Murdered: Soul Suspect is an interesting game. It is not AAA nor it is indie. It sits somewhere in the middle in a sort of limbo. This is symbolically poignant considering the game is about ghosts who exist somewhere in between the afterlife and the physical world. Like the spectral beings, this title feels a bit out of place within the current gaming landscape. This isn’t a detriment to it as it ultimately delivers an enjoyable and somewhat unique experience.
Soul Suspect deals with a detective named Ronan O’Connor who is trying to solve a murder. The twist here is that the murder he’s trying to solve is his own. Given the way that he was killed, Ronan is stuck in the physical world until he can detach himself from it by finding his killer.
Playing as a ghost presented some unique challenges and opportunities. Ronan can walk through most any object, save those which have been consecrated. These barriers are of course video game tropes to keep you within the boundaries of the world. He can’t move objects but he can influence them with his “poltergeist” powers. It sucks to not be able to touch anything but at least he can manipulate technology to suit his ends. His abilities also allow him to see things that mortals can’t, as well as to uncover hidden items.
The heart of the game lies firmly in the detective genre of entertainment. Ronan must scour for clues and question witnesses. In his case, finding clues means using ghost abilities to make them appear in the environment or inhabiting people’s bodies to read their minds. His means may be different than when he was a living man but his ends are the same.
The game does a decent job of making you feel like you are watching an old detective movie. Though set in the present era, it still feels like something from the 1920s and 30s. Ronan’s swagger and fedora also help to give him that old-timey detective feel. Even the environments themselves feel almost like those of black and white movies. The world has color of course but the thick Salem fog drowns them out somewhat, which makes the ambiance that much more convincing.
The act of looking for clues and solving specific cases was enjoyable for the most part. It was simple — look for as many clues in the environment as possible and then piece together the most relevant ones to find answers. You eventually get into a sort of autopilot mode with finding clues and solving mysteries but I never once got bored of doing this.
There’s a sort of ranking system in place: you receive three badges for correctly guessing the clues without mistakes and you get less badges for incorrectly guessing the answers. The weird thing is that even if you continually keep guessing wrong and just stumble upon the answers later, you don’t get penalized in any way. This leads me to believe the ranking system to be superfluous and unnecessary at best, since it serves no real function.
The game world itself is fairly large but not so much that I found myself getting lost. It’s littered with many ghost artifacts and various other things that can be collected. Most of these serve to give more background into Salem and its sordid, witch-burning past. There are also many ghosts wandering around, some of which you could help using your detective skills. There was something deeply satisfying about helping a lost soul find peace so that they could finally travel to the other side unburdened by whatever kept them in this existence.
Although he is a ghost, Ronan can be “killed” by demons. These manifest as either black pools on the ground that have hands sticking out of them or as actual demons that float in the world. After almost every single mission, demons would materialize and I’d have to hide from them until I had a chance to sneak up from behind and kill them.
The problem here is that the demons can detect you even if you aren’t running, so this caused a lot of annoyances where I’d have to run and hide inside of ghost… somethings. I don’t really know what to call these hiding spots but I guess they were tears in reality. The fact that these demon encounters happened like clockwork after completing every mission was probably the most frustrating part of the game for me.
I do want to bring up the fact that this is a retail game that costs $50-$60. While it is a solid title, I do think it would have been better off as a discounted digital title. Fifty dollars for the last-gen versions is a discount of sorts but that is still a steep price. The game is fairly short and, although it has a lot of collectibles, offers little replay value. I fear that people who would have ended up liking this game will be put off by the price point. If it was $30 and available digitally for all systems then it would have had a chance to reach a bigger audience.
Though it isn’t the flashiest game in the market, I enjoyed Murdered: Soul Suspect for what it had to offer. I could have done without the demons and some of the mechanics were hit and miss. However, the detective aspect worked nicely and I did feel like a bonafide gumshoe while working on cases. I fear that this game will get lost in the shuffle, especially considering its price and format, but it’s certainly a title that more people should be made aware of, even if it doesn’t make headlines.