You’re dead – get over it and solve your murder.
Action adventure Murdered: Soul Suspect by Airtight Games and Square Enix, follows the ghostly footsteps of a Salem, Massachusetts detective with a shady past, Ronan O’Connor. He is a man who fell in love with the woman of his dreams only to have those dreams shattered. but the game begins with Ronan paying the ultimate price, by being thrown out of the top floor of a building by the ruthless serial killer The Bell Killer, who adds insult to injury by shooting and killing Ronan with his own gun. It’s a perplexing turn of events, leading to a journey with twists and turns along the way, through a series of situations, where retribution means gathering the pieces of a jigsaw to finally understand the big picture.
Playing the ghostly role of Ronan O’Connor will have players exploring his town of Salem, investigating the circumstances that led to his untimely death and bringing The Bell Killer to justice. Lying dead on the ground, Ronan soon realizes his fate and finally picks himself up off the ground, feeling the bullet holes in his chest that glow so brightly, and coming to terms with the fact he is no longer alive. The world as he knows it is gone, and in its place is a different world, part modern and part stuck in the past, filled with spirits, memories and things that are far more dangerous.
As a ghost, Ronan can explore the town using his new found ability to move through walls to enter buildings, although he is unable to pass into buildings that have been consecrated, putting boundaries on Ronan’s exploration. Most of the characters and crime scenes are nearby and there’s not a great deal of deep explorative gameplay involved. Your’ll collect clues, solve a mystery and move onto the next scene.
Ronan will come across many NPCs during his ghostly wanderings, both in crime scenes and going about their daily business, which you can interact with in a series of ways. Ronan can walk over and possess any of these characters, and a series of action will become available depending on their role in the investigation. Once inside characters, you can use peek to visually see and interpret what that character is seeing or has seen, listen to their thoughts, listen in on conversations and even influence their actions within the investigation by finding the right way to subliminally convince them.
The crime scenes are pretty atmospheric and project you into an eerie and unnerving environment, as you investigate and collect a number of clues to progress the story. The game is free-roaming, allowing you to explore surrounding ghostly buildings and structures within the limitations of the boundaries, but most of the time you’ll find yourself shifting through walls or teleporting to various key areas.
There are a number of mini quests along the way, which act as a welcome break from the main storyline, and these generally involve investigating people who have disappeared or died. Following these side quests is not essential, but it does a great job of fleshing out the world in which Ronan now finds himself, and builds on the creepy history of the town.
Moving through the story, you’ll eventually come face to face with demons who will want to destroy you. They pace around the corridors and hallways of the local buildings. Using the shoulder buttons, you can see where these demons are using some kind of ghostly x-ray vision, giving you enough time to move around them or kill them outright. Killing demons involves creeping up behind them and pressing selected buttons when prompted. If you don’t want to come face to face with demons on your journey, there is an option to hide in the shadows of former souls by flipping between them, making it difficult for the demon to find you.
Your ghostly abilities allow you not only to possess characters, but also poltergeist various objects within your environment, enabling you to proceed within the game. There are even opportunities to possess certain animals, allowing you to explore the world in a different way.
Your new world is in limbo, stuck between past and present life. It is both interesting and perplexing to exist in a world that no longer sees or hears you, but there is a good balance of interaction and abilities to keep the game interesting. The investigations will see you gathering clues from the scene and then working out which clue is relevant to answering the core question. Once this is completed, the investigation will be successful, enabling you to move the story along. Scattered memories can be recreated and transformed into a flashback scenario, allowing you to be fully immersed into the story as it slowly unfolds.
Visually the spooky environments of Salem enable you to feel the ghostly ambiance of the story, allowing you to flicker back and forth from the past and present worlds, whether hostile or tranquil. The game has a nice balance of interactive elements, although some puzzles and investigative settings can be a little repetitive at times. Having said that, the story as a whole warrants the need to explore further on your investigations. Ronan’s personality can be a little bit too swarve and narcissistic for his own good at times, and other times you genuinely feel sorry for the guy.
Murdered: Soul Suspect does it’s best as a great detective story, but feels slightly short changed when it comes to the game mechanics. Essentially, the noire style graphics create a suitably spooky environment to capture the attention. Investigating, problem solving and piecing together your existence may not be inspired, but all work well and result in a solid video game that offers a good experience to any good investigative detective.