Murdered: Soul Suspect is what I would describe as a paranormal thriller set in the town of Salem, Massachusetts. You play as detective Ronan O’Connor, a guy who knows the streets from both behind a badge and behind bars. You’re thrown out of a window by the infamous Bell Killer and fall to the ground beneath you before the killer manages to pop a couple of rounds into you to finish the job Soon after you find yourself stuck as a ghost with some unfinished business. The game evolves around Ronan as he tries to find the truth behind who killed him, helping lost souls reach the other side along the way. Players also find out about Ronan’s wife who’s deceased, the person Ronan most wants to visit once his task has been completed. The game has a genuinely interesting storyline, with several plot twists thrown in for good measure, I do love a good detective story.
The game is the outcome of Supernatural and any beloved cop show being smashed together as one. Ronan is the star player in this game and not long after playing you find a witness to your murder, Joy, a girl who can converse with the dead who becomes your living sidekick. The two of them set out on a journey to a) help Ronan find his killer, b) find out who the Bell Killer is once and for all and c) help Joy find her mother who has been tied up in previous investigations with the town’s police with her skills as a profiler.
The game plays out similarly to L.A Noire with respects to the detective gameplay, here you must gather evidence at crime scenes and side mission locations and come to a conclusion using what you’ve gathered. You don’t need to find all pieces of evidence at a location and can usually solve questions as soon as you begin to look or after watching a cutscene, there’s no challenge in most parts of the game and that deducts away from the gameplay a little. Sadly, there aren’t any penalties for getting answers or conclusions wrong, instead, you are demoted a badge in your performance review, none of this makes an impact on how the story progresses.
Alongside the main story, you can solve the deaths of several other ghosts, helping them to move on. Each side mission revolves around asking questions, searching for evidence or clues and then coming to a conclusion which you then ‘hand in’. Some of the side missions relate to Salem and its past, whilst others seem like random events to flesh the game out a little more. None of the side missions are particularly interesting bar one for which I had to use some brain power and some moving back and forth to do otherwise, they’re easy to complete within moments of starting.
Collectibles will take up most of your free roaming time, though many are placed in locations that are easy to find as you travel from point to point. Some of these collectibles tell a story about the Bell Killer, another reveal notes left by Ronan’s wife and some give you a general overview of the history of Salem and more importantly its Witch Trials, something which plays a major role within the story. History buffs and those who enjoy a little read between bits of gameplay will love the addition of these pickups, though for some it might not be worth the hassle.
Even though you are a ghost, you’re not completely useless. As you progress through the story you will learn new tricks such as how to teleport and remove some objects blocking your way into parts of the environment. Sometimes you will use these to progress the story and other times you will use them to gain access to collectibles, nothing more. They’re a nice addition to traveling around on foot using the same alleyways and side streets can become a bore after a while. Possessing humans or animals is another trick you will use throughout your time in Salem, allowing you to manipulate people, look through their eyes and get around Demons and other deadly creatures safely. Possessing a cat is something that I’ve always wanted to do, so at least now I can say I’ve done it, kind of.
The town of Salem is lovely to look at the first time around, there’s plenty of places to find and a handful of locations to visit. The world a mix of ghostly shadows of the town in a previous life and how it stands now, meaning there is plenty to feast your eyes upon for the first few hours of gameplay. After passing the first few hours of gameplay however, it can seem a little frustrating traveling past the same moments over and over.
Graphically the game holds up well, but I did notice a drop in frame-rate each time I entered a new location and just before a cutscene was about to commence. Whether this was an error with my hardware or the game itself, I’m not sure as I couldn’t test the game elsewhere. In addition, from time to time I would find myself getting stuck on pieces of the environment, or being allowed to walk through things I shouldn’t be able to – including fall through the floor and popping back up again in one location.
There is no combat as such in Murdered: Soul Suspect, instead you must dodge and weave between ghastly phantoms known as Demons. You are able to banish these eerie looking creatures by sneaking up behind them and pressing the corresponding keys, though this can be a hassle and in some cases, you’re best off just sneaking around them. To hide from them you can either use residues left by other souls and jump from one to the next, or you can be crafty and use your surroundings to your advantage, using rooms as cover. Demons can only see what’s in their line of vision and that doesn’t include what’s behind walls or other such surfaces, so your best bet to either sneak around the back of them or avoid them completely if you don’t want your soul sucked from your body. Being caught by one of these bad boys isn’t such a treat and escaping from them isn’t something you want to worry about, so try and avoid it.
There are also hellish looking holes in the ground, and if you get too close hands will appear and will attempt to drag you down into the depths of what I can only describe as an opening to hell. These are strategically placed in locations so you have to find other routes and are also used to block off locations you think you can’t travel in. Many times I found myself forgetting that I could walk through the majority of walls and other objects and around these hell pits.
Another positive to mention is the voice acting and the voice acting here is astounding, it is one of the best games I’ve played so far with such a high level of casting in this department. The characters are loveable and emotions feel true, nothing feels wooden or as though it is in fact being read from a script. From Ronan’s knowledgeable, deep voice to Joy’s teenage sighs and outbursts of anger, everything feels just right.
For all of its little problems, the game makes up for it in other areas.