Murdered: Soul Suspect grabbed many people’s attention when it was first announced and even leading up to release, the game followed a simple concept of a detective named Ronan O’Conner solving his own murder using all the tools in his ghostly toolbox. This very idea was immediately interesting, it felt unique and like it could be a huge product allowing us a bigger amount of freedom, and even a new approach to investigating.
Unfortunately a positive outcome was not what Murdered: Soul Suspect had in store, the game wound up being panned by critics who hated that the game had a few bad glitches. They also hated the somewhat simplistic investigative systems, restrictive setting, and monotonous ghost mechanics such as the mind reading power. This wound up affecting the games public response with many not bothering to play the game, or hating it for their own reasons, and the fact that so many disliked Murdered: Soul Suspect is a shame as there is a good game here. From a critical perspective Murdered: Soul Suspect may feel lacking and broken but if you look deep into this game there are many positive qualities, and these are the points I will be outlining to give you a reason to give it a chance.
Even for the most flawed game there is always a positive that can be delved into, a moment or idea that makes even the worst game into something to remember and enjoy. Although lacking in certain areas Murdered: Soul Suspect still has many moments of quality that make this experience one that shines if you can look carefully, from certain moments, the overarching narrative, the character, and even the “flaws” which at times shine.
This is where the journey to find Murdered: Soul Suspect’s positive’s begins, one of the flaws that people highlighted was the games restrictive nature. You are a ghost so you should be able to go anywhere right? Wrong, without walls and restrictions where would the fun be, rules are the confines that add a level of appeal to a game allowing the story to be pushed along without ever venturing outside of our play zone. The restrictions also work as a highlight to our setting allowing a greater emphasis on Salem’s history with the supernatural, all buildings have been consecrated so spirits cannot enter or exit without a door or window being opened by the living. This inevitably adds guidelines to Murdered: Soul Suspect’s world and forces the knowledge that even the dead have no freedom and are stuck to a certain level of grounding whether by old buildings left as ghostly remnants or general structures.
All of this means the narrative can carry along at a brisk pace while also forcing us to only be able to gain access to a set location when necessary to the plot. There is no sequence breaking for the story and our freedom is only as strong as the doors open to us, and the same can be said about the world. Salem holds a lot of difference between its physical world and the spiritual world, fire, fences and destruction block our paths forward on most turns forcing us to only be able to go wherever the game allows. Murdered is not the free ghost adventure that people might have wanted, but the linear design that allows players to only go where they are allowed means the narrative becomes the focus instead of ghostly antics and an open world Salem which was clearly chosen for the historical restrictions to spirits.
The biggest highlight that offers people a reason to play Murdered: Soul Suspect is the games narrative, even if many of the games “unique” traits fall to the wayside one element that has strength was the approach to storytelling. Being asked to solve the mystery of The Bell Killer and bring yourself peace offers an interesting premise especially as a device to your characters evolution and ultimate redemption, as far as narrative driven experiences go Murdered offers some of the best character development in a game that I have seen. Ronan begins as someone who thinks he is invincible and acts haphazardly with no care for his own safety due to his past, and it almost seems as if he almost has a death wish. But soon must face his own weakness and rely on others in order to move forward and reunite with his deceased love, this all works to make Ronan a relatable guy who we see evolve with every twist and turn.
In terms of the narrative itself there is plenty of strength to the events which help to make Murdered: Soul Suspect a game worth playing, to be free and move on you need to solve your own murder and the narrative brings with it many twists and turns each building upon the fascinating story. Just when you think that things make sense and you are solving the mystery suddenly everything changes and a new perspective is presented which twists all you previously knew, and the obvious villain becomes just another pawn in the player’s way. Even better is the sudden twist that explains everything and changes the way that you view the entirety of the story, as everything falls into place the mystery builds plenty of excitement that overrules every flaw that came before it. This narrative is a saving grace for the game which provides the reason for a singular playthrough and shows that even in a game riddled with glitches there is a reason to continue.
Likewise there are many redeeming moments that build Murdered: Soul Suspect as something special, every location that we stumble across within Salem has its own story to tell and is exciting to visit. Although some of these feel like historical remnants each setting builds plenty of interest for the player offering plenty of insight into the world itself and the dark history that plays into the story, the fact everything feels purposefully placed is even better.
The way the game uses settings such as Asylum, a church, a cemetery, a witch trial’s judge house, and even a museum builds a lot in the story. A notable point is that each location is creepy and its historical significance adds a lot to seeing this side of the void, each is dark and sacred and makes use of Salem’s history to prevent movement and offer players interesting places to explore. Its notable the way the game uses places like the museum, the set piece is built over the old train tracks and this leads to a moment where we see how the ghost world is alive in lively locations. Seeing a train blast through the corridors added a lot to the experience, then dealing with the historical significance of the witch trials and all forms of the past added a certain dynamic.
Each major location builds a certain style which helps with the narrative and the overall ambience that the narrative quietly builds towards offering some great emotional moments. This works to connect Ronan’s history with the game world as well as the narrative as a whole seeing how every moment ties together to offer a believable and deep story which you want to follow through the dark and creepy locations.
In truth apart from the rare narrative inconsistencies, glitches, underutilized game mechanics, and a few other rare problems Murdered: Soul Suspect offers a short but sweet experience with many great ideas, and an enjoyable world that fully complements the brilliant narrative. Murdered: Soul Suspect is a game that clearly won’t appeal to everyone, and in looking through every segment of this game there were at least many redeeming qualities, the interesting and ambient locations, the central characters, excellent narrative, and world rules.
This game does not actually deserve a good portion of the criticism that it gets, while speaking critically the flaws can ruin the experience, but from a simple enjoyment perspective Murdered: Soul Suspect was a game that was easy to redeem especially when you want to try. I implore people to give this game a go, despite numerous flaws there are great moments and ideas that work within the confine and context of this gripping experience.