Oh Murdered: Soul Suspect, how I was hoping so much for you to be an interesting, thrilling, and story-driven game with consequences for all my actions. I love games such as Heavy Rain, Fallout 3, and even Telltale Games' lauded The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us episodic series. Every choice you made in those games affected the narrative in such a way that it often left you wondering if you made the right choice. Murdered: Soul Suspect is a supernatural tale that strives to be like other, more successful story-driven games, but fails to achieve this by simply being an interactive movie with no consequences and a forgettable narrative.
The beginning of Murdered: Soul Suspect introduces us to Salem police officer, Detective Ronan O’Connor - a loose cannon cop with a checkered past – who is chasing down the notorious Bell Killer. When Ronan finally confronts the killer, he gets into a pretty brutal fight, before getting thrown out the window of a two-story building. When Ronan comes to, he stumbles to his feet only to see his motionless body lying on the ground. After a few attempts to reinsert his soul into his body, his assailant finishes off his body by plugging six rounds into his chest. Ronan is then shown the proverbial “light” where he’s greeted by his dead wife, Julia, who tells him that he has to take care of some unfinished business in Salem before he’s able to join her. This is where the interesting story ends, and the generic and predictable tale begins.
Even though Ronan is dead, he is determined to find out who the Bell Killer is and bring his or her reign of terror to an end. You start this by investigating your own murder scene. While doing this, you come to realize that you’re able to see and converse with other souls who have yet to cross over to the other side. After learning about your newfound abilities from a young girl who has been dead for hundreds of years, your continued investigating leads you to a church in Salem where you meet Joy, a medium who is able to interact with other ghosts as well. Obviously, you’d need someone who is alive to help you through all of this (a la Oda Mea Brown from the movie Ghost). Joy has her own personal issues regarding her missing mother, and because you used to be a cop, it’s a match made in heaven...or is it purgatory?
”Murdered: Soul Suspect is a supernatural tale that strives to be like other, more successful story-driven games, but fails to achieve this by simply being an interactive movie with no consequences and a forgettable narrative. "
As you make your way throughout the foggy darkness of Salem – the entire story takes place overnight – you will encounter evil souls simply called demons. Using your ability to swap between reality and some form of supernatural world, you’re able to locate these demons and figure out their set patterns. You can make your way around these demons using “pods” inside which you can hide your soul to stay out of their line of sight. You will need to teleport between each pod if the demons spot you and begin to hunt you down. If you’re able to stay hidden long enough, the demons will lose interest and return to their routine. You can also destroy the demons if you’re stealthy enough to sneak up behind them and perform a quick-time event correctly. Other than these demons – who all look the same by the way – and a few demon pits that are littered throughout each area you enter, there are no other ways to fail in Murdered: Soul Suspect. Taking down demons is fairly easy to do, so once you’ve perfected that ability, the little difficulty that existed is now completely gone.
Even the investigations themselves are simple and boring, as there is no way to alter the story and no fear of making a mistake. During these investigation segments, you must search throughout the area for clues that you can use to piece together your perception of what happened. Once all the pieces are gathered, you have to choose the three most likely related to the crime in order to crack the case. There’s even a little indicator consisting of three glowing badges, and each time that you choose poorly, they lose their glow. The only problem is, even if you pick incorrectly three times, you’re still allowed to keep choosing until you have selected the correct ones, and then the story proceeds. If there aren’t any consequences to picking poorly, what the hell is the point of the three glowing badges? Are they like the three seashells from the movie Demolition Man, where no one has a clue of what their purpose is? There’s not even a Trophy if you do make it through without getting any of them wrong. There are no consequences at all, which is strange to me when it comes to video games; the fear of losing is what makes them fun and challenging.
Not all is mediocre in Murdered: Soul Suspect, thankfully. The atmosphere throughout all of Salem is creepy and effective, and the city itself is rather expansive, with plenty of collectibles hidden throughout (NOTE: make sure to find all the collectibles BEFORE you enter the museum for the final act, once it ends, you wont have the option to explore Salem any further). There are lost souls wandering about that act as catalysts for the game's side-quests, and they need your help to piece together clues to find out what happened to them. Even though the game takes place at night, the town is nicely detailed and the character models look good as well. The voice acting is solid, but outside of Ronan and Joy, the supporting cast doesn’t have much to work with in order to create memorable characters. And even though the story has a mildly entertaining ending, it may only appeal to those that actually paid attention throughout the adventure.
”There are no consequences at all, which is strange to me when it comes to video games; the fear of losing is what makes them fun and challenging. "
Murdered: Soul Suspect isn’t a horrible game, it’s not even a bad game, but it does absolutely nothing to help it stand out. Considering there haven’t been many retail games released over the past couple of months, it’s a squandered opportunity to make some noise among gamers. While it does sport a rather creepy atmosphere with a few genuine scares along the way, it’s the lack of difficulty and underwhelming narrative that keeps Murdered: Soul Suspect from becoming a good game. With Airtight Games closing its doors earlier this month, I doubt we will hear anything more regarding this game, whether it be DLC or any sequels. Rest in peace Murdered Soul Suspect, there is no unfinished business for you here.
- Creepy atmosphere with a few genuine scares throughout.
- Plenty of collectibles.
- Final act can't save the first three-quarters of the story.
- Way too easy with no difficulty settings to choose from.
- Pointless investigation system.