as the story picks up pace, though it doesn’t help that players will probably already realize the truth long before that point which is a real problem for a game that is as plodding and methodical as Murdered: Soul Suspect is.

Gameplay
Since players are now a ghost who must solve their murder, the first thing they will do is investigate their own death scene where a number of the gameplay mechanics are introduced. Since Ronan is dead, he cannot directly interact with pieces of evidence but because of his situation the player is able to glean additional information that normal detectives wouldn’t be able to since he now has the ability to possess people.

This possession mechanic allows the player to listen in on their thoughts or influence them into remembering something specific to the crime. This is a useful tool to gather clues since not everything can be found simply laying around. Once you finish gathering as many clues as you need, sometimes all you need is two or three out of ten clues to actually complete an investigation, you will need to determine what happened there or where the killer will be going next. These moments take a bit of thought but generally are very easy to put together, then again even if you mess up there is no punishment as the game will let you try again and again until you manage to get it right.

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By traveling from place to place players will travel through the streets of Salem where they will see a number of other ghosts, some of which have stories to tell and even little side-quests that involve discovering something that will help them move on. There are also a large number of collectibles littered throughout each area, ranging from certain themed items that, once they are all gathered, reveal a dark story about the place the player is currently exploring, or tidbits of information about everything under the sun.

This gives players a lot of incentive to look around and since the player an revisit areas as much as they want before the “point of no return” it is a decent way to pad the game’s length but the developers really needed to reign it in a little bit because there is just so much to find at times that it begins to feel like a real chore, since outside of a few fun moments that involve possessing and controlling a cat, the game plays the exact same throughout.

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Speaking of chores, since simply exploring the ghostly world without any confrontation apparently was something that never crossed the developers mind, there are now “Demons” that have lost their reason for moving on and now survive by eating the souls of other ghosts. When demons are in the area, they can be avoided by jumping between and hiding in ghostial residue as being seen by a demon results in the player either being “killed” or in a game of hide and seek. The only way to eliminate a demon is to come at it from behind and pull off a quick time event. These demons are no major threat, aren’t even remotely scary, and serve as nothing more than a speed bump that forces the player to deal with the game’s broken hiding mechanics and even if you do “die” you will just start right back at a checkpoint.

Speaking of broken again, there are numerous areas in Murdered: Soul Suspect where the game simply refuses to work properly. Whether it involves interacting with a specific object, human beings clipping through themselves, or getting a cut-scene to properly load, Murdered: Soul Suspect is a mess. On more than one occasion in the game I needed to restart from checkpoint numerous times because a cutscene would fail to load properly and leave me wandering around with no way to progress the story.

Visuals & Audio
As you explore Salem there is an interesting blend between the real world and the ghostly realm. There are ghostly blue objects from years gone by mixed in with the reality of Salem and players are able to pass through most real objects just like humans not even acknowledge ghostly areas. There is also a creepy theme that the game has going for it when it comes to specters standing in the distance, often more unsettling than anything else in the game.

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As for everything else, the character designs and look of the game are pretty much what one would expect for a game like this. The voice work and everything else isn’t anything to write home about either. Ronan has your stereotypical gruff sounding voice while the rest of the cast is suitable, but hardly impressive.

Overall
Murdered: Soul Suspect is a game that tells an intriguing story with a number of interesting side-stories mixed in to help add some flavor to the game, but it unfortunately is bogged down by poor gameplay mechanics, too much padding that begins to feel unnecessary, and a main character that fittingly has as much personality as a corpse. Murdered: Soul Suspect is a game that has its moments but actually making it to those moments and finishing the story is something that many will not want to deal with.

5-0-capsules-out-of-10
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

As a big fan of anime and games I'll be quick to cover anything that happens to be of interest.

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