Murdered: Soul Suspect, the fantastic title invention of Words: Grammar What and it’s co-conspirator Double: Meanings Related, is a murder mystery game where you play as a ghost. More specifically, the ghost of a detective who – not a particularly big spoiler – dies at the beginning of the game, after one of my favourite opening sequences ever. The sequence I’m referring to illustrates why and when said detective, Ronan, gained each of his tattoos through a quick and artistic montage of bits of his life. Even with all the stereotypes, it instantly makes him his own character.
(Before I go on, a note on my continued Sunday posting failure. I actually have a job now. This means I have simultaneously earned the label Productive Member of Society whilst suddenly failing at everything else. Excuse me whilst I rummage in my bag for a time management bagel. Mmmm, it would be so tasty if I’d remembered to put one there *coughs*. I realise I have two Sundays to catch up on i.e. this post +1, as well as needing to post something this Sunday… I will do my best!)
You investigate in order to determine the identity of the Bell Killer – your killer, as well as the killer of several girls. To do this you team up with a medium named Joy who is looking for her missing mother. I found the story very satisfying – indeed, the factor which carried the game over its less satisfactory parts. There are a couple of plot twists which play out very well, and the conclusion ties everything together nicely.
There are two major elements of gameplay. One involves investigating crime scenes, finding clues and subsequently piecing them together to draw conclusions. The logic feels odd at times – you may want to deduct something sensible when the game just wants you to select the obvious fact it just stated before, for instance. However the penalty for not linking the clues instantly isn’t much – just a lower investigation score, with no losses in terms of continuing the investigation or being able to find further clues. In terms of detective investigation, I gotta say that L.A.Noire does it better. But being able to use your ghost skills as part of the investigating is fun, like being able to reveal ‘ghost memories’ of events that took place in the investigation area. You can peer through the eyes of others (living), influence them, and read their thoughts. It’s certainly more fun than the other part of the gameplay.
There are demons lurking. They want to drag you to hell or something, and not in the funny possessed goat kind of way. The only way to take them down is to sneak up behind them and then trigger a mini quick time event – beware your reflexes, the button prompts change each time. If quick time button pressing is not your thing, be assured that by the end of this game it will really not be your thing. And at least in my experience, clearing the room or just about, by systematically picking off those in your way, was generally the simplest way to proceed. This didn’t mean it was easy. By the end I was raging. The camera annoyed me – my body could pass through a wall before I could see the other side – yes, there’s a function to see through walls, but that function doesn’t tell you where the walls are (ha.) The fighting wasn’t real fighting, just stressful QTEs, and in my opinion for doing a lot of that they really could at least have rewarded me with a cooler killing animation than ‘bursts into embers’. Like how about you punch through their centre and rip out their rotting, still beating heart before their whole body contorts, limbs stretching tortuously before they bubble down into demonic lava, for instance. Just a thought. Overall, the stealth wasn’t the most painful nor the most fun experience. The sound effects instilled a respectable amount of fear every time the demons were present, which is certainly something. The layout of the areas you face them in changes, but the demons always look the same, and the only thing you can poltergeist to distract them is crows.
I really like the side stuff available in this game. It includes lost ghosts which you can help move on by conducting mini-investigations, as well as collectibles in each area that can reveal a story for that area (I got a few areas, and the stories unlocked were suitably rewarding for the effort, though sadly missing any cutscene animation.) You can also collect memory fragments about Ronan’s previous life and relationship with his wife, which really – haha – bring him to life.
Overall, I really enjoyed this game. It’s not a particularly long game, coming in at about 7 hours to finish, but it works for the story it tells – I’d definitely rather something be succinct than overstretched. It has likeable characters and a good conclusion.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch that opening sequence again…