Murdered: Soul Suspect is another game I was highly anticipating if for no other reason than it's original storyline. But is it a game worthy of investigating or does it deserve to be dragged to hell (much like that God-awful movie of the same name)? Well, like usual, let's find out...
Murdered: Soul Suspect takes place in none other than Salem, Massachusetts, and for good reason. You play as a detective Ronan O'Connor who immediately gets killed and is tasked with solving his own murder as a ghost. Along the way he meets Joy Foster, one of the only humans who can see and talk to ghosts, and together they must solve the mystery of the Bell Killer while simultaneously looking for Joy's lost mother.
On paper this sounds interesting, and would actually make a great movie. But in video game form it can be a hit or miss, depending on who you are. Murdered: Soul Suspect is in every way, shape and form, an investigation/mystery game. The core gameplay involves going from Point A to Point B, investigating a crime scene and then moving on once you've successfully solved the current mystery. It's like if you took the investigation parts of LA Noire and that's it and made a game out of them. Mix in some stealth, exploration and collectibles and you have a game.
Outside of the game's core element there are sections where you must stealthily avoid demons who try to drag Ronan's soul down to hell. If you're spotted you must hide in ghostly apparitions until it's safe to come out and try again. To take the demons down you must sneak up on them and... well, I'm not entirely sure what you do to them exactly but whatever it is, it works. Outside of this, you're free to explore the city of Salem, possessing people, reading their minds and looking for collectibles. You'll also see other ghosts and ghostly walls and structures that the humans can't see mixing with the normal environment. A lot of it is meant to halt your progress until you gain abilities necessary to progress. Some of your fellow spirits are recently deceased and confused about their current state. You can choose to help them find peace by investigating their death but this involves more or less more of the same investigation gameplay. One of my favorite aspects is that you can possess a cat, yes a cat, and use it to reach high ledges. You can even make it meow. That's game of the year material right there. But seriously...
Murdered: Soul Suspect, outside of having a pun for a title, has a interesting story. I actually found myself getting immersed in it. I'm a fan of a good ghost story and a nice murder mystery, of which this is both. You solve not only your own murder, but that of other recently departed denizens as well. Not to mention that every level has this age old artifacts and if you find all of them you are treated with a haunting tale that will send chills up your spine. The main story itself is an engaging tale with a few twists and an ending you may or may not expect. With only one human able to help him and the ever present danger to her by the Bell Killer, Ronan is tasked with more unfinished business than one dead person can handle.
For the most part the characters are engaging but it doesn't say much when the dead are more interesting than the living. Joy appears to be the only interesting human character. Ronan, however, comes across often times as a dick who's just using Joy to meet his own needs. He's a hard character to like at first but will eventually grow on you. Most of the cops are dicks and some of the dead are even unsettling, purposely stalking the living because they're mad and causing demons to appear from their negative emotions. It's a regular grab bag of colorful characters, some likable and some not on both ends of dimensional planes.
Murdered: Soul Suspect stands out in one more area, atmosphere. While it is not a horror game by any means it does provide a creepy and unsettling atmosphere in many ways, especially in the deformity of some of the dead. The town is misty, dark and too quiet. It certainly comes across as a place I'd rather avoid, much like Silent Hill.
Overall, Murdered: Soul Suspect is far from perfect but it fun in it's own rights. If you're looking for a high speed action game with guns and violence, this is not the game for you. However, you're looking a slow-paced murder mystery with a haunting atmosphere, you've come to the right place.
My Rating: 7/10