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Murdered: Soul Suspect Review - Go Into The Light Already

Paul Goodman | 3 Jun 2014 04:01
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Developed by Airtight Games. Published by Square Enix. Released June 3, 2014. Available on PC, PS3, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Xbox 360.

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Murdered: Soul Suspect is a game that bills itself as an action-adventure, but in reality, it's much more akin to an old-school point and click adventure game. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but what prevents Soul Suspect from being as good as other notable games in the genre like The Wolf Among Us, is how it fails to do anything significant with its premise. Unlike its protagonist's murderer, Soul Suspect misses many a mark in creating an entertaining experience.

Set in Salem, Massachusetts, Murdered: Soul Suspect tells the story of Ronan O'Connor, a heavily tattooed, former criminal-turned-police detective. Like all grizzled cops, Ronan has a tortured past (complete with a murdered wife) driving his search for truth and justice, making him come across as a less ornery version of Max Payne. Unfortunately for Ronan, he begins the game dead after having been both thrown out of a fourth story window and shot repeatedly by the notorious Bell Killer. Waking up as a ghost, Ronan learns through some exposition provided by his dead wife that before they can be reunited, Ronan must resolve any unfinished business he has in the mortal realm - namely, solving his own murder and those of the Bell Killer's victims.

Since Ronan's a ghost and all, things quickly take a supernatural turn as you delve deeper into the Bell Killer murders and his true identity. You'll encounter a young medium named Joy who can see Ronan and reluctantly helps him in his investigations, and travel all over Salem in the hopes of shedding more light on the Bell Killer's motivations. Despite having some plot twists that will be obvious to anyone who knows anything about Salem's infamous real life history, Soul Suspect does have a decent enough narrative that's capable of holding your interest from plot point to plot point. The same can't be said for Soul Suspect's other facets, many of which are as coarse as Ronan's demeanor.

The meat of Soul Suspect's gameplay comes in the form of investigations. These events are where Ronan uses his now-supernaturally powered detective skills to look over a crime scene, or find an important plot MacGuffin. Sadly, most of these investigations involve little more than hunting for clues and solving a deductive reasoning puzzle or two. They can also quickly become unduly frustrating when the game decides not to highlight an important object until you've looked at it in just the right way. You don't even have to find all the clues to solve a particular mystery, since more often than not you can just brute force your way through merely by picking random topics until you hit the right combination. It was a real shame to realize that after several different investigations, I was encountering the same types of easy to solve puzzles over and over. In fact, other than ruining your chance for a perfect score, there's no penalty for mucking up an investigation. This just about kills any weight behind Ronan's supposedly urgent quest to solve the Bell Killer murders when you don't have to worry about any real risk of failure.

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