Murdered: Soul Suspect Xbox One Review
Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Airtight Games Genre: Adventure Players: 1
Age Rating: 16+ Other console/handheld formats: PS4, PS3, Xbox 360
Being murdered isn’t the best way to go, particularly if you don’t know the reason as to why you were mortally slain. Luckily, in the universe of Murdered: Soul Suspect there is a definite afterlife, which is handy for those who enjoy being detectives and investigating their own deaths beyond the grave.
The above is the dilemma in which the ghost of the deceased protagonist Ronan O’Connor finds himself in. The character is a Salem police detective and whilst he’s chasing a serial killer known as the Bell Killer, he is thrown from a window and then shot to death. As a ghost, O’Connor is then determined to investigate his own murder, and eventually be reunited with his dead wife. It certainly makes for an intriguing set-up, and the story and characters held my interest for the 8-10 hours that the game lasts.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is an adventure game with stealth sections, although it quickly becomes clear that it’s lot more of an interactive story than anything else. The adventure elements are shallow and the stealth sections don’t crop up too often, and, with the latter said, it feels as if the parts you play are more like a vehicle to keep the story moving.
As you are investigating your own murder as well as the Bell Killer and his other victims, you will be combing over crime scenes. These sections bring to mind L.A. Noire, with you finding and then checking clues out. There’s little real depth and you are simply told that there’s so many clues in the area, and it’s then your task to hunt them all down, or at least enough of them to move the story ahead. Sometimes you then have to choose the most relevant clues, or to create a timeline of events from said clues, although most of the time it’s obvious as to what to choose, and, even if you do get things wrong, there’s next to no penalty, and certainly no chance of complete failure. There was just so much potential to expand the investigations, but investigating unfortunately feels mostly unsatisfying
It’s easy to see that developer Airtight Games’ attention was on the story, although the game is still frustrating to play, particularly when realising what it could have been and the fact that it hints at wanting to be something else. Still, taken for what it is, Murdered: Soul Suspect still does the job well enough. As I said earlier on in this review, the story is interesting and intriguing enough, and that’s certainly a requirement for such a story driven game.
The most game-like element is definitely the stealth sections. These portions of the game have you dodging in and out of hiding places to avoid demons. If you sneak up behind these demons, it’s also possible to execute them, which will result in you having one less demon to deal with and to hide from. These sections are certainly a nice break from everything else, but Murdered: Soul Suspect definitely can’t be slotted exclusively into the stealth genre, as these portions of the game are few and far between.
As you walk around Salem, you’ll come across some friendlier ghosts as well. These ghosts are often in need of a helping hand, and they have their own stories. The side missions that follow your chats with them often have you having to find out as to why they died in the first place, which allows them to leave Salem with much more peace in their minds. These mini stories are satisfying enough and the writing made me want to reach out and help some of these poor lost souls. There’s also documents and objects to find within the environments, and these will shed further light on the storyline, while also revealing some side stories. If you are determined to find everything, then these objects and documents also add to the longevity of the game.
As O’Connor is a ghost, you are able to walk through objects in the environments, but the game suggests that the afterlife is more limited than we have been led to believe, as it’s not possible to walk through every single object. You are also able to float to new areas, and even possess a cat to reach specific areas. Finally, you can read the minds of people around Salem by jumping into their bodies, which is sometimes used to push the story ahead, but a lot of the time it just feels pointless, as you hear the same things again and again from different people, which means that it gets old fast. Once you dive into someone to hear their thoughts, you aren’t even able to skip them either, which is particularly annoying if you’ve heard the words before.
Visually, Murdered: Soul Suspect doesn’t push the next generation hardware, although it’s still nice enough to look at, with detailed character models and a fittingly haunting art style. Also, designing a game around a ghost meant that Airtight Games could get away with the protagonist passing through objects for a change.
Murdered: Soul Suspect certainly isn’t a game that can be called fun, nor is it one that has deep game mechanics, but the intriguing story certainly does the job. With that said, if you are looking for challenging gameplay, then you should definitely give this one a miss, but if you can put up with simplistic puzzles, lots of exploring, occasional stealth, and the main attraction being a mysterious and intriguing yarn, then Murdered: Soul Suspect might just be for you. As a game though, this is one that has so much potential, but it’s left unfulfilled with its unsatisfying use of its gameplay elements.