Review: Murdered: Soul Suspect

I’m generally not that fond of adventure games or similarly puzzle-heavy experiences. I am a simple man; I like to get a big sword or gun and wreak virtual havoc.

Ronan investigates his own murder scene in Murdered: Soul SuspectBut I was intrigued by the concept of Murdered: Soul Suspect — a game where the player takes on the role of the ghost of a police detective trying to solve his own murder — and it seemed to have a lovely ambiance and creep factor to it, so I decided to give it a shot.

It didn’t meet all of my expectations, but I don’t regret buying it.

In Murdered: Soul Suspect, you play as Ronan O’Connor, the hardboiled detective of all hardboiled detectives who is hot on the trail of a brutal serial killer known for the mysterious bell marking he leaves on his victims. Filled with reckless aggression after the untimely death of his wife, Ronan confronts the killer without backup, and pays for it with his life.

But that is not the end. Before Ronan can move on and join his wife in the beyond, he must resolve those things he left undone in the land of the living. Namely, bringing the Bell Killer to justice.

Along the way, Ronan gains an accomplice in the form of an ill-tempered teenage medium named Joy, and much of the latter parts of the game involve working in tandem with her.

Being dead obviously has its disadvantages, but as a ghost, Ronan gains a number of supernatural powers that heighten his already considerable capabilities as a detective, such as teleportation, the ability to absorb memories from locations and objects, and the capacity to possess and subtly influence the living.

Ronan and Joy in Murdered: Soul SuspectIn practice, Soul Suspect mostly boys down to wandering crime scenes looking for things to click on and then figuring out the correct clues to put together to solve a particular investigation. It’s not terribly challenging, but Soul Suspect is really less about gameplay and more interactive fiction, like Remember Me or any Bioware game ever.

In addition to the main story, there’s a lot of optional side content — though not so much it feels burdensome. There are a few side quests where you help other lost souls move on, though these stop about halfway through the game, which is odd. There’s also a lot of lore items to collect that expand on the backstory of the characters and the town.

When you complete some item sets, you’ll be treated to a fully narrated ghost story alongside some fairly creepy artwork. These were the the only parts of the game I found to be legitimately scary.

One major weakness of the game is Ronan himself. He’s just not a very good character by any measure. Much of his dialogue is painfully cheesy, and while I’ve heard worse acting, his voice-overs don’t improve matters any. He’s also a fairly implausible character — a lifelong criminal and multiple felon who manages to fall into being a police detective through the good graces of his brother-in-law.

Joy is a bit more interesting, but still not an especially memorable character in the greater scheme of things.

A ghost story in Murdered: Soul SuspectOn the upside, the main storyline provides a very effective mystery. Up until the last half hour of the game, I thought I had figured everything out and knew exactly what was going on.

I did not.

The final twist hits a perfect sweet spot of being unexpected, yet making perfect sense once all the pieces of the puzzle are revealed.

Really, that’s all you can ask from a mystery, and that’s what Soul Suspect is.

Overall rating: 7/10

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