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Review

Murdered: Soul Suspect Review

  • Game release: June 3, 2014
  • Reviewed:
  • PS4
Aaron Sampson on Google+

A ghost of a chance.

by

There are strange events unfolding in Salem, Massachusetts, and it has nothing to do with the growing ghost population. It's the living who are noticeably off-kilter. As a serial killer slowly picks off the uneasy inhabitants, the frightened few who remain seek shelter in an eerie playground as a foreboding moon illuminates their discontent. Or maybe they embark on a guided tour of the local graveyard, where centuries of restless spirits glide along the foggy paths. To question their puzzling actions during such a stressful period is to understand how dissimilar their decisions are from what you'd expect from a rational being. Murdered: Soul Suspect is full of such abnormalities, and as it struggles to frame its supernatural events in a way that's plausible, you're often overwhelmed with a need to laugh.

However, even though it wears its many faults so openly, Murdered: Soul Suspect manages to demand your attention until the chilling end. This is the rare game that has problems you could count off on your fingers--flaccid visual design, overly dramatic score, underdeveloped characters--but that overcomes its missteps to provide an adventure laced with the empathy of a human-interest story and the constant dread of a well-realized ghost tale. Laugh all you want at Soul Suspect, but it has serious heart as well.

Things get off to a rocky start, not only for the game in question but for its beleaguered protagonist. Ronan is a street-thug-turned-cop whose life story is told through extensive tattoos spread across his body. We see him perish in the opening cutscene, killed by a hooded assailant whose motives, we can deduce, are far from pure. It's then that you embody Ronan's ghost, desperate to solve the mystery of the murder that suddenly ended his life. Such a setup could have provided a solid structure to build upon. However, Ronan's tough-guy act is so painfully generic that there's little more to his characterization than puffing on a ghostly cigarette. He's a stoic blank slate who never made me care who his killer was.

Even though it wears its many faults so openly, Murdered: Soul Suspect manages to demand your attention until the chilling end.

Such a major problem could have derailed this entire adventure, but as Soul Suspect slowly gains its footing, there's more here than a tired protagonist. Ronan's ethereal nature gives him voyeuristic powers that serve to shed light on the people--alive and dead--who still roam the streets of Salem. Much of Soul Suspect involves walking casually through the desolate city. Because you're a ghost, the barriers can't rein Ronan in, so walls are nothing more than opaque passageways. As you examine locales, you discover clues peppered about, filling in details of who you are and where you've come from, along with myriad tidbits about those who inhabit this world with you. And it's piecing together this intricate puzzle that serves as the most interesting aspect of Soul Suspect.

You may come across ghosts who are still stranded in purgatory because they have unfinished business. Clues are strewn about that, once collected and assembled, spell out the causes of their deaths, which have kept them trapped in Salem, and there's inherent pleasure in seeing their troubled stories through to completion. Maybe the boy upset that his drunk driving was the cause of death for his friends and himself can find respite in knowing the truth, or a drowned woman might learn that her death was not in vain. These characters only exist in these small situations, so we don't learn much about who they are. But I felt much closer to the characters when I put their fears to rest, so I welcomed Ronan's knack for investigating.

Other times, you hear only a snatch of information about stranded ghosts, understanding why they haven't moved on to the afterlife without having any chance to save them. There's a college guy who doesn't realize that a fraternity prank went horribly wrong, and a woman suffering deep regret over her own suicide. These views into people's psyches are affecting because it's easy to understand their mindsets even though you spend such little time with them. How trusting that frat-boy pledge was, and how he suffered for what should have been a virtue. And how sad it was to see a woman overwhelmed by her own troubling thoughts, and how desperate she is to reverse her rash decision. These characters felt real in ways I had not expected and pushed me onward to see who else was out there.

If only I didn't need to make so many excuses for the rest of Soul Suspect. There are forced combat encounters against roving demons that make no sense compared to the slow-paced scenes that encompass the rest of the game. Granted, it takes no more than a couple of minutes to get the jump on these prowling reapers, but these scenes still provide only an annoyance that detracts from Soul Suspect's strengths. And then there's a baffling stealth section in which you must help your medium friend sneak through a building that she already has permission to be in. Talk about a forced challenge. Plus, as you're searching for clues in the environments, objects flicker as if they're crossing between two planes, and you can't tell if you've already interacted with them or there's more to do. Much of the action in Soul Suspect feels sloppy, so that you're often fighting to progress instead of helping the story unfold.

At least Soul Suspect's many problems serve as laughable tonal shifts rather than frustrating dead ends. Take, for instance, the rare moments when you must possess a cat. Not only does this look incredibly goofy, but by tapping the otherwise useless meow button, its silly mouth moves like a feline puppet. This is good for comic relief but doesn't exactly fit within the rest of the game. Then there are the contradictory thoughts of the citizens whose minds you can enter. The guy who loves being in a small town but regrets that there's nothing to do is all over the map, and it's sad how many people the developer believes are locked in psychiatric wards because they see bugs crawling up walls. It's a cheap way to exhibit mental problems.

Despite these issues, at no point was I disenchanted by Soul Suspect. Even though I recognized how ludicrous the game often was, I was still invested in the story that was slowly unfolding. Finding the many pieces to hear the troubling truth of a psychiatric ward was well worth the searching it required, so I never got deterred by Soul Suspect's weakness. The strongest story thread belongs to your wife, Julia. She grappled with her feelings for Ronan, struggling to rationalize why she was attracted to a man with so many problems. And she had mental issues of her own, which caused her to question her life choices. Uncovering the details of her life made me care about Soul Sacrifice much more than the flimsy relationship I built with Ronan ever could.

Murdered: Soul Suspect is as troubled as its protagonist. There are so many problems--from the presentation to the story and even technical hiccups--that I was continually pulled out of the experience. And yet, I continued on, and I'm glad that I wasn't overwhelmed by those missteps. It's empowering to piece together the sad details of the people you encounter, and that element was strong enough to keep me engaged throughout. Murdered: Soul Suspect has a lot more spirit than its taciturn protagonist could ever muster.

The Good
Lots of interesting stories to piece together
Great sense of empathy as you learn why people passed away
The Bad
Dull combat encounters
Lots of bugs and glitches
Severe tonal shifts
6
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

/ Staff

Tom has always been drawn to virtual investigations, so the slow-paced investigations of Soul Suspect were right up his alley. He spent more than 10 hours in Salem completing as many side stories as time would allow.

Discussion

132 comments
kenpachi212
kenpachi212

just finished the game and it was a great story with a great twist at the end. Gamestop sucks...I mean Gamespot.

kenpachi212
kenpachi212

playing and loving this game so far. Nice change from the usual AAA BS.

Mutahnt
Mutahnt

Gamespot reviews suck.

punksterdaddy
punksterdaddy

I just completed this and I would highly recommend