Do you believe in ghosts, those specter entities that allegedly roam the other world around us? Well now you get the chance to control one of them, our main protagonist Ronan O’Connor, a veteran cop who was trying to redeem his dark past and as he attempts to solve the mystery of his own murder.
Welcome to Salem, your friendly ghostly town, where Ronan has to roam its streets looking for clues that will help him to solve the biggest case of them all: His.
The story in Murdered: Soul Suspect is strongly influenced by the famous movie Ghost. Our hero gets unjustly murdered and his soul gets stuck in limbo which prevents him from crossing to the other world unless he justifies his purpose and solve the case of the Bell Murderer. The game is a story-driven one with a lot of plot twists and reveals that unfold as you gather clues scattered all around Salem.
Though the settings in Murdered are interesting, the graphics unfortunately fail to impress. The game runs smoothly with a couple of minor glitches–nothing frustrating–and Salem’s streets are beautifully sketched with the few locations you will visit being detailed enough to invoke melancholy. I understand that in such games graphics may not have been the studio’s prime emphasis; I was still looking forward to an advanced graphical experience from a next-gen game.
Murdered: Soul Suspect has you play in a unique manner where you don’t go through streets gun blazing and throwing grenades–which works fine with your ghostly properties–instead, you have the unique ability to go through walls, haunt people, read their minds and manipulate them if you must, all in order to gather enough information to solve a riddle or proceed through an obstacle. You will have to scan corners, reveal hidden clues and collect enough evidence so that you may solve the mystery at hand in a process of elimination that has you choose one of the clues you picked up to answer a question. Each question drives the story forward and should you answer incorrectly, the game doesn’t punish you; it simply starts the process over.
As Ronan, you will encounter a lot of NPCs during the quest, none of them being remarkable save for an ally that you will encounter early on. That ally is a psychic medium called Cassandra who can see and hear Ronan and she will help him to uncover a mind shocking truth about the incidents of the murders.
Salem may be loaded with humans and ghosts alike, but most of them are bland with nothing to offer. You will come across ghosts whom you can choose to help in return for trophies/achievements, and evil spirits you’re better off avoiding or destroying. When it comes to encountering an evil spirit, you have to use stealth and hide inside someone’s spectral remains, a ghost-like apparition of that someone, until the evil spirit turns its back. At that point, you can sneak up on the spirit and perform an execution on it. Should you fail–executions are QTE’s–you have to quickly lose the spirit or else it will be a game over screen for you.
Some tactical elements are added as an additional dimension such as ghostly crows that you can use to lure the evil spirits away, or cats you can possess to reach otherwise inaccessible areas.
The main story takes about 10 hours to complete, and the added side quests will have you roaming Salem’s street searching and scanning for vital clues for another handful of hours. As with most all story-driven games, once you complete Murdered, you will find little reason to revisit it.
All that said, my only gripe with the game is that while the engine gives you a unique method of approaching a case, with tons of options under your disposal, it sketches one-dimensional gameplay method that forces you to complete a task or go through an area in a set manner. Being limited to a pre-determined method when you possess a lot of powers is, needless to say, frustrating. Even going through walls is limited to some walls, and the justification that is offered is hardly convincing.
Regardless of such inane flaws, Murdered: Soul Suspect puts you in a unique and beautiful ride from beginning to end. The game is presented beautifully through a flow of ghostly sentences that appear during main investigation scenes, informing you of your objective and what you should be doing. The game also offers a lot of back-story that you can unravel should you choose to divert from the stoic main story-line. Perfectionists will have tons of collectibles waiting for them to grab, and will find it easy to attain a perfect trophy/achievement count from the first play through.
Murdered: Soul Suspect may not be a conventional game, and I am sure it won’t appeal to many gamers out there, but it has its own beauty that if successfully lures you in, will give you a great gaming experience.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is available for the PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, and was made available to us via a review copy from Square Enix.