Murdered: Soul Suspect is an adventure detective game, which was released in mid-2014 on PC, PS3, PS4, 360 and Xbox One. The game was developed by Airtight Games; which hadn’t released anything worthwhile for a while before this game.
You play the role of detective Ronan O’Connor, based in a town called Salem in USA. The story is based around hunting down a serial killer by the name of “The Bell Killer”. Ronan is killed by the serial killer at the beginning of the game and you are revived as a ghost and must find the killer before he can move on to the afterlife.
The game is played in a third person view as you wander around the town of Salem, the town is split into a couple of separate areas, such as churches, graveyards petrol stations etc. As you progress through the story, you learn a few different abilities, such as being able to teleport yourself short distances, being able to possess other living beings allowing you to read their minds or being able to influence their decisions in dialog scenes. The main game play element is solving the mystery of the killer; you do this by investigating the crime scenes for clues on the killer, and trying to predict their next move. This takes on a similar way of doing things as games like LA Noire has done; in that you have to find specific items of evidence scattered, and sometimes hidden around the crime scene in order for you to put them all together in order to resolve the scene. This can lead to quite a few moments of where you need to study all the evidence put in front of you in order to solve it giving it a real detective vibe.
On top of these detective scenes, there is a small element of combat in the game – as you are a ghost, living humans are not able to detect you; however the demon souls of the death world can. You have to remain hidden to these ghosts in shadows before being able to pounce out behind them to kill them by pressing a few key sequences in a small QTE – these combat scenes are very few and far between however and aren’t really anything to rave about as they become very monotonous as you progress in the story.
Visually, Murdered: Soul Suspect looks nice. The whole game takes place in the time frame of one evening, so the darkness of night gives the game a very eerie feel to it. It doesn’t have ultra-realistic graphics, but all of the characters are well animated. There are a couple of poor quality textures, however given that this is a sort of open world game, this can be forgiven somewhat.
The story in Murdered: Soul Suspect is something really special. From the opening scene, I was completely drawn into the plot and was able to fully immerse myself in this world being unfolded in front of me. As you progress, you come across other characters who aid Ronan in his efforts to solve the mystery and you grow attached to them too. The story is 100% linear though; there are no game changing decisions which you have to make which disappointed me slightly. But the overall plot which is being shown here is really interesting.
As this game is being categorized in the horror genre, I would of expected a little more from the sound effects, but I was let down by the fact that there isn’t anything really that scary in Murdered: Soul Suspect; the scariest I came across was the demon’s you encounter; and even they are tame and the lack of any jump scares or horrifying scenes was a let-down too. Every character you find in the game is fully voice acted to a high quality though. None of the voicing sounds off or cringy which is always a plus.
I found that there was next to zero levels of difficulty in Soul Suspect; the lack of any real combat leaves this game without any skill element, and is purely based on your ability to solve the crime scenes by finding the relevant clues – I was able to resolve all of the crime scenes with a 3 star rating 99% of the time (you are scored out of three). The hardest point I found has to be due to the game’s controls which I will go into on the technical issues section of this review.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is a vast open world game; you are able to go wherever you want, whenever you want (within reason). There is absolutely tons of stuff to explore and investigate not related to the main plot. There are a number of side investigations you can complete in the early chapters, but these slowly become less and less common as you progress and focus more on the main plot. Another huge part of this game is finding the collectables; this has to be the game with the most collectables in I have ever played – there are hundreds to find. Each level has its own version of collectable items, and there are also the overall games collectables which unveil even more about the main character’s past, and information about the killer. Due to the fact that there are so many of these to find; I felt a little overwhelmed by trying to find them all and just sort of with the approach of picking any up which I come across whilst completing the investigations.
I finished Murdered: Soul Suspect in just over thirteen hours; this was with doing all of the side investigations, and collecting over a hundred collectables. I also took the time to playout all of the dialog options with all of the characters and spent a lot of time exploring the town of Salem. Sadly though; there is no reason what so ever to play through this game for a second time; you are not able to change the story in anyway nor are you able to ramp up the difficulty simply because there is no difficulty there in the first
I had a couple of technical problems whilst playing. Firstly I was playing on my high end rig, on 1080p settings and even though the majority of the time the frame rate was over 100 fps, it still felt like it was stuttering at times. I had to play with v-sync off because otherwise this locked gameplay to 30fps which looked horrendous. Cut scenes are also played out in 30fps in the game graphics, which makes the transitions between gameplay and cut scenes feel a little off too. The game’s controls during the combat scenes also came across as clunky too; I often found myself not actually completing the QTE presented because it’s not clear which buttons you have to press and what you can let go of which meant a lot of running and hiding from the demons due to failed attempts at killing them. Finally the last issue I had was there are quite a few invisible walls to be found to, these often are in places where you would not expect them, leading to moments where you’ll find you are suddenly floating in mid-air because you’ve walked into a wall and are trying to climb up it – this is something which can affect the immersion of the game and it’s a shame that it is still in it given it’s been out for well over a year now.
I am going to recommend Murdered: Soul Suspect; it has an amazing story which you really do need to experience in order to fully appreciate it, and has an original concept. The linear gameplay, lack of any many action scenes, and a couple of technical issues renders me unable to recommend it more than just that, a recommendation to play. The full price of £19, 99 is also slightly over marked too, so you may even want to wait for it to hit the sales before purchasing.