Murdered: Soul Suspect – Xbox One
Platform: Xbox One
Developer: Airtight Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: June 3, 2014 (NA)
Nerd Rating: 6/10
Reviewed by: InfiniteKnife
For all you JRPG fans out there, Square Enix needs little introduction. They’re behind some of the most enjoyable games in the genre, so you can surely understand my intrigue when Murdered: Soul Suspect showed up as a free title for download in the Xbox marketplace. Aside from it clearly not being an RPG, I didn’t know much else about it and decided to give it a go.
Murdered: Soul Suspect takes place in modern day Salem, known to many of us for its famous witch trials in the late 1600s. The main protagonist is a detective named Ronan O’Connor, who has been tracking a serial killer targeting women. The murderer is known as “The Bell Killer” because of the strange shape left at many of the crime scenes. At the very start of the game, Ronan faces off with the killer and is pushed out a window and shot to death, leaving him a ghost.
Soon after realizing he is dead, his deceased wife appears to inform him that they can’t be reunited in the afterlife until his business is completed on Earth, which Ronan takes to mean solving the mystery of The Bell Killer. The game takes Ronan through several locations including a church, mental institution, graveyard, and museum, each of which function kind of like their own levels. Ronan meets the ghost of a puritan girl named Abigail who shows him how to use his ghost powers like walking through walls and a living girl named Joy who helps with interacting with things in the physical world that need to be touched/moved.
You’re probably thinking something like “wouldn’t it make sense if Ronan could just walk through ANY wall, making boundaries pointless?” That would be an excellent question, but Square Enix had it covered. Most walls can be walked through, but any that have been “consecrated” cannot be passed through, which is a lot of them. Same goes for closed doors and windows on the exterior of buildings. Once inside buildings, there are fewer impassible walls, but the game finds another way to keep you out of places it doesn’t want you to go in the form of these creepy demon pits. They are basically puddles of fire with hands reaching out and can’t be crossed unless Ronan possesses a person and they walk across. At least they explain why certain places are inaccessible, which is more than I can say about most other modern sandbox games.
Possession is another game mechanic that is relatively new in my experience. Any person can be possessed, which allows Ronan to read thoughts in their minds, influence memories, and look through their eyes. He cannot control their movements, however. The looking and influence are needed to find certain clues to help push along the story, but the mind read is a bit of a waste in my opinion. Every NPC has a phrase they say but many of them are either repeated from someone else or otherwise uninteresting. The most fun part of possession is being able to possess cats which you can then actually control to be able to access certain areas and items. You can even make them meow. Awwww, kitty.
In each area of the game, there are places that Ronan needs to investigate to find clues to figure out the next part of the story. You look around an area and select key items and then select 1-3 of them to form a conclusion about that part of the mystery. Some are artifacts and others are recreated actions, but thankfully, there is a counter at the bottom of the screen to show how many clues are to be found and an alert to let you know when you’ve moved outside the investigation area so you don’t go crazy looking all over for things. The investigations felt a little bit like the ones in LA Noire, though much less detailed.
In addition to the clues, there is a huge number of collectibles in Murdered: Soul Suspect. The items serve a few purposes in the game, mostly to fill in Ronan’s back story, give history of Salem, and give you a way to put more time into your playthrough. The collectibles I liked the most in my playthrough were the specific collectibles in each area which included rifles, gas cans, and rifles. When all are collected, they unlock a specific haunting story that is connected to the area itself involving nameless characters. I feel like this added a little more depth than just your usual collecting. There are other things to collect like notes about The Bell Killer and drawings by Abigail’s ghost, but I didn’t make myself crazy finding them all.
There is no real combat in Murdered: Soul Suspect. The closest it comes is the stealth aspect which tasks Ronan with destroying demons that patrol parts of each main area of the game. They move along a set path and after being approached from behind, must be finished by pressing a combination of a direction on the left stick and A, B, X, or Y. If they detect you beforehand, you have to hide in these little spirit clouds in the area until they stop looking for you. Ronan can zip between them with ease, so these parts were more annoying for me than anything. The demons and the fire floor are the only ways Ronan can actually die in the game. I felt like this whole aspect of the game was pretty pointless aside from giving me another thing I had to do to progress.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is not all bad, however. Visually, it looks really nice and the music/sounds fit well with the atmosphere and overall feel of the game. I also liked the dialogue between characters during the main story and cutscenes. Overall length of the game is short, even after being stretched by all the stealth parts with demons and collecting all the things. I also found it to be pretty easy and lacking in replay value.
Again, I got Murdered: Soul Suspect as a free download with my Xbox Live subscription, so I can’t say I regret purchasing it, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend paying more than $20 at most as there isn’t really anything to do after the first time through. The development team tried to do something a little different than just pound out another re-skinned shooter and that’s commendable in this day and age, but it didn’t do enough to really wow me.
If you can get this one on the cheap and have about 8-10 hours to kill over a weekend, I’d recommend giving it a shot, but you likely won’t regret passing on it, either.
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