Salem, Massachusetts will forever be infamously remembered for its notorious witch trials. It’s one of the most haunted locals in the United States, believed to be rife with souls trapped by the horrors of paranoid executions and witchcraft. It’s also the stage for Murdered: Soul Suspect, the new murder mystery game from Square Enix.
• The Story – In Murdered: Soul Suspect, you play the role of Ronan O’Connor, a Salem PD detective with a dark past who turned his life around, on the trail of the Bell Killer, a serial killer haunting the streets of Salem. The two meet when Ronan gets the drop on the Bell Killer and a scuffle ensures. Things don’t go to well for Ronan as he’s disarmed, beaten, pitched out a second floor window and shot seven times. But as the Beastie Boys once said in the song Paul Revere, “you think the story’s over but it’s ready to begin,” as Ronan must now track down his own killer as an unarmed intangible ghost. It’s like the movie Ghost mixed with L.A. Noire, minus the boring Cole Phelps interviewing a new person every 5 minutes and bereft of any pottery wheel scenes. Your only help is a young medium named Joy who was at the scene of your murder trying to solve a mystery of her own by trying to find her mother. Together, the unlikely duo form an uneasy alliance to track down the Bell Killer and find Joy’s mother, unraveling some of Salem’s dark secrets along the way.
• Gameplay – This is what I think was a major selling point for me, but will also be a major deal breaker for a lot of people: the only combat in the entire game is the occasional execution of a demon which involves sneaking up on them, hitting RT, then left stick in on direction an a face button. That’s it. If the demon sees you, you have to run or hide amongst a series of spread out spirits. No shooting, no punching, nothing. Where this might get annoying at times, it makes sense. You’re a ghost.
What you can do is jump into people to eavesdrop on conversations, read thoughts, look at POV evidence, and use people as vessels to traverse areas of clawing demon hands. You also have limited line of sight teleportation, Reveal, remove, and you can use poltergeist on most electrical objects you come across.
You use these powers to investigate crime scenes to unravel to circumstances of your own death as well as to help other ghosts you come across solve their own deaths. It’s essentially a police procedural puzzle game. You search crime scenes for clues and put them together in order to solve each scenario. It’s a breath of fresh air in a videogame market saturated with FPSs or 3rd person open world adventure games. It’s a very linear game, but that’s not a bad thing.
• Graphics – Salem itself is well rendered. It’s a lot of samey cafés with ghost patches all over it, but it isn’t hideous, just repetitive. Really well done rendering on main characters. Highly detailed & memorable. Anyone else in Salem? Please pick from these 4 character models with palette swaps. Ghost world effects are neat and really kinda eerie in some places. You can see ghost families or hanging figures from a distance that vanish when you get too close. This ads a real feeling of being in 2 worlds at once that helps immerse you into the game’s world. However, the Demons are red & black Dementors from Harry Potter. Did it inspire me to make Team DBAH hooded bathrobes for the cafepress store? I’m not going to say it didn’t inspire me to make Team DBAH hooded bathrobes for the cafepress store. Anywho, moving on…
• Glitches – Oh the glitches. On the 360 version, there is tremendous slowdown when running. Every time. Also there are lots of clipping through environments & getting stuck. I had to restart about 4-5 times because I got stuck in game environments. While not a total deal breaker, it does take a LOT of patience to get through it, as it can get really taxing as the story goes on.
• Final Verdict: For a new IP, this was a very ambitious idea. It has a
like-able main character and it wasn’t just another 3rd person action game. It could’ve used a lot more polish, in both the graphics department and to fix the glitches to make it better to look at & more enjoyable to play. It was a pretty original idea and that in itself was such a relief. As far as the story, look and feel of the game? I’ll sum it up like this: Murdered: Soul Suspect felt like the rare good SyFy channel made for TV movie. You could see the zipper on the monsters suit and the crew was visible in some scenes, but the story was better than you ever expected and you had a great time watching it. While it’s not going to win any game of the year awards, it’s the start of what could be one of the new IPs to watch and I had a good time playing it.
Murdered: Soul Suspect from Square Enix gets 4 shots to the chest out of 7. And always remember, I never trust a review that I didn’t write. People have their own opinion and this was just mine. Rent it or buy it and let me know what you think in the comments. Thanks for dropping by and Don’t Be A Hero!