Murdered Soul Suspect was recently released by Square Enix and was developed by Airtight Games. The game is something of a murder mystery, one to rival Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Morse maybe. One thing you have to say about this game is that it really dares to be different in a world of automated yearly releases. You play as criminal turned detective ‘Ronon O’ Connor’ who is on the hunt for a killer. This is no ordinary killer, it’s a serial killer, and his latest victim is you!. Yes that’s right, you get killed right at the start of the game, instead of saving the world and dying of the last bullet fired, you are murdered in the most blatant way. Now you are a spirit trapped in between worlds unable to travel to the next without finding out who murdered you in the first and why.
Murdered Soul Suspect takes place in Salem, a vision of the famous town best know for it’s witch trials of old, and there is definitely something supernatural going on. Salem is full of the spirits of an age gone by, and is also a mine field of information – finding clues and figuring out where to go next is the whole premise of the game. Upon investigating the scene of your own murder you are presented with clues to collect and find, this is simple and continues to be so throughout the game. However, some clues are based on you piecing this information together to discover more. The game allows you to have as many goes as you like in order to do this, however I found it incredibly easy to find and decipher all of these right the way through my investigation. All of these clues can be found in different forms ranging from objects on the floor, to eaves dropping on conversations by possessing individuals. Possessing people can also be handy to manipulate them into doing things such as moving their hand off clues or taking a quick peek at their notes.
Being a ghost you expect certain privileges, and some of these are covered in the game, walking through walls and objects, possession, teleporting, and basically going around unseen by the living. That being said, Murdered Soul Suspect is not the go anywhere type of game, and instead keeps you on a fairly linear path throughout. It seems that Salem’s buildings have all been protected from the afterlife by some kind of blessing, meaning that you cannot simply walk through the front door and rummage through drawers. Instead, the building must be open, or in some cases, you can possess a certain feline companion to help you gain entry. I do think that the developers have laid out too many restrictions in terms of what the town of Salem could have offered gamers, and instead opted for an approach that while intriguing, leaves you feeling like you are running between action sequences. Of course, you have the usual array of collectables to find along the way, but it could have been so much more, so much so to the point of frustration.
While you are going from one scene to the next you will come across conveniently placed side missions by chatting to the other spirits. Theses are handled much in the same way the entire game is, find the clues and help the lost soul travel into the light. Being honest, they are distractions to make the world of Salem feel more open than it actually is. Enemies are also thrown in for good measure and appear in two ways. You have hell holes as I called them, which are demon pits dotted across the maps, stepping into one of these will see your soul dragged to hell kicking and screaming. The other force are patrolling demons, who if spot you will attempt to suck your soul into them damning you to an eternal life of fire and brimstone. The pits are quite easy to avoid, just don’t walk in them! The demons, however, are slightly more complex. If spotted, you will have to hide in things called ‘dusk tears’, moving from one to the other is advisable as you can still be seen in these once the demons are alerted. These encounters are frustrating to say the least, and even more so when there is a number of them patrolling the one area, but you can vanquish them by sneaking in from behind.
Graphically the whole game is uninspiring to say the least. While there is some good mood and lighting effects, the animation and textures used are not up to the new generation standard in any way. I found many issues in the cut-scenes, and the characters are poorly rendered and textured. However, Murdered Soul Suspect does have an extremely engaging story, one that has twists, turns and moments of WTF just happened?!. The addition of Joy, your living helper, made the whole thing seem more believable and added depth to the story.
In the end, Murdered Soul Suspect tried to stand out from the crowd and tried to bring gamers new ways of enjoying their hours spent in front of their favourite platform. It succeeded in certain ways, but failed on the most fundamental by delivering something that just did not live up to expectations. We have a brilliant story surrounded by frustrating moments, a linear world and sub par graphics. One thing I do have to admit, is that once I finished the game it left me wanting more in a strange tormented way. I wanted to delve deeper into Salem and it’s seedy past of setting accused witches on fire at the stake. Murdered Soul Suspect could have been that more I was looking for, but sadly is was not.