I want to preface this review with one fact: I like story driven mystery/puzzle games so take what I say here with that fact in mind. Your mileage will definitely vary if you’re not a fan of that genre.
There are no guns, grenades, knives, or any other kind of weapon in Murdered Soul Suspect and you know what, it’s a breath of fresh air in a sea of rehashed shooting games and HD remasterings. What makes it special will not please everyone or even large number of the gaming populace. I make no bones about it: Murdered Soul Suspect is a slow paced detective/mystery game where you have to use deduction to solve puzzles about murders and dodge enemies. It’s strengths are what make this game enjoyable but it’s weaknesses are what make it difficult to play at times, especially towards the latter part of the game.
The setting and story of Murdered Soul Suspect takes place in Salem, Massachusetts and deeply mixes in the history of the Salem Witch hunts. You play the role of a criminal turned cop, Ronan who has just been thrown out of a second story window. His killer is the main antagonist of the story, the Bell Killer and he eventually finishes off Ronan with 6 or 7 slugs to the chest with Ronans own weapon. Ronan, the ghost of Ronan, is the unfortunate witness to his own murder, which he now has to solve in order to “move on” and rejoin his deceased wife in the glowy light place (we’ll call it “heaven” for lack of a better term). It’s not the most original story by any means but it kept me interested from start to finish. The idea that you’re character has a definitive drive, or cause to move forward is something many video game stories lack.
Ronan may have been a seasoned cop in life but he’s a junior ghost in death. You start off with no real ghostly powers other than the ability to walk through walls, posses and influence living creatures. Walking through walls is something any gamer that I know loves to do. I think we’ve all used “idclip” at some point in the original Doom games. Walking through walls does comes with a few caveats: you can only walk through walls within a building and they have to be from present time. Yes, there are “ghost walls” that block your way and these ghost objects make up most of the games obstacles but I guess it’s better than invisible walls. Caveats aside, I also had some camera issues with walking through walls though I’m not sure what can be done about it. It can be a little jarring when you’re running towards an object and the camera is doing its job and trying not to “clip” through the wall but inevitably you want that camera to clip through. Not a deal breaker but at times it was a little dizzying. The possession and influence are mostly used to move your objectives forward, you can’t actually walk around in another humans body, which is unfortunate because I would have loved to see how that changes the gameplay. You can however possess cats, which was kind of awesome because they can’t be harmed by the annoying enemy demons and they have a larger range of movement than Ronan.
The core gameplay revolves around Ronan investigating key items that pertain to the crime or puzzle at hand. Each key item reveals a clue to help ultimately solve your objectives or answer questions that drive the story forward. Once you’ve investigated the area and items you can then use your powers of deduction to answer or solve your objectives. For the most part I really didn’t have any trouble following along and selecting the appropriate items but there were times when I was guessing and randomly selecting answers to solve the problems. I think this was due to the fact that many of the clues you uncover are very obvious ones and there can be a lot of them. So finding the correct, obvious answer out of 10 or so obvious answers can be little trickier. Murder Soul Suspect is not a brain teaser game by any stretch. In fact, Murder Soul Suspect’s “problems” are rather easy to solve. I was left wanting more of a challenge in these sections of the game even though I enjoyed the detective work.
The less important aspects of gameplay will either have you running around the awkwardly laid out town of Salem or dodging frustrating demons. I’ll deal with the latter first but I can really sum this up with three words: the demons suck. Similar to the Silent Hill series, the main enemies of Murdered Soul Suspect only come out to play after you’ve investigated an area or between areas of investigation. Thankfully, they don’t show up too often but when they do they only serve to slow down the pace of an already slow game. I think the developer meant for these to do the opposite by trying to add a survival horror element to the game. Unfortunately, that’s not how these Demons play out especially since they only end up being an annoying distraction from the story. This is especially rampant towards the end of the game when there are more and more of these assheads floating around. The worst of it is that the demons can only be “killed” by sneaking up behind them, hitting an action button, then quickly hitting the on screen quick time events (QTE). I actually just sighed out loud while writing those words. QTEs don’t belong in any game in the year 2014 – hell, they don’t belong in any game period. QTEs don’t serve any purpose other than to randomly chance you messing them up and forcing you to repeat a section because of it. You can imagine how annoying it is to first sneak up on these demons, who will suck your soul if they see you, and then hopefully succeed in a QTE. Luckily the QTEs are really just two button presses, nothing more, but they’re still annoying.
Murdered Soul Suspect isn’t a very long game. I took my time and even collected over 150 collectables but I still finished the game in about 8 hours time. I guess that’s not too surprising for a game today especially one driven by a singular goal or story. There really isn’t much replay value here either. A single play through will net you the only ending available. Even if you’re a completionist, I still don’t see the point of another play through since chances are you’ve been collecting everything along the way. By the end of the game I was hoping for a little more but I can’t say that’s entirely a bad thing. The fact of the matter is, it means I enjoyed the game enough to want more and that’s more than I can say for most of the games out for this generation of consoles.
Murdered Soul Suspect
Intriguing story driven adventure, Enjoyable puzzles, Good voice acting, likable anti-hero protagonist
Demons are frustrating and slow down the story, Quick Time Events add to frustating Demon scenes, A short experience
Jun 3, 2014