This article has been archived and may have some errors due to a previous design of MGL. None of the review has been altered however. You’re dead, a Ghost in Salem Massachusetts following a brutal kill by a man known simply as The Bell Killer. But death was not the end for Detective Ronan O’Connor who has unfinished business and is left trapped in the world between the living and the dead.
Murdered Soul Suspect does not mess you around, you witness your death right off the mark and you are a Ghost from then on. The Bell Killer is on the loose having killed you and while you can go to the light, you can’t stay there. Something in your life is left incomplete and you have to solve it. Lucky enough for you a ghost explains that your strengths in life become gifts in the ghost world so all your investigative powers become stronger in death. And this really helps!
If you are an action junky, looking forward to blasting up some ghosts then this is maybe not the game for you to consider here. This game is very much narrative driven based around exploration, figuring out events from clues and doing your best to avoid demons while learning about people’s stories. Besides, what good would a fist or gunfight really be when you are dead?! Of course things happen in the story that will get your blood pumping but this is for a market of people who like story and exploration over action…
Those people reading this… you are in for a very good experience here.
Look & Feel
Look and Feel
Salem is perpetually dark and atmospheric and the mean character has a ghostly shine while living characters are animated nicely and look nicely designed. I reviewed this game using the PlayStation 4 version, kindly provided by Square Enix, and while I can say the game looks nice, it’s not much improved over last generation games. That being said, lighting effects and facial expression on the main characters are really well animated and do well to convey the emotions the character is feeling, particularly the main characters.
While not to the levels of Rockstar’s L.A. Noire, facial expression and body language used in scenes helps the emotion element of the story massively and that is what this game is all about after all. It’s a shame that the NPCs are a little flat and generic in comparison, especially when you consider the town is not exactly awash with people. All the locations you visit: The cemetery, A church, the town centre of Salem and all the others, create a very dark and creepy atmosphere which adds in to the demons that roam certain areas by devouring your soul should you get in their eye-line.
The graphics and presentation give you a solid platform to get into the game with well designed areas and menu systems that keep you engrossed in the plot. There are some negatives that break the immersion however, should you have your soul eaten or go into a large area, loading times feel a little over long in a game that is based on its immersive principals. There was also the occasional frame rate issue in the bigger areas when the game was loading and saving, but nothing that a patch would not be able to fix.
Story and Characters”]
Story And Characters
This is the area the game needs to be at it’s strongest to compete on the market and thankfully they have done a fantastic job of it. You can see in every step of the way the story is building around you, much of it is down to you to explore and expand as you go since there are a number of side cases and memories to collect as you explore the city and the areas you visit.
The story is one of solving what is going on with the Bell Killer cases, brutal murders taking place across the town, the most recent one your own. Now, this game hits pretty much every ghostly cliché in the book: An old Church, Cemetery, Mental Hospital and creepy haunted houses; this game is really painting a traditional picture here. But you actually won’t mind it since the story is well written, the plot moves on smoothly and each area has it’s own interesting past for you to discover.
Both the characterisation and voice acting of the main characters is well done, Ronan plays a good lead and maintains that cop swagger even in death as he puffs on a ghostly cigarette and thinks about the crimes. There are moments in the game where interactions between characters are so well done you can actually feel the emotions of the situation and genuinely feel sorry for the victim, one in the cemetery in particular was a tough one.
In the wake of Ellie in The Last of Us it’s hard to not draw comparisons when presented with a similar character, but the character of Joy brings a nice balance to the cop like personality of Ronan who is good but on his own may have gone stale while has a touch of Ellie to her. With her attitude to bounce off the scenes where they are together are very well done and the interaction between the two of them is very enjoyable to watch. Other characters play their part but seem to vanish for long periods at times then suddenly be back so this can be a touch unrealistic.
One thing that the story does lack is being able to make mistakes in questioning a witness or investigating a scene. It would have been good to see a different series of events based on me getting things right or wrong rather than just allowing you to try again but getting a lower ranking score.
But on the whole the story is excellent and you will feel compelled to find the answers to the mystery of the Bell Killer as you find out more and more during your investigations. And no matter how much you think you have it figured out, the ending to the game will catch you out and, for me is a very good one too.
This is the deal-breaker with this type of game and while the game is a lot more fluid than Heavy Rain it’s certainly in that mould. It also bears a big resemblance to L.A. Noire in the investigations side of things. You will generally find yourself in an area with something to investigate: A murder scene (your own in fact!), a hide away for a witness to your murder or even the scene of a tragic car crash.
There are so many to list them but the basics are the same, you get evidence together like a living detective… but of course you are a ghost and there are certain benefits. You can reveal imprints on the room, an echo left from strong emotions, and from that deduce what you can from their state of mind. There are also victims around, dead ones at that, so why not question the dead person? What living Detective can do that?
Questioning is OK and gets you though the story of course but there is no real consequence to the questioning which is rather disappointing. All you do is ask the same questions in the order you choose, asking one particular question does not block another if you get it wrong, if fact you can’t get it wrong.
Demons add a layer of nervousness to the game and also provide a challenge as, being a Ghost it, would be rather easy to walk through all the walls everywhere and go where ever you want. But with the Demon threat and the rules you have as a ghost, it involves some planning and thinking to get where you need to go. Doors and stairwells are blocked with demonic, soul sucking whirlpools which you simply cannot cross… unless you possess someone.
Using items in the environment you can manipulate people to go the direction you want them, or possess a cat and control it completely or perhaps you can get another route. All of these make for a thoughtful gameplay experience that is different from the other games on the market. Gone are the very oddly formed or overly elaborate puzzles to solve with statues or aligning light beams, it’s all about the rules of being a Ghost.
Since being a Vampire changes rules from one story to another the team at Airtight Games decided to set some of their own about being a ghost. Mainly, you can’t just walk though a wall into someone home, you must enter through an opening such as a window or follow someone in the door. Once inside, walk though things at will. Then there are ghostly remnants of events from the past that can provide a blockage along with the Demons. For me, I thought this worked very well and made me think slightly differently to how I would normally which is always a good thing.
This is a tough one as the game is what you make of it in a way, you can fly through the story if you like but then you would miss a huge chunk of the game’s other investigations and story-lines, giving you the need to play it again. Or you can be like me and explore every nook and cranny for every tiny remnant of evidence and collectible items. What I did find was I felt compelled to find everything, while I’m bad for this in games admittedly, I wanted to help the lost spirits around the world and find out the stories of Salem dotted around.
With Murdered Soul Suspect you are looking at 10 hours to get through getting a lot of the collectables and considering the game is coming in a few £ cheaper than other next gen titles it seems a fair deal to me. Would I go back through the game again? Well yes, but unfortunately you can’t New Game + and keep the collectables you have found so you must either get everything before heading to the final confrontation (when you figure out who the Bell Killer is).
If you whizzed though it and got lucky with getting past the Demons and other blockages like a ghost train, then you might get to the end sooner but you would miss a lot of the story elements of this game and, well that’s the reason to get the game… right?
Murdered Soul Suspect is a good game, story and experience to play. There are some parts that could have been added but still, as it stands this is a very enjoyable game that really makes you want to stop this killer before someone else is harmed. While the gameplay is better than a Heavy Rain or Telltale game, this really is that type of experience so will not appeal to everyone but for those into a narrative driven experience, Murdered: Soul Suspect is well worth your time this summer.