Murdered: Soul Suspect – Game Review and Analysis
By Dan Maurer
Developer: Airtight Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Director: Yosuke Shiokawa
Producer: Naoto Sugiyama
Designer: Eric Studer
Composer: Jason Graves
Engine: Unreal Engine 3
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Genre: Action-adventure, stealth
A good mystery should keep you guessing until the very end. It should deliver a solution that defies your earlier instincts and speculation, while also making complete sense. Murdered: Soul Suspect does keep you guessing until the end, but for the wrong reason. The reason being is why am I still playing this awful game? From the tacked on combat to the less than stellar polish, Murdered: Soul Suspect leaves you confused and downright insulted.
Soul Suspect’s fate is a sad tragedy because it tells a somewhat engaging story with a few likeable characters. Protagonist Ronan O’Connor is an interesting lead, and the fact that he dies 30 seconds into the game helps jump start the intrigue. A reformed criminal turned cop still facing plenty of strife, Ronan is unable to move on from his ghostly state and reunite with his deceased wife until he finds out who killed him. With ghostly powers that let him speak with fellow ghosts, inhabit the living to read their thoughts, and look back in time when encountering spirit infused items, it’s an interesting enough premise.
Sadly, the fact that he’s unable to communicate with common folk makes for some lonely stretches of story. The serial killer plot is set in a modern day version of Salem, where the story mixes occult phenomena with procedural police drama in a manner akin to that of the movie “Seven”. Ronan’s spectral status gives him and the player unusual abilities. He’s invisible to most people and can walk through walls and furniture. A majority of humans in the game can be possessed, allowing players to eavesdrop on their conversations or thoughts. Players can also manipulate these people to evoke relevant memories or to make them do things, but never anything more significant than say, moving a pile of papers to analyze a photograph for clues. Players can possess cats too. Can you handle that Mr Whiskers?
As a ghost, you can only enter buildings that have been left open. A door or a window, and there are also overlapping spirit world elements of the town that are as solid to Ronan as the “real” world elements are intangible. It’s a nice effect, as pedestrians casually stroll about their business, unaware of the spectral locomotive running through the street but it’s pretty clearly just an elaborate way to keep you contained and navigating, rather than walking through every wall to get to where you’re going. Even more blatant are the toxic patches of ectoplasmic goop, which exist for no other reason than to prevent Ronan from taking certain paths. There is a narrative explanation for this late in the game, but its origin as a signposting tool is barely concealed.
Other gameplay elements include sequences in which Ronan must guide his reluctant sidekick, a sarcastic teen named Joy through guarded locations, using your invisible presence and poltergeist distractions to clear the way. Just as she uses her ability to help you on your way, actually touching stuff to help you out. It’s the sort of guided escort mission that could be horrendous, but it’s incredibly forgiving and the sparky banter between Ronan and Joy makes them more entertaining than the slender gameplay would otherwise be. There’s no map, which makes navigation around the confusing streets a pain in the ass, and waypoints to your objective are sometimes used, sometimes not. The visuals are OK, but look more like they belong at the start of the previous console generation. Flickers and glitches are commonplace. Soul Suspect gets a lot wrong quite frankly and this is where its main problem lies.
Retailing for $60 on next generation consoles and $50 on previous generation systems, this game definitely does not warrant the inflated price tag on it. If you want to put that money to better use, use it to sponsor a child in a third world country or donate it to a local charity. That would be more enjoyable than trying to play this bloated mess of a game.
PunchDrunkGamer.com Final Score: 3.5 out of 10
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