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Murdered: Soul Suspect review

Mediocre
AT A GLANCE
  • Interesting dynamic between Ronan and his sidekick
  • An immense amount of backstory revealed through collectibles
  • Impressive visual effects on PS4 and Xbox One
  • You can't fail at solving the case, most solutions are simple, and combat is tacked-on
  • Bugs and a lack of polish permeate the game
  • Very easy to get lost without a true in-game map

A good mystery should keep you guessing until the very end. It should deliver a solution that defies your earlier instincts and speculation, while also making complete sense. Murdered: Soul Suspect does keep you guessing until the end, but for the wrong reason. You'll wonder if and when Soul Suspect will transcend issues like inconsistent clue-discover, tacked-on combat, or a general lack of polish, to just let the interesting core mystery really shine. Well, I've got a spoiler for you: it never really does.

Soul Suspect's fate is a sad tragedy because it tells a somewhat engaging story with a few likeable characters. Fedora permanently fixed to his head, protagonist Ronan O’Connor is an interesting lead--and the fact that he dies 30 seconds into the game helps jumpstart the intrigue. A reformed criminal-turned-cop still facing plenty of strife, Ronan is unable to move on from his ghostly state and reunite with his deceased wife until he finds out who killed him (and numerous other citizens of Salem). With ghostly powers that let him speak with fellow spooks, inhabit the living to read their thoughts, and look back in time when encountering spirit-infused items, it’s an interesting-enough premise. Sadly, the fact that he’s unable to communicate with common folk makes for some lonely stretches of story.

Fortunately for Ronan (and the player) the introduction of a sidekick early on adds a bit of heart. The duo is thrust together out of necessity, and they help each other when convenient, but each ultimately has their own best interests at heart. It's the beginning of what could be a friendship, but the adverse circumstances aren't very conducive to it. It's not a budding romance, a faux-parental relationship, or a fast friendship. It deserves some commendation as it is what will drive you to solve Soul Suspect's underlying mystery. 

MEND THE END GAME

Before starting Murdered: Soul Suspect's final encounter, you'll be warned that you'll no longer be able to search through the city of Salem. Take heed of that note; once you commence the final chapter (which is criminally short), you'll lock that out, with only the minutes-long conclusion playable at that point. If you can transfer your data to a new device at that point, it's highly recommended that you do that.

Investigating crime scenes and other areas of interest makes up the majority of Soul Suspect's gameplay, but it suffers from some prominent flaws that will stifle your investigations. For one thing, finding clues is often akin to finding a needle in a haystack; some won't pop up until others are discovered, leading you to comb a particular area dozens of times. This might make sense if the first clues you found were critical to the next batch, but more often than not it's just the game's unwillingness to show them all at once. The unfortunate side effect is that you'll overlook what should be an obvious location of a later clue and waste time scouring the entire environment because it wasn't marked from the start.

The bigger issue at play here is the fact that the crime-solving isn't very interesting, since there’s not much to actually solve. You don't need to find every clue to progress (only enough to guess the solution). What's worse, when you're asked to decipher clues to determine Ronan's next move via a deduction minigame, you can make as many wrong guesses as you want. An on-screen indicator suggests you have a limited number of guesses, but it never drops to zero, and there's no benefit or punishment tied to your performance. The only thing with a hint of consequence is the line of questioning Ronan delivers to various witnesses; a good portion of the conversations you'll have will arbitrarily end before you have the chance to ask every possible question, though it doesn't seem as though the game plays out any differently based on what you're able to ask.

Soul Suspect does include some semblance of combat and stealth segments, but both feel tacked-on. Some of the buildings Ronan explores are patrolled by demons that have the ability to banish him to hell should he be discovered and attacked. However, find a nearby designated hiding spot to teleport into, and you'll avoid the fatal gaze. If you sneak up on a demon, a quick button prompt will execute it--unfortunately, these interactions are annoying filler. They never get any easier or harder to complete, and because there's no nuance to combat, they're never very rewarding.

More Info

Release date: Jun 03 2014 - PS3, PS4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360 (US)
Jun 06 2014 - PS3, PS4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360
Genre: Adventure
Published by: Square Enix
Developed by: Airtight Games
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol

Even if you're fine with Soul Suspect's mediocre gameplay, you'll tear your hair out once you get lost for the 20th time. When you're in an interesting area like a museum or a police station, it's easy to remember where to enter, exit, and find noteworthy items. When an environment lacks personality and every area looks alike (such as a drab old mansion or Salem's repetitive streets), the lack of clear boundaries is a curse. Because Ronan can walk through most walls, Soul Suspect is often in want of a directional tool, but there isn't even an in-game map. Be prepared to check online solutions regularly.

Despite gameplay shortcomings, Soul Suspect is very attractive on the PS4 and Xbox One. Ronan, his sidekick, some of his more frequent spirit companions, and a few of his cop co-workers have a nice level of detail; they're expressive and well-animated. Similarly, some of the ghostly visual effects are otherworldly. You'll continually be impressed by Ronan's spectral outline remaining in place on every single wall you walked through. As great as those elements are, though, they present some equally alarming issues.

Unimportant NPCs have low-detail design. Far less attention is given to lip-syncing (they'll often perform gestures unrelated to their dialogue) and there's a rampant frequency of character model and dialogue recycling. Add to that numerous incidents where an NPC's conversational voice fails to match the character model or internal dialogue, and you've got a confusing mess. It's tough to tell which is more off-putting: a young-looking NPC with an elderly voice, or the fact that a half-dozen people will have the same exact thoughts. At some point you'll just tune all NPCs out entirely.

