We’ll admit, we have been intrigued by Murdered: Soul Suspect since it was first revealed. A new IP that looks like trying to mix genres is always going to be risky, but can this be a new cult classic, or will it find itself a victim?
Players take on the role of Ronan O’Connor, a former criminal turned cop, who whilst on the trail of the infamous Bell Killer, finds himself the victim. After being thrown through a window, then shot multiple times with his own weapon, Ronan discovers he cannot pass to the other side until he works out his unfinished business.
It is an interesting setup and with the game being set in Salem, it plays off many of the myths and folklore of the area. The early sections of the game could easily be a pilot episode for an AMC or NBC type series, needing to leave a little bit of reality at the door and buy in to the general ideas.
Ronan is a very interesting lead character and one that you instantly connect with. He is a little cliche and you know he was a former criminal by his tattoos over his arms, because as pointed out by another cop in the early scenes…That is a criminal thing. That aside though, Ronan is rough around the edges and despite having a decent moral standing, he isn’t perfect. Again something you would expect of a lead character in a TV series.
That’s the second time we have mentioned a link to TV and you may be asking why that is? Well there are two things that became obvious during Murdered: Soul Suspect. One, it is set up with an almost episodic feel to it, with minor cliff hangers after each area, before a bit of a reveal of where the story is going next. That and some of the additional ‘gamey’ bits felt a little out of place.
Because Ronan is dead and is now a ghost trying to solve his own murder, you get some very interesting mechanics that as a whole work really well. You can walk around a crime scene freely, find a log all the clues and then use these clues to possess and influence witnesses, cops and other characters to solve that area. Now, if the game was simply that and that alone, it would have been a nice game with a decent story.
That being said, it does fall down a little with some of the mechanics. Because you are sort of stuck in Limbo, there needs to be some kind of threat to keep you on your toes and here it is ghostly demons that seem to share a lot in common with the dementors from Harry Potter. These demons will stalk areas and if they see you, they will find you and suck your soul.
The issue here is that they feel completely out of place with the tone of the game and the usual slow paced and deliberate nature of crime solving. You can hide from them in trails left by other ghosts or sneak up on them to exorcise them. The problem is, that they just take away from the general pacing of the game and are more of a nuisance than anything. If they had to be written into the story, you feel there could have been a better way.
There are plenty of other things away from the main story-line though and these thankfully fit in well. Again feeling much more like a long running TV series than anything. Imagine something like House, or X-Files where each episode will have a side case to pad out the episode along with the main theme and you get the idea of what is trying to be achieved here.
It works too, the side cases in Soul Suspect are often interesting and help you to improve your own solving abilities. They are however completely optional and have no bearing on the overall outcome of the game at all, which is nice to see. You won’t want to miss them though, as they are worth playing.
The main game isn’t overly long at all and feels like it was set up to be a long running series, maybe in the episodic nature and to be quite frank, we’d enjoy a proper episodic game about the ghostly adventures of Detective Ronan O’Connor. It is a system that can work with certain types of games, such as Telltale’s output and Murdered: Soul Suspect certainly fits that mould.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is far from a perfect game, especially with some of the mechanics it has, that feel out of place. However the story and characters, along with the setting do a great job of entertaining and we’d definitely like to see more in the future.