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'Murdered: Soul Suspect' looks good on paper, but lacks execution

Murdered: Soul Suspect-slide0
Photo courtesy of Square Enix, used with permission

Murdered: Soul Suspect

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Murdered: Soul Suspect plays out much like an interactive movie. Developed by Square Enix and Airtight games, the game stars Ronan O'Connor, a detective with a bad past who seems to have a tattoo for everything he has went through. Set in the eerie, historical town of Salem, Massachusetts, there is a serial killer on the loose known as the Bell Killer. Ronan encounters the killer and is thrown out of a window. Ronan then has an out-of-body experience and attempts to get back into his body, but not before the Bell Killer comes down and shoots him to his death. This is where the game begins.

Detective Ronan and a demon
Photo courtesy of Square Enix, used with permission

You play as Ronan’s spirit (who somehow is able to smoke cigarettes in the afterlife). In an attempt to find out why he died so he can go up to heaven, you will encounter other spirits who are in the same predicament. Initially, the game seems interesting as you collect clues to help solve your case. You will explore the town of Salem as you track down the Bell Killer and help each other along the way. Collecting clues and piecing together the puzzle continues Ronan along his path. Unfortunately after a bit of playing, you will come to realize this is the bulk of what you will be doing. Repetition is certainly a problem with Murdered: Soul Suspect.

Ronan has the ability to possess people to gather information. He is able to influence decisions to help figure out cases. He can also use a poltergeist to make equipment malfunction. There is a problem with these three things, however. Possessing people usually ends up in pointless information 90% of the time when roaming around Salem. The best doing so may offer is giving an idea of what people are thinking and feeling, but usually this is repetitive and you end up skipping these tasks in the end. Poltergeists mostly go unnoticed unless there is a part that is intended to create distractions.

As a ghost, Ronan is able to pass through most objects. There are residual objects, however, that he cannot pass through. Outlines on the wall of where you have been are used as reminders to help eliminate back tracking. There are also floating spirit residual spots that are used to hide from demons. Encountering demons is the only thing that offers a challenge in the game. These things are scary looking and extremely loud if they locate you. You can cause distractions with other objects to help kill these creatures. You have to sneak up behind the demon as a quick time event is provided quickly. If you mess up, the demon will start hunting for you as you will bounce between hiding places. The demon can kill you, as this seems to be the only “horror” aspect of the game. Unfortunately, there are not a tremendous amount of encounters with them.

The motion controller is used to help select the pieces of the puzzle when solving the case. Sometimes it is hard to hit the far end of the screen with the controls. Strangely, there’s no consequence for messing up the puzzle other than a lesser score. There are also no consequences for using the wrong influences on a possessed person. Other than the demon encounters, there is really no challenge to the game. It purely wants you to experience Ronan’s story. Even though the atmosphere is eerie, the story is more of a suspenseful thriller than anything else.

Murdered: Soul Suspect runs on the Unreal engine and looks great for the most part. Player models are detailed, but some of the textures and smaller items in the background are not that detailed. The game runs at a constant 60 frames per second. Any flickering you see from items is actually intentional to grab your attention and not a glitch. The eerie atmosphere of Salem, Massachusetts is done really well.

To add to the look of Salem, the sound is fantastic to match the atmosphere. The ambient music helps to almost create a Silent Hill-like atmosphere, but unfortunately without the horror aspect. This game has the perfect look and setting for a survival horror title, but Murdered: Soul Suspect is no such thing. The voice acting is solid, but some of the interactions sound monotone and lack emotion.

Judging by the screens, people may think that Murdered: Soul Suspects is a survival horror title, especially with the pics of the demons. It is far from that, as it tells a solid story and is more categorized as a suspenseful thriller. The lack of challenge in the game and the redundancy really hurt the title in the long run. The game is more similar to the likes of Heavy Rain, as it seems like more of an interactive movie. While the game looks and runs great, it certainly will not be for everyone.

POSITIVES

+ Great graphics

+ Excellent atmosphere and setting

+ Inclusion of motion controls

NEGATIVES

- Game becomes repetitive

- Overall lack of challenge in the game

- Motion controls can be difficult to use

A copy for PS4 was provided