Murdered: Soul Suspect
Do you like ghost stories? Do you like ‘CSI’? Chances are you might enjoy Murdered: Soul Suspect then. You play a bad-boy (he’s got lots of tattoos and a natty vest) police detective called Ronan, hot on the trail of the ‘Bell Killer’, a serial killer loose in Salem, Massachusetts. Yeap that’s the place in America that had the famous ‘Witch Trials’.
Ronan has a lot of flaws you’ll uncover, but his biggest is he starts the game as a fresh ghost. That shouldn’t be a spoiler hopefully because it’s right there on the game’s disc cover and all the promo material. He spends the rest of the game being a ghostly detective, trying to solve his own untimely end, catch that pesky serial killer, as well as helping various other ghosts trapped around Salem along the way.
It’s a great sounding premise and Murdered: Soul Suspect could have done a lot with that. Unfortunately it mainly feels like a linear adventure game when you play it. The story is interesting, and does progress nicely with Ronan and several others being well fleshed out as characters. Ronan in particular is a likeable hard-boiled rogue with some great lines in the game. But things are strictly linear as he travels from place to place to perform ‘investigations’. In these you have to spend some time examining a scene looking for clues, in a way that feels quite similar to ‘LA Noire’s crime scene mechanic. Ronan can do a few more things than a live detective though, in that as well as finding clues you can also possess people to read their minds, and possibly manipulate them to reveal flashbacks or expose additional clues at the scene. You gain additional ghostly powers as the game progresses, but again strictly in a linear fashion that relates to the story.
There’s also some mild puzzle elements in the game, as Ronan needs to get around he’ll find the way blocked by various barriers he has to overcome using his abilities, or the abilities of people or a certain common household pet he can possess. There’s also hungry demons haunting the ghostly realm too. The demons seem quite threatening when you first encounter them lurking behind you early on in the game, but you quickly learn they’re pretty simple to defeat, or can be avoided entirely if you’re willing to simply run past them, and miss a few collectibles.
There are certainly various side quests you can do: collecting things hidden in each area you visit to unlock a ‘ghost story’. That seems like they might be interesting until you realise the ghost stories are essentially just the equivalent of ‘audio logs’ in other games. If you collect all the things you need you’ll get a couple of minutes of voice over telling you a story that relates to the place you found them and a trophy as well. There’s also historic plaques you can collect to learn about Salem, which feels like a nod to the Assassin’s Creed series, but again is just another collectible that doesn’t grant you anything useful in-game.
The town is a bit strangely realised, as Ronan’s a ghost he sees it as a mix of modern, overlaid with ghostly events from Salem’s past – which are mainly barriers to him. Being a ghost Ronan can wander through walls and furniture too which can make navigation an occasionally annoying challenge, particularly inside some of the larger buildings. The game camera can also get a little confused sometimes.
In the modern Salem there’s a bunch of live people wandering around who you can possess and mind-read, for no real reason that I could see. They only have a couple of unique thoughts each, and some of them are even repeated across different people. Scattered around the town as well, are a bunch of sorry and confused ghosts – who actually seem more lively than than the living. You can talk to all of them (boy some of them have some serious issues) and while most of them will just ignore you after that, there’s several that Ronan can help by performing an investigation that relates specifically to that ghost. These investigations work exactly the same way as the main story mechanic, but are generally shorter. These mini investigations add to the game, but unfortunately don’t grant you anything other than bit of extra content and the warm feeling of helping out a fellow ghost.
Overall Murdered: Soul Suspect is an interesting and occasionally cinematic story, but not much more than that. The story is also fairly short, consisting of only 13 chapters that largely equate to a large ‘investigation’ and several cut-scenes each, and has zero replay value once you’ve completed it. The side quest stuff consists of tacked on collectibles, and while you can help fellow ghosts there’s no real reason to do so, unless you’re curious about their story. The mild puzzle elements involved in getting around town quickly feel like chores after you defeat a few demons or possessed a few folks to get past barriers too.
If you’re a fan of CSI and ghost stories I think it’s still worth playing though – as long as you’re not hoping for any replay value. My wife particularly enjoyed watching my review play through – but then she’s a fan of CSI and ghost stories!
Reviewed on: PS4
Rating: M Contains violence and horror.
Reviewed by: Stu