The opening scene to Murdered Soul Suspect, I could not help but be reminded of the Futurama videogame, in where Fry is killed while trying to obtain a hammer. In this instance this was used to explain the game mechanic of being revived and how you could die in the game but come back, in Murdered Soul Suspect being killed is quite simply that, it is not an explanation of the game mechanic it is just simply an introduction to the game and its many ideas. The whole premise behind Murdered Soul Suspect is really in its name, you have been murdered and so dying at the start of the game is an introduction to the game and how exactly things are done.
As far as story premises go this is actually quite interesting and using this mechanic does work to deliver a mystery with a difference. As a ghost you have series of different skills that are different from what is offered in other similar games, you are not just searching locations for clues that we can physically see, as a ghost we get a serious of abilities that allow us to do better when it comes to clues and search that little bit deeper.
Though as the story goes you are playing as Ronan a police detective who is on the search for a major serial killer called the Bell Killer when he is killed. This is where we enter the game Ronan is killed and while he wants to move on to the afterlife he is stuck in purgatory until he can solve his murder. Using this premise is where the game gets interesting Ronan must venture all across the town of Salem searching for clues that will lead him to discover the identity of his killer, from this point the story is quite interesting and notably I was happy with the plots twists and turns which honestly kept me guessing right until the very end, even the end surprised me.
It is sad though when the story is the best thing about the game, much of the ideas of the ideas presented often felt broken or in a lot of cases underutilized which is unfortunate. Even sadder is the fact that the game offered so much potential in its ideas. One of the key things that may bother a lot of people is the lack of freedom that comes from being a ghost, the constant argument that is present is shouldn’t you be free to go wherever you want, well this is never the case, Ronan’s ghostly abilities such as traveling through walls and into buildings are extremely limited but this is all explained by the games setting. For those know there history Salem is a special place quite well known for the witch trails and for a ghost story this does seem like the perfect setting, it is quick to explain the rules as you can’t enter buildings and other locations under certain rules thanks to the idea of consecration but I must say even with this being the case I was disappointed about the absence of freedom.
Likewise Salem misses a lot of other opportunities, namely the supernatural vibe of the location. I didn’t want to see points of historical torture, but the location just seems like one that holds a major historical presence in the form of supernatural occurrence and with in mind I found the lack of ghosts hanging around to be underwhelming. During my time in the game I only encountered three ghosts that needed my help and they were simple tasks relating to their deaths and likewise even with the small selection of ghosts I encountered hardly any of them had anything important to say. To be honest the supernatural presence in the game was just underwhelming and the most fun I had with a ghost was chasing one through a cemetery as part of the story.
Ronan’s ghost abilities are really under utilized all throughout, one of your main abilities as a ghost is the ability to possess people and read their minds and throughout Salem you can possess just about everybody and read most of their minds. While in theory this is quite interesting I was disappointed by the limited amount of things each person had to say which never really went any better as I got further in the story. Just like this I was also saddened by the underuse of other Ghostly abilities such as Teleportation within the story, it was only at about five times at best that I ever had a need for this ability. One of the few parts of the game I was quite attached to was the ability to possess and control cats, I always found this enjoyable being able to use cats to get into small vents unfortunately this idea was used only a handful of times and I felt it was an idea that had a lot more uses then it was given.
Similarly as a mystery the detective segments were also a bit on the easy side, in each of the detective segments clues were often easy to find and were basically always just laid out for me so I wasn’t really having fun searching rooms for clues. Just like this segments that required me to use clues I had found during my investigation to piece together the story of the scene, again it was rare I actually struggled with deciphering clues and the rare opportunity where I was having trouble it was sad that I didn’t really get any penalty for my mistakes or lack of attention.
At times I also found the game confusing and like it had lost its way in figuring out what exactly I was playing, during the early sections of the game it was easy enough I was playing a mystery game but as my time went on I found myself lost more in more in exactly what I was supposed to be playing. In one particular instance I was brought to a mental asylum and in a lot of ways I consider this an aspect of the horror genre, and in a lot of ways the area resembles this, it is creepy and on more then a few occasions I was made to jump out of my seat by certain events. Even worse is the demon creatures which made me constantly nervous about what was going on and feel like the stuff of a horror game, these creatures were ones that tried to steal Ronan’s soul and trying to avoid these creatures led to a lot of nervous moments which I personally only have ever found in a horror game. Of course demons are present all throughout the game as a general nuisance.
Murdered Soul Suspect is a game so ripe with ideas that you want to like it, unfortunately the real truth of the matter is outside of the actual story and setting there just isn’t really anything that works. The potential is there but it is just a mismatch of ideas that never quite make the cut and never really strive for the perfection they could have deserved, and that is the point there is so much that could have been good but that just isn’t the case the potential just isn’t used.