It is very rare when game developers put out new intellectual properties (IPs). With the budget it takes to make a game, most developers don’t take risks on new, untested games, so that’s why it is exciting when one comes out. “Murdered: Soul Suspect” is a supernatural murder mystery, and it is an interesting departure for the RPG masters and makers of “Final Fantasy” Square Enix.
“Murdered: Soul Suspect” is a noir style detective story, but with a twist. Your character Ronan O’Connor, is a police detective who was killed brutally and now must solve his own murder to find peace and move on to cloud kingdom. The interesting thing about murder mysteries is trying to find all the clues you can and trying to put all the puzzle pieces together until you figure out who did it. I have never heard of a detective story where someone had to figure out their own murder as a ghost. That premise and the abilities you have at your disposal make playing this game very interesting.
There is a serial killer on the loose in Salem, Massachusetts, and the police are not finding any leads. Now, using your new ghostly abilities, you must see what the police can’t. Ronan has some really creative spirit abilities; he can speak to other spirits, he can read the minds of the living, and he can even possess people to act on his behalf. Finding your killer isn’t the only thing you have to do – you also have to battle demon spirits along the way, which helps to add some action to the methodical detective work.
The story of “Murdered” is the most important part of the game, and it is very well written. It is an interesting mix of a detective story and a ghost story, similar to one of my favorite movies, the Michael J. Fox hit “The Frighteners,” only with less comedic elements. In fact, it usually the opposite; the other spirits you talk to usually have sad and depressing tales and aren’t funny at all.
Most of the gameplay revolves around studying crime scenes to find clues, but none of them are hard to figure out. Sometimes the detecting segments can be frustrating because the clues don’t always stand out and are easily missed. Once you find all of the clues in an area, you must figure out which clues are important. This plays out with a mini game where he is shown pictures that contain the clue and you have to pick from them to guess the answer; they are childishly easy the whole game. It is impossible to fail no matter how much you mess up, and if you do, the game continues – you just get a lower score.
Ronan can’t use any guns or weapons, and sometimes he has to fight demons that feed on wandering ghosts. The only way to take them down is to sneak up behind them and stealth kill them with an execution move. Adding stealth elements makes very little sense, but it doesn’t get too frustrating because the demons are slow and incredibly easy to outsmart.
Not all of the interactions are ghostly. Ronan does befriend a living girl named Joy, who is a spiritual medium. Joy helps him interact with physical objects that he wouldn’t be able to manipulate as a ghost. Learning Joy’s story is another interesting facet of the story and adds some real depth to the characters.
Overall, the story and the premise is where this game really shines. “Murdered” is an interesting tale with some great twists and turns. The graphics are beautiful, the demons are terrifying, and the sound is haunting. However, the gameplay can get very tedious and frustrating at times.
In the fast-paced gaming landscape of action games and shooters (and a market full of sequels), it is refreshing to see a game that isn’t as violent and is trying to do something different. If you are looking for something interesting and new to play, then “Murdered: Soul Suspect” is worth a look if you can tolerate the mediocre gameplay to get to the great story elements. If you like detective stories, you will really enjoy this game, but if you want an action-packed game, look somewhere else.
-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]