Airtight Games’ Murdered: Soul Suspect is an interesting game at heart, attempting to mould many different ideas together to create something unique. Despite its shortcomings, the game manages to do just that, creating an intriguing story to follow, an haunting atmosphere to explore, and a mystery that I couldn’t wait to piece together.
Soul Suspect is very much a detective based affair and that’s set up right at the beginning of the game – within the first five minutes to be exact. The protagonist of the game, detective Ronan O’Connor, meets his demise swiftly after tracking down the mysterious Bell Killer, a brutal serial killer that the police have been chasing for quite some time. Instead of flying up into the heavens to reconcile with lost loved ones, he remains trapped in a purgatory-like state, unable to ‘move on’ because of the underlying question as to who his killer truly is. This sets up the game’s story, and from then on you’re tasked with investigating similar scenes and piecing together the mystery of who killed you.
Having the game set in Salem, Massachusetts was an excellent choice, as the creepy town manages to convey a slight sense of terror during your time in it and I enjoyed exploring the open world during the breaks between the main story investigations. Scattered throughout the town are various characters that you can engage with, and some of these characters often help further your investigation. Having the ability to possess characters and influence their thoughts, peek through their eyes and read their minds was quite an enjoyable experience and gave a unique approach to the detective side of things as well. On the other side of the spectrum, there are also ghosts within the world that you can talk to, question, or even help give closure to, and I enjoyed interacting with them just as much as I did with the living.
The actual gameplay in Soul Suspect is quite normal, as you’d expect from a third person action-adventure game. Trudging through the town was easy enough, and investigating the various crime scenes presented was a breeze. There isn’t really that much new here in terms of genre defining gameplay, and there doesn’t really need to be.
During your time in Soul Suspect, there are many items to collect, places to see and characters to help. Salem is such a creepy place, and during the times I played the game at night, the environment echoed a real sense of mystery and intrigue. The two-dimensional ghosts that appear in each part of Salem are equally as creepy, whether they’re standing with their fallen family, sitting in a playground or brutally hanging from a tree – the atmosphere is well established and makes for a genuinely creepy experience. Collecting various tid-bits throughout the game was a good incentive to explore the area as much as possible, and the various clues found within the game tell a number of other tales that were intriguing to read through as well. Things like Salem’s history and the eerie stories about the Witches were just some of the collectables scattered throughout the area, and I enjoyed taking my time to find as many of the collectibles as I could to get a unique insight into the history of the town and the people within it.
“Salem is such a creepy place, and during the times I played the game at night, the environment echoed a real sense of mystery and intrigue.”
While the world of Soul Suspect has you investigating scenes, piecing together various mysteries and helping ghosts get closure after their untimely death, there is an apparent danger throughout. That danger is demons – souls who’ve lingered for too long in their purgatory state. These life-sucking baddies are littered throughout the main story areas and the only way to take them out is to sneak behind them and exorcise them. If you’re caught in the act, they’ll attempt to suck the soul from you. The only way to survive this soul-sucking frenzy is to hide in the residue of ghosts souls and teleport between them (if they’re after you). I was surprised that demons weren’t apparent other than in the main story investigations, and I feel like the game would have been stronger if they had been lurking around the town as well.
After all is said and done in Soul Suspect, you likely won’t want to come back as there’s serious lack of replay value after the credits start rolling. The game very much fits in the ‘one playthrough’ category as there are no twists and turns to encounter on a second playthrough at all. Perhaps the only reason to come back would be to get the trophies or achievements missed within the first playthrough, but even they can all be attained in one playthrough if you have a guide in hand.
A surprising part to Soul Suspect was its sound and score. They weren’t necessarily an amazing addition to the game, but they each managed to convey enough to make the games atmosphere feel eerie and creepy throughout, especially during the more frantic sections of the game which involved copious amounts of demons lurking about.
While the game managed to convey an interesting story, sadly the voice acting wasn’t entirely well done. I didn’t connect with many of the characters, and even some of them managed to fall into the ‘stereotypical detective story’ category which was severely disappointing since the premise is so good. The second lead in the game wasn’t convincing enough performance wise and I didn’t really care about her goals until the last 30-or-so minutes. The game also felt a little too short, clocking in at around eight hours (even after looking for collectibles) and the most frustrating part of the game was the lack of a map (or a mini-map for that matter) – making Salem quite confusing to navigate through during the latter part of the game.
Negatives aside, Murdered: Soul Suspect is not a bad game at all. I enjoyed progressing through the story and piecing together various fractions of evidence and the pay-off at the end was quite good. There are various twists and turns to encounter throughout and exploring Salem was quite enjoyable, minus the fact I got lost a multiple times. If you’re into spooky detective stories, I’d absolutely recommend this game. It’s not going to win any game of the year awards, but it’s an intriguing experience to venture through at the very least.
Developer: Airtight Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360 & PC