Salem, Massachusetts and Ronan O’Connor is a bad guy done good. Putting a life of crime behind him and then seeing his beloved Julia die, he makes a career for himself in the local police force. Now a cop, he has however just been thrown from a fourth floor apartment window and then filled with bullet holes for good measure. There is only one man that can solve his murder….Himself!
Murdered: Soul Suspect sees a unique idea be pitched to Xbox One and Xbox 360 owners. One that goes against all other games out there and throws some superb ideas into the mix. But does Airtight Games detective cum horror thriller deliver on it’s promises?
I’d love to say it does, but unfortunately Murdered: Soul Suspect falls down and dies a death, overdosing on a bad batch of frustration.
It starts off on a good foot. We’re very quickly run through a brief scenario showing how Ronan dies and how the killer escapes, but from there on in, we’re thrust into a world of investigations, possessions, demon hunting and crime solving. If you’ve played the Xbox 360 title, L.A. Noire than you’ll be right to expect the same kind of thing from Soul Suspect. The gameplay is as slow paced as you’ll find but whereas in Noire you always had a sense of why you were going about your investigations, in M:SS you’ll soon start happening upon ‘problems’ that just won’t go away; finding yourself wandering round in circles for far too long at a time.
The main objective is of course to discover more about the Bell Killer and ultimately solve your own murder. To do this, you’ll need to search specific areas with a fine tooth comb in order to establish clues, which in turn will set you up to be able to answer specific questions to complete that stage of the game. But the clue searching is horrendous and time after time I found myself searching every single nook and cranny of a relatively small room for any hint of help. The fact that unless you are stood EXACTLY in the right position for a clue, no prompt will pop up is more than frustrating and it’s this simple basic mechanic that becomes the defining infuriation point.
Personally I find next to no fun in going over the same damn thing time and time again.
After a number of clues have been found, you can go about concluding your investigation and this is where another random act hits home. The game will set you a question and you’ll need to pick one, two or three of your best clues correctly in order to move on. The questions are vague, the clues you find are vague and the whole conclusion thing is vague. There’s really no other word for it. Choose an incorrect answer and nothing more will happen other than you’ll get to choose again and again….and again, until you get it right.
If you are currently getting a sense of boredom, then you’ll be right. Other than a number of side missions and a load of collectibles that break up the monotony, you won’t find yourself doing an awful lot in Murdered Soul Suspect except for wandering around, clicking for clues; hoping and praying that the next room will have something exciting in. Airtight Games have obviously realised that this could get tiresome so have added a few demons into certain areas. These souls from the past will hunt you down and destroy your ghostly self but a few simple hits of RT is usually enough to find you sneaking past. You can if you wish go in to destroy the demons and this actions a quick time event, but again, it’s the most simplistic of QTE’s you’re ever likely to see in a game and will cause no difficulty to anyone who’s ever picked up a controller.
Murdered: Soul Suspect does bring something a little strange to the minds of experienced players. Due to the ghostly nature of Ronan, you’ll find that near enough everything you’ve taught yourself over your years of gaming will be thrown right out of the same window the Bell Killer pushed you from. Walking through furniture is now a gimme but it takes a while to keep remembering you can actually do this. The same goes for walls; once you’re in a building, the vast majority of it is yours to wander round. The only thing you cannot do is enter or exit a building except through an open window or door and this ghostly feeling fluctuates constantly between the ‘best thing ever’ and ‘nooo, I shouldn’t be able to do this’. It goes against all the set rules you’d normally find in a game and if you can get your head round it, makes for a nice change to the norm.
Possession is also high on your ghost ability list and there is real joy in taking control of a person, reading their mind (however dumb they may be) or influencing their actions in order to help you solve the case at hand. Like mentioned though, the other characters from Salem are pretty stupid; following basic routines and getting distracted far too easily by the teasmaid that suddenly throws coffee everywhere, or the photocopier that starts spewing paper out all over the place (POSSESSION FTW!). In fact, it’s much more enjoyable to take control of the local cats instead of the civilians….at least then you’ll get to do something worthwhile….meow maybe!
So Murdered: Soul Suspect….the story is okay and graphically it’s pretty decent too (it’s no next gen title though!), but the frustration you feel when trying to find that last clue or two will just pound everything good about the game into submission. Being a ghost isn’t easy and it can be as confusing as hell, but that’s not Ronans fault; it’s the damn clue finding’s fault!
You’ll find the exact same game on Xbox 360 as well as the one we have covered here on Xbox One, but the gameplay issues will no doubt be the same no matter which console you go for. By all means pick it up once it’s a little cheaper but don’t expect much more than a weekends worth of play out of it as the replayability is lacking.
Unless you’re after achievements that is….you’ll get them by the bucketload!