Murdered: Soul Suspect ReviewFiled inside: Reviews
Murdered: Soul Suspect had an immense amount of potential. It possessed the framework to be a truly innovative and invigorating idea. We’ve seen a slew of horror-filled escapades grace our screens over the decades, but Murdered: Soul Suspect offered gamers a brand new twist on the supernatural. The ability to interact with the past and right a wrong from beyond the grave sounded like a ghastly good adventure on paper, but sadly the extraordinary affair will go down as nothing more than a massively wasted opportunity.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is a graphical roller coaster. The start of the game includes a well designed and graphically pleasing opening, with a good amount of detail and some solid animation. A gloomy mystery unfolds, flanked by murder, discovery, and a head-first dive into the paranormal. It gracefully sets the tone for a ghastly crime drama, and even though we only get a small glimpse of the murky environment, it really helps to set the tone for the dark deed.
But the beauty soon ends, and is cast aside by dark surroundings that help to hide graphical errors, texture popping, and some seriously annoying slowdown. From the very start of in-game action, you’re immediately greeted by stuttering and awkward graphical effects as you move slowly around the crime scene. It’s unfortunate that the crime opening isn’t nearly as fluid and graphically pleasing as the prior cut-scene.
The rest of the game is a confusing mixture of stellar graphical elements laced by some very poor visual issues. The characters themselves are well designed and some have a great sense of personality. The environments, while monochromatic and dreary, occasionally offer up some great moments in storytelling and level design. But half of my game time was spent dealing with horrendous camera angles, visually cut corners, and enough slowdown to quickly become a nuisance.
The Murdered: Soul Suspect experience is one that is primarily—almost completely—run by the storytelling. Graphics and gameplay aside, the journey is very theatrical, borrowing elements from gritty detective dramas and lining them with heavy ghostly overtones. The end result is a tale of revenge, love, mystery, and historical events.
You’ll take control of Ronan, an ex-convict turned detective that meets his demise by attempting to wrangle in a dangerous serial killer on his own. The killer finishes the hero in a most personal of ways, a tragedy that causes the hero’s ghost to remain stuck on the mortal plane, until he can solve the mystery of the Bell Murders and uncover a sinister plot. Along the way you’ll meet a cavalcade of interesting characters, both human and ghost, that help to paint a dark picture of the town of Salem, Massachusetts.
Unfortunately, what is supposed to be the game’s strongest hook, falls very flat. The storytelling in Murdered: Soul Suspect, is incredibly basic, and while the story itself offers a few glimmers of genius from time to time, the majority of the tale is predictable, boring, and uneventful. The ending is perhaps the most intricate and eye-widening aspect of the entire game, showcasing a twist that’s unexpected, and well thought out.
Developers also took the time to include an abundance of historical facts and elements into Murdered: Soul Suspect, and I applaud them for that. There were a few collectible tidbits here and there that offered some creative and interesting insight into the mystical world of Salem, and game creators did a great job of blending the past with the present. There are even some entertaining “props” that are only visible in the ghost world, opening a window into the past, when times were simpler and the streets were lined with cobblestone.
It’s hard not to appreciate what developers envisioned when they created Murdered: Soul Suspect. The gameplay framework for this release was very imaginative, and the prospect of solving murders from beyond the grave is an interesting twist on the traditional crime drama genre. It’s comparable to LA Noire, in which you analyze clues and then put together a conclusion based on the things you’ve observed and discovered. Unfortunately, the crimes presented in Murdered: Soul Suspect are beyond basic in design and very easy to solve.
When you arrive at a crime scene it’s your job to first scour the area for any applicable clues. At any time, you can make an educated guess based on the clues you have found. Making the correct guess will award you with a “three badge score,” signifying that you’ve done a great job in analyzing the facts. An incorrect guess will cause that badge count to go down, and too many incorrect guesses will keep your “badge score” at one until you discover the correct answer. Unfortunately, this score doesn’t really offer much influence on the game itself, and there is no way to fail a crime scene. Because of this, it’s possible to mindlessly run through each crime, mashing buttons and choosing clues until all the pieces fit together. There is a serious lack of difficulty when it comes to solving these crimes, and that’s unfortunate since the majority of the game’s playability revolves around these events.
When not solving crimes you’ll find yourself running around aimlessly, grabbing up collectibles and “learning” about areas within Salem and the events that took place there. For those of you that are hungry for achievements, this provides the bulk of your score, and wandering around to collect seemingly useless items can become quite the boring affair. This is made worse by the lack of a map or mini-map, which has you discovering areas and revisiting places by your memory alone.
Anyone who is hungry for action or combat will be met with much disappointment. The combative aspect of Murdered: Soul Suspect feels much more like an afterthought than a planned mechanic. Demons will occasionally pop up in specific areas, and it’s your job to sneak up behind them and execute them. You’ll have to use ghost residue to hide from their line of sight, and there are ravens in some areas that can help you provide useful distractions. That’s the combat system in its entirety. It’s very dull, and comes off as an annoyance rather than a game enhancement.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is the perfect candidate for a good idea gone bad. The game itself is far too short, offers no difficulty, has absolutely no replayability value, and plays out like a c-rate horror movie with a serious lack of story hooks or excitement. I respect what Airtight Games and Square Enix were hoping to accomplish with this release, and they have a great premise. But the execution was seriously lacking, and the overall design of the game just feels rushed and broken.
If you’re looking for some easy achievement points, and don’t mind wasting six hours of your life (if that) to get them, then you might want to give Murdered: Soul Suspect a try. I wouldn’t go dropping retail price on this release, this is definitely one of those games that’s better of rented, or just skipped entirely.