In Murdered: Soul Suspect, you are expected to explore, investigate and solve your own murder – a tall order for anyone who just witnessed his own murder through an out-of-body experience. The real mystery is in figuring out just what is the game trying to be as a final product. Developed by Airtight Games and published by Square Enix, Murdered: Soul Suspect does more than a few things right and then turns around and whiffs in other areas.
Seeing a demo at last year’s E3, I left feeling excited and interested in Murdered: Soul Suspect. Here was a game that was obviously trying to get away from the norm and take the ideas of investigation and narrative in a new path. That is not to say Airtight strayed from that ambition, it just felt at times they could have done more.
I would say there are really 5 aspects to the game play in Murdered: exploration, investigation, Joy time, combat and cat adventures. Every chapter of the game has exploration in it. You walk around picking up different kinds of collectibles in order to give you more background story about the game. The collectibles are not overly difficult to discover and the best part were the “ghost stories.” Each area had a specific collectible in it that when all pieces were collected would have a creepy story told that were the most interesting narrative aspect of the game.
The investigations were definitely a sore spot with me as I expected more of a challenge. You would walk in to a room and the game would tell you how many clues there were, so you just investigated everything on the floor until you had all the clues and then you had a screen you had to choose the most relevant of the clues to further the story. But there really wasn’t any consequence for choosing poorly, so while I didn’t always choose correctly, I never worried about it because I could just guess again.
Joy time may not have been the deepest part of the game play, but every moment felt real. This was the strongest element in the game. I really appreciated the relationship between the main character, Ronan, and Joy the young lady helping Ronan through his quest. Though some of the writing for the relationship points felt forced at times, there were plenty of other times the bond was evident from the dialogue. They used Joy as a means of exposition and most of the time, it works well.
The combat is by far the most pointless, frustrating aspect of the game. I understand that with the possibility of the demons sucking your soul away, there would be no element of danger, but honestly, it really isn’t necessary. The environments and ambiance in the game are fantastic at delivering a spooky experience that having to fight the easily-discernible patterns of the demons felt like futile gesture to add a sense of mortality towards a guy who was already dead.
Lastly, the parts I call “cat adventures.” These were just sections where you had to possess a cat in order to traverse vertical spaces or reach hard to get places or a reason to separate you from Joy. At least they gave me a Meow button to press. This was an amusing distraction compared to the sections of combat.
Overall, Murdered: Soul Suspect is a fun and interesting experience. I know this reads like I’m ragging on the game a lot, but it’s more from the disappointment I felt. I just wanted more out of it. I wanted the investigations to challenge me on an intellectual level. I wanted to delve more into the life of Ronan, his relationship with Joy, his wife and his brother-in-law Rex. I wanted the areas like the makeshift hospital for the yellow fever outbreak in the past have significance and a side mission. There were just so many great opportunities that I wished they had done more with it. While I enjoyed the game, I would recommend holding off on buying this title immediately unless you are really into this type of investigation/exploration game.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is out now on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Murdered Soul Suspect Trailer
Murdered Soul Suspect Gameplay