Review by Nathan Miller
As soon as the game begins, the protagonist "Ronan" gets thrown out of a second story window then shot to death while witnessing his own murder in spirit form. Wait, What? Yes, Murdered: Soul Suspect is a game filled with many misleading details and unannounced plot twists. The game approaches apparitions unique to any other game I have played and delivers a fantastic core story-line that would make M. Night Shyamalan jealous. So why is the game underwhelming? Here's a list; unappealing puzzles, appalling side stories/characters, cruddy enemies, and overall lack of variety just to name a few. It is a shame really; there were some great elements put into the game, and I feel it could have been outright amazing if given the proper vision.
The game takes place in Salem, Massachusetts (Yes, the Crucible place.), and follows a local detective's case on a serial killer known only as "The Bell Killer." As I mentioned earlier, Ronan dies at the very beginning. Ronan (who is now stuck in limbo) is tasked with completing unfinished business (aka solving his murder) before he is able to move on from the living world. He quickly finds out that he is not the only spirit stuck in this predicament. A girl apparition by the name of Abigail warns Ronan of the dangers and limitations of his current existence before disappearing off in the distance. Ronan begins investigating his murder all the while possessing and manipulating objects in order to overcome obstacles. He figures out his murderer's actual target was a young girl by the name of Joy. Joy is actually a medium who is able to see and talk to the dead; however, she is hesitant on helping Ronan due to her previous encounters with spirits. Ronan convinces Joy to aid him by promising to help find her missing mother (who was consulting on the Bell Killer case). Ronan's death is echoed throughout the game with all the bad and good flashbacks that encompass his life. The overall story revolves around Ronan and Joy working together to figure out the true identity of the Bell Killer and the location of Joy's mother.
Murdered: Soul Suspect falls under Action Adventure but action should be cut from that distinction. Puzzles, collecting, possessing, and walking around make up your overall experience with this game. They're not even creative puzzles either. The puzzles usually consist of distracting living people and possessing them in order to make it across obstacles. The only action you will get with this game is by killing Demons; However, there isn't a combat system and generally you do your best to avoid enemies. So how do you kill them? You have to sneak up behind a Demon either by standing on the other side of a wall (which you can see through but they can't) and/or distracting them with a spirit crow before initiating a quick time kill event in order to rid of the nuisance. If the demon does spot you, it can kill you within seconds unless you hide in a "spirit" hiding spot. Also, you never want to take on more than one demon at a time (you will die). Want a visual? Check out the video below.
Even though those two kills take place in completely different parts of the game, they remain the same because that is the only way demons are killed and that's that. To be honest, there are not a lot of demons throughout the game either which makes their inclusion questionable. So what were those red and black pits on the ground you saw? Hell pits. While there are hell pits that block off areas around the city of Salem in order to create obstacles for players, you can go wherever you please at anytime except through front closed doors (which are generally never closed). Nonetheless, I recommend not roaming around unless you are interested in finding the collectibles because every citizen of Salem is uninteresting. The main objective of this game is to investigate your murder nonetheless a poor system was implemented for it despite that fact. Soul Suspect makes it nearly impossible to fail an investigation. You can make the wrong assumptions with no real consequences and that takes away the weight of your choices. If this investigation is an individual's only route to salvation, it should feel the part. Soul Suspect does have a few fun elements in the game; for example: possessing a black cat to run around (there's a meow button) and searching for collectibles associated with optional side stories are both great. Here is a video outlining the elements I spoke about below.
Although I have already stated a lot of negative things about Soul Suspect, there are a few more details to clarify. Investigating in this game is utterly disappointing. Unfortunately, it is a crucial component of this game. The side quests are mediocre and composed of idiotic moments, but I will say the first side quest that takes place on the beach was great (it should have been the standard for all other side quests). Everyone inside this town is usually a perv, a psychopath, or stupid and that creates the sensation to not speak to anyone. I understand how Salem is a cursed place and all, but there are normal people even in the craziest of places. At around 00:22 of this next video, your eyes will be like this: O_O
Also, the erratic movement or complete stillness of other ghosts talking to you cuts the emphasis of what is actually being said. The placement of people and ghosts are another questionable element. There is a cemetery you visit at night during the story and about 10+ separate living people are hanging around (a little odd if you ask me). Lastly, The game itself can be completed in about 5-7 hours (maybe even shorter if you do not collect anything) which many would consider to be too short. Once you have completed the game, there isn't any incentive to replay Soul Suspect other than finding your missing collectibles.
Yes, there are plenty of good things to say about Soul Suspect. The game's graphics are well above a lot of games (Xbox One/PS4) and controls work flawlessly. In terms of technical gameplay, Soul Suspect is a responsive and smooth game. As I mentioned earlier, the side stories told after finding a certain set of collectibles are well written and intriguing. Those side stories are better than those side quests (mentioned earlier) by a long shot and they add to the spiritual lore of the game. A snip bit of a side story was at the end of the video above. Also, I mentioned how great the main story is and that description I gave of it only scratches the surface. Soul Suspect is a gorgeous game with an outstanding story and responsive controls; however, it's flaws take away heavily from the good and under delivers with every other aspect wholeheartedly. Personally, I would to see this game's script turned into a movie. If they were to cut out all unimportant characters and streamline the main story, Soul Suspect would surprise and amaze a lot of movie goers.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is a good game that suffers from too many flaws. The success of the story suffers from the failure of the town it takes place in. Without likable townsfolk or creative side quests, Salem is not an interesting environment and this drains the intriguing atmosphere created by the story. Soul Suspect reminds me of a B film that had a great script and idea but had an unfocused production that struggled to polish important side details. If you were to play this game, I would recommend focusing on the story and not the town itself.
Should you Rent this game? Yes, but only if it interests you. The game's story will not disappoint you and it's controls won't drive you crazy. (Also, Easiest 1000 Gamerscore or Platinum Trophy by far)
Should you Buy it? At Full Retail, No. You would feel cheated by the overall experience, and without any real incentive to play again, it's just not worth it. IF YOU REALLY MUST BUY IT: $20 at the Most.
Should you Hit the Meow Button constantly? Yes, Yes you should.