Far tougher to tune out are the bigger glitches that pop up, with two of note causing issues during my playthrough. After an hour, the “Current Objective” never changed in the pause menu. It remained the same throughout the rest of the game, forcing me to pay close attention anytime a new objective flashed on-screen, lest I search the environment without direction. Frequent audio cues were missing as well. I had one side-mission go unfulfilled because the NPC delivering the vital info didn't have any audio or subtitles accompanying the speech.

It's really sad that Murdered: Soul Suspect fails to fulfil its promise. There are some interesting characters and plot-lines, as well as some really great visuals (depending on what or who you're looking at), but the game's strengths are haunted by mediocre gameplay and substandard production values. You won't feel any smarter having solved Soul Suspect's mystery, nor will you feel tested by its combat. Perhaps it's a blessing that most will quickly forget this game and get on with their lives.

There are a few notable characters and story beats in Murdered: Soul Suspect, but they're completely overshadowed by unremarkable gameplay and shoddy production values.

This game was reviewed on PS4.

33 comments

  • Toaster03 - August 15, 2014 8:20 a.m.

    Not a bad game!
  • petasz - June 6, 2014 2:24 p.m.

    Reading the review after finishing the game I don't really know what the reviewer expected. Combat is simple, and not that usual, but it serves well in this story-driven game. The number of "collectibles" really add to the whole atmosphere, the main character is likeable, as the "sidekick". Never had a single glitch. The whole setting and story gives us a gruesome, creepy, eerie experience. Clues are pretty obvious, and despite the "solving" having no failure state, you don't really want to guess the correct clue as your last try, do you? Navigating is pretty simple, with a waypoint system, so if you get lost "for the 20th time", wow. The game is not a big hit, it's better than avarage, if you like the story, if you want some action, don't tuch it. I think this review is unjustified, and handles the game as something else, as it is. From the 3 negatives 2 are absolutely inccorect. Just sayin'.
  • gamelover24 - June 5, 2014 9:58 p.m.

    ok sooo I disagree with everyone I thought this was a great game, a little boring not being able to shoot and not having a lot of action to it, but the demons were a good idea at least I thought so, and I think so far the storyline is great I havnt finished the game yet so I don't know how the ending ends up but so far Im liking every second of the game, im glad I bought it, but on the negative side I think they were lazy when it came to the people who were not ghosts being able to walk thru walls too (I dunno if anyone else caught onto that), and they kept repeating themselves which did get annoying. but other than that I had no problem finding all the objects on the first try and I rate this game 4 out of 5 stars but I do have to say they should have priced it 20 bucks cheaper if they were going to be that lazy with the details which kind of pisses me off, but nothing I can do now.
  • amabiggergamerthenyou - June 5, 2014 9:51 a.m.

    QUESTION ANYONE KNOW IF THE UK VERSION OF THIS GAME WILL PLAY ON A USA PS4 ??????
  • kirrlaos - June 4, 2014 11:23 a.m.

    Played a little of this, not to happy with it .. Pacing is so slow and what not, I'm going to stick with it for a bit longer.
  • GOD - June 3, 2014 2:23 p.m.

    Had genuine interest for this game. Sad to see it didn't live up to much despite being in production for what seems like above average dev time.
  • GOD - June 3, 2014 2:27 p.m.

    ..although it was apparently announced one day less than a year ago....
  • homestar99 - June 3, 2014 9:03 a.m.

    So the game is poop. It seems like a game nobody expected to be good and entirely meets those expectations.
  • Darkhawk - June 3, 2014 4:45 a.m.

    Ghost Trick is the bomb. Everyone should play it!
  • pl4y4h - June 3, 2014 11:05 a.m.

    That's literally the first thing I thought of. Murdered is like the bad version of that game
  • pl4y4h - June 3, 2014 12:24 a.m.

    I'm no stickler to writing but some parts in here need editing
  • universaltofu - June 3, 2014 12:29 a.m.

    Not a stickler for the tickler.
  • pl4y4h - June 3, 2014 11:04 a.m.

    Not a tickler stickler? Not a tickler stickler.
  • bebl09 - June 3, 2014 4:40 p.m.

    Tickler stickler tickler stickler tickler stickler
  • Shigeruken - June 3, 2014 12:15 a.m.

    That's a shame, I was hoping this would be as good as L.A Noire. Guess it's time to pick up one of the other games mentioned in this review.
  • Swedish_Chef - June 2, 2014 10:13 p.m.

    Looks like we have another game to add to the amazing ideas hidden in mediocre games list. :P
  • universaltofu - June 2, 2014 9:18 p.m.

    I like the 'yeah it's disappointing but here are some good games you may have missed' portion.
  • stevenhearn - February 27, 2014 10:33 p.m.

    The game seems interesting.... Looking forward to see more of it.
  • homestar99 - February 27, 2014 4:35 p.m.

    So, L.A. Noire except you're dead and the interrogation replaced with eavesdropping and cover based shooting replaced with stealth. I might just buy this game.
  • GOD - February 27, 2014 3:43 p.m.

    Will this game ever come out? It feels like every two months I'm lead to believe it's right around the corner.... and that corner leads to another corner....

Showing 1-20 of 33 comments

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