I’ve never really been into action games: first person shooters, anything that is all hack-and-slash without much other substance, where the objective is to hack as many heads off with a machete as possible, things like that. So when I come across a game that is less action, more story-centric, I get super excited. I’d much rather be engrossed in engaging story lines rather than blowing people’s heads off with shot guns all day. Where’s the fun in that?
MURDERED: Soul Suspect takes place in the historical city of Salem, Massachusetts, where you play the role of murdered police detective Ronan O’Conner. As you can imagine, the plot is rich in Salem Witch Trials lore. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, but growing up I was obsessed with all things Salem (and even got the opportunity to visit once a few years ago during Halloween – quite the experience), so that particular plot point was extremely exciting for me.
I wouldn’t say that the game’s environment really make it noticeable that you’re roaming around a small, real-world town rich in occult history; it’s more like roaming around small-town skid row outside of Gotham City. However, a particularly entertaining aspect of the game is the ability for “ghost Ronan” to see certain things in his surroundings that live humans cannot, such as: other ghosts, guillotines, hay barrels, old wooden homes, graveyards, etc. There’s not much you can do to interact with these ghostly apparitions (save for some of the ghosts), but it is kind of interesting to see how long-dead smoke screens of history might blend with modern day surroundings within the game.
The town itself is beautifully textured and detailed and fun to explore, though don’t get me wrong – there is not much to do outside of the major “quest line” of the game. There are the occasional “side quests” in which you assist another ghost in passing on, but other than that, the game is pretty shot gun from start to finish. It only took me about eight hours total to complete, which saddened me because as I said, I really enjoyed the story line. Though for the cost of the game (it is currently listed for sale on Steam for $39.99), I’m pretty disappointed at the lack of places to explore and things to do that are not directly related to the main plot line. In addition, the camera and mouse controls in general are a little tricky to get ahold of at first (HELLO, sensitivity!) but you get used to it pretty quickly. I’m not a console gamer, so I can’t speak to the same problem with using a controller, but feel free to chime in if you want to in the comments section!
You spend a hefty chunk of play time with your snarky teenage sidekick, Joy, whom I came to really enjoy listening to Ronan interact with. Their personalities played well off of each other and, of course, by the end of the game you are tried-and-true friends (no spoilers, don’t worry). Much of the game is spent escaping areas, avoiding demons (and oh my god, please avoid them – the sound they make may cause an ear bleed) and collecting clues to solve a variety of different mysteries.
Like I mentioned above, there are not a whole lot of “areas” to explore – about 4 or 5, maybe 6, large ones outside of the main town. However, if you do intend to play this game, I strongly encourage you to look EVERYWHERE while exploring – every nook and cranny, behind every wall and every door you can find. Otherwise, you may miss the opportunity to view, read about and listen to other content in the game.
Overall, I’d say MURDERED: Soul Suspect was a pretty fun game, if you’re into a rich story, don’t mind a little bit of a clunky control system, and are okay with relatively small worlds and linear plots. I could definitely see myself playing it again in the future if only for picking up the missing pieces I’d have to find in order to view additional game content. However, if you are expecting an open world, or a long amount of game play, I’d say skip this title and go for Skyrim or Fallout or one of the other truly open-world games available at the moment. You’ll likely be much happier with your experience.