Format – PlayStation 4
Murdered: Soul Suspect is a strange game to place. Though it feels rather special on the PS4, it falls somewhere between AAA and indie, and rather rightly so too. If there was truly any one word to sum up Murdered, that word would definitely be “unique.”
Slightly reminiscent of neo-noir crime action-adventure LA Noire – and not just because he sports a rather fancy hat – Murdered takes the form of a supernatural thriller-come-murder mystery blended with investigative elements such as crime-solving and clue-hunting. You play as tattooed ex-criminal Ronan O’Connor who leaves behind his unlawful life to go straight and become a cop. This, in turn, initiates a power struggle with fellow officer Baxter (who’s a little bit of a jerk), and we learn all about Ronan’s beautiful relationship with love interest Julia, who has the misfortune of getting murdered somewhere around the start of the game. The backstory itself isn’t especially anything new or groundbreaking, and though it may seem like a somewhat standard opening to a video game, it takes a new direction entirely, with Ronan getting murdered himself whilst investigating his wife’s death.
I’ve mentioned LA Noire, and yes, though this game is strongly evocative of this and indeed other similar-themed crime games, it’s additionally something that feels a little more story-driven such as indie favorite Gone Home. One aspect of Gone Home that really fell short was the fact that it felt like it should have been a ghost story, but had no literal ghosties. Murdered takes that concept and drives with it hard, delivering a game that’s a full on mash-up of ghosts, ghouls, murder and mystery.
Upon his unexpected and unforeseen murder, Ronan finds himself trapped in limbo between the physical realm and the ghostly world, instead tasked with the burden of identifying his killer and coming to terms with his untimely death. A combat-free, mostly narrative-driven game, Murdered follows Ronan as he uncovers clues and pieces together memories in order to not only solve his murder, but tie some loose ends up along the way.
Poor, poor Ronan. Unable to wield a gun, he must rely on his supernatural powers to influence thoughts and possess other beings in order to work his way around a web of conspiracy. As you control Ronan, some walls and objects are consecrated ground, unable to pass through or across. Other areas are blocked by evil demons waiting to suck your soul away. Fighting demons requires some patience, considering it requires some quick reactive button presses (yay, QTEs) but it’s hardly anything overly challenging. Even more excitingly, Ronan can not only hear others thoughts and eavesdrop upon conversations, he can possess and influence others, even taking possession of their bodies. This includes animals, or at least cats, as on at least two occasions, Ronan must take control of a cat’s body in order to complete an objective.
Along the way you’ll collect clues, memories, and engage with other ghosts to solve their issues and help them “move on”. Eventually you’ll find solace in a young medium named Joy, who needs help to track down her absentee mother, so the two join forces in order to solve each others situational problems, despite Joy’s reluctance. Though Julia seems to be the focal point of Ronan’s disjointed memories, it’s actually Ronan himself who is struggling to come to terms with his untimely death. Before he can move on and be with his betrothed, he must solve the mystery of his own murder and uncover the identity of the “Bell Killer”, one such villain who is slaughtering young girls in all manner of disturbing ways.
Once Ronan has collected a certain number of clues, it’s then time to start piecing them together. This involves a spiderweb of images, with a clue to each picture; your task involves selecting the most important clue for each crime that seems to fit together in turn to tell a complete story. There’s only ever one right answer, but sometimes it feels a tad linear – again nothing is really all too challenging and it’s not altogether perfect. That said it feels a lot closer to real crime-solving than any other detective-themed game I have previously played.
The toughest part of the game is probably having to stealthily fight the malevolent shrieking demons, but even that is overcome rather easily with a little patience and some quick reflexes. It’s a very relaxing game overall, but in some ways this is definitely a plus, especially if you’re someone who loves to stop and smell the flowers. I loved being able to meander through walls, discover secret locations and meet estranged ghostly forms. Despite the absence of gun-wielding combat and random skirmishes, I didn’t really feel the game was lacking anything, and even enjoyed the overwhelming sense of powerlessness.
It certainly felt odd playing as the one thing that I fear the most – I’m someone who will absolutely crap themselves when it comes to the spiritual realm (Fatal Frame was no walk in the park) However, being able to see things from the other side made it a lot easier to sympathise with these poor lost souls, and I loved the excitement of solving their mystery and sending them on to better places.
It’s a short game, perhaps packing in around seven hours maximum upon total completion, and I wouldn’t really say it’s a game that holds much replay value. That said, it is a game that offers an interesting take on the mystery-solving mechanism and delivers an intriguing narrative-driven story with some enjoyable elements of gameplay.
The Good Stuff
- Nice take on murder mysteries
- Intriguing narrative
- Good characters
The Bad Stuff
- Perhaps some DLC wouldn’t go amiss, especially for those who have splashed out full whack on the full retail price.
- Auto-save points are few and far between; whole missions can be easily lost if the game is quit before it saves.
- Niggly little bugs that could easily have been avoided.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is a highly enjoyable game spliced together with popular elements of a mystery-solving, demon-exorcising, supernatural narrative-driven action adventure game, with little action and scores of adventure. Unfortunately for Murdered (and it’s criminally high price tag), some might see it as slightly generic in nature, and I can’t help but feel this is one game that will be somewhat criminally overlooked.
Technical Competency: 7/10
Graphic/Sound Quality: 8/10
Network Stability: N/A