Developer: Airtight Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Genre: Action Adventure
Price: $59.99, Available Here
When I first heard about Murdered: Soul Suspect, I was intrigued by the concept – a ghost detective solving his own murder. It had a cool look to it (a ghost walking around with a fedora and glowing bullet holes? Sign me up!) and showed quite a bit of promise. Now, after having played through the entire game, I’m somewhat deflated on the experience, but satisfied with the story of Ronan, Joy, and the Bell Killer.
You are Ronan O’Connor, a detective for the police department in Salem, Massachusetts. A mysterious serial killer known only as the “Bell Killer” has been on the loose and you’ve tracked him down. After a serious tussle, Ronan is thrown out a second story window and shot seven times.
Seeing his own demise, Ronan realizes he’s a ghost. He’ll have to use all of his detective training and the help of a young medium named Joy track down who killed him and put a stop to Salem’s serial killer.
The story itself is quite well told. The game does a good job fleshing out each of the characters, providing compelling backstories for each of them. Though you may not spend a lot of time with each individual character, you’ll be drawn into the compelling narrative enough to see the 8-10 hour journey to its end.
Unfortunately, the gameplay mechanics are, hands down, the weakest aspect of Murdered: Soul Suspect. With each scene, you’re presented with a scenario. You’ll have to explore the environments, uncovering as many clues as possible before drawing your conclusion to the mystery. Much to my dismay, this is often done by picking up to three clues that try to answer often vague questions. You’ll find yourself scratching your head with the choice more than once.
A major flaw with the guessing mechanic is that you suffer no recourse for failed attempts. There is no fail state. You could guess the solution with only a single clue found and, if you’re lucky, you’ll never have to find the rest. Most are just filler anyway. It’s unfortunate to see no real consequence for failed actions.
As a ghost, you can walk through walls. It’s a bit disappointing, though, that you can’t just walk through any wall you want. Many paths are blocked and the game uses the write-off excuse that ghosts can’t go through anything “consecrated by the inhabitants of Salem.” It’s an explanation that holds no real meaning, save that the developers wanted to restrict your path.
Finally, the game does contain a sort of combat mechanic, but it’s possibly one of the weakest I’ve ever seen in a game. Demons will sometimes spawn in an area. They have concrete patrol paths. To get rid of them, you have to sneak up behind them and banish them using a quick time event. If they find you, you have to flee, hiding in a sort of “soul dust” until they return to their set patrol. It’s a weak attempt at combat and, at best, a mediocre distraction from spiritual sleuthing.
Murdered: Soul Suspect could have made a solid film. It has an intriguing, mysterious plot you’ll play to the end to unravel and the characters are genuinely interesting and likable. The journey, however, is bogged down with boring gameplay mechanics that only seem to get in the way. If you’re looking for a great story, Murdered will keep you going but there’s very little here to warrant a full-priced purchase.
Final Rating: 5 out of 10