Published on July 15th, 2014 | by Joseph Saulnier0
Murdered: Soul Suspect
Murdered: Soul Suspect (“M:SS”) has the potential of a Hollywood thriller. The game has dramatic tension, unforgettable characters and an intriguing story arch — elements that seem to elude most developers these days. But is it enough to make this game worthwhile?
Airtight Games manages to nail these narrative marks with M:SS. The studio crafts a tightly knit plot focused on Ronan O’Connor, a police officer with a dark past who is murdered while chasing after a serial killer in Salem, MA. This is where the game begins, as the protagonist spends the rest of the time as a spirit. Over the course of the short-lived campaign, Ronan and a teenage medium, Joy, will have to figure out the identity of the murderer in order to stop the killings.
Being a ghost, as you will discover, means that you cannot consistently interact with the corporeal world. This is, obviously, a severe disadvantage, but there are some distinct advantages too. Ronan is trapped in a spiritual plane in which he can go phase walls, possess the bodies of people and animals and teleport short distances. As a police detective, he also has ardent observational skills and can make hidden objects or the residue of memories appear. He needs all of these abilities in order to investigate crime scenes, which will produce leads to find the killer.
All of this sounds like a novel idea, bursting with potential, the execution is flubbed. Scouring for clues can be an exercise in frustration, since they are placed with no rhyme or reason. What’s worse is after gathering leads, you must work with haphazard logic puzzles in order to answer key questions using clues you have discovered.
To spice up each section, adversaries called demons are added that hunt ghosts like Ronan and consume them. When a demon is encountered, you must sneak around and attack the demons from behind in order to eliminate them. It adds a basic stealth element to the gameplay, but like most of the campaign, it’s not nearly polished enough to stand out.
The M:SS developers tried to bolster the game’s replay value with collectibles that are littered throughout each level, but they ultimately feel tacked on (kind of like the door handles on a Nissan Z) and don’t offer that much by way of challenge. They just amount to a lot of busy work that distracts from the real star of the game — the compelling story arch.
The only other part of the game that was done well was the level design, which is definitely an important part of any game. M:SS has its moments, especially when you must figure out how to sneak Joy past guards, or how to get around demon pits that block your path. Some of the puzzles are clever, most are bland, and none of them can make up for the sloppy gameplay.
That is the soft underbelly to M:SS. The basic gameplay is so poorly done and clumsily put together that it makes it difficult for you to get good and deep into the plot. It could be discouraging for most players, but if you can stick with it, you’ll be rewarded with a surprisingly good finale.
2 stars out of 5