Being a ghost is not always fun. Murdered: Soul Suspect makes this very clear and DTGReviews has taken to the task of finding out why...
My name is Ronan O'Connor. My story starts with my own murder and before I can blink, I have turned into a stylish and sullen ghost. It soon turns out that I will not be able to reunite with my late wife until my unprocessed transactions, ie, my death, been fully exploited.
In Murdered: Soul Suspect focuses on telling a good story and the immediate problem is that the script is not particularly well written. The protagonist Ronan is a walking cliché detective whose emotional substance mostly reminiscent of a cheesy puppy. There is also not enough with his own ideas to the premise to excel. At times he manages to keep me interested enough that I have the energy to invest me, especially towards the end, but usually I find myself indifferent addressed to the course of events. The story has its merits but is fundamentally anonymous and that applies to much of the rest of the package too.
Gameplay-wise, this is a mix between LA Noire and Beyond: Two Souls. The ghost can pass through walls, read people's thoughts and influence the environment around you in search of clues that will lead you to your killer sounds like a fun idea on paper, but the execution is extremely limited in that you do not get a lot of room for experimentation and there are rarely more than a predetermined solution to a problem. An example of this is when I arrested a person unseen from the police station. I have to distract the cops blocking our way through that like a poltergeist fiddling with electronic devices such as phones and printers in the office. Some of these items gave no reaction at all, while others certainly got the cops to scratch their heads, no matter how close they were to the objects I tried to catch their attention with. The result is a very controlled and sleepy experience where I did not even fed by the illusion of free will.
There are demons that need to watch out for but they appear rarely and are always easy to deal with. As the demons are such a small part of the whole package becomes my confrontations with them more of an annoyance than an exciting obstacles to overcome and I get the feeling that they are here just to give me anything resembling challenge.
The game is as I said very much out on that, as in the above-mentioned LA Noire, look for clues at a crime scene which you can then piece together to give the riddle in question together. Unfortunately, this is as simple structured that it is all about finding and evaluating all of the clues and identify which of them are most relevant to the case. There is also no challenge when you are simply using the process of elimination to determine which of the clues that the game wants you to pay attention. It is not punishing you in a meaningful way if you do not guess right away and you are free to blindly test you until you come on in the story. Worst of all are for sure how insultingly obvious most of the solutions are. At one point I'll point out, for example, two words that describe a painting of two girls where words like "brothers" is available as an option next to "two girls". Thus, it is never very rewarding to solve a mystery.
Murdered: Soul Suspect lets me choose what to say in certain dialogues like so many other similar games do. Here it is, for the very most, just a way for me to choose the order in which I ask my questions and not a way to shape the conversation that I want. It's strange because the game lets me in a few instances on the other hand choose if I want health friendly or bitchy at some of Salem's smaller living inhabitants. Why not go into a little heavier on a deeper dialogue system like Mass Effect or Telltale The Walking Dead? Just such a thing had done its bit to immerse myself further in my character.
Something I can not say much bad about, however, is voice acting. I would not say it's particularly impressive overall but it works better than the game's other components. Especially Cassidy Lehrman (perhaps best known from the television series Entourage) does a surprisingly good job as the initially defiant teenage girl Joy who seems to be the only one who can see and hear Ronan. Joy is also the game's best presented the character and offers a welcome contrast to Ronan woody personality. It's a shame that she can not take more space than she does.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is not a particularly neat game, unfortunately. The design is messy and do not really know what it wants to be, the environmental variation leaves much to be desired and technically speaking, it is in their worst moments directly ugly even on the new consoles. Outside of the cutscenes are additionally animations horribly stiff. Game World, the small town of Salem, never feels like a living place with residents, but is comprised of sprawling featured areas glued together without continuity. NPCs move erratically on rails without reactions to the environment structure. Yes, it happens that you see people walk right through solid objects such as walls, as if the game does not understand that all characters in the game are not ghosts.
One of the more successful aspects is side stories where you get to meet other expectant ghosts, and in some cases, help them to find out how and why they died. Although the game mechanical process is just as stimulating as during the rest of the game is these characters' stories fairly engaging, and it's quite rewarding afterwards to see them move on to the other side. One of these lost souls need to find out if it was he who sat behind the wheel of the car crash that killed him, for example. But small glimmers of hope that these do not outweigh the rest of the sub-standard content.
An interesting concept was a mediocre adventure and Murdered: Soul Suspect is in practice a game you should forget when it is suffering from an anonymous story, a lifeless world and crippling limited gameplay mechanics. It is a game that wants very much but accomplishes very little and is especially not fun to play. And while the ideas are not over-represented in the games medium they are far from unique in the rest of the entertainment world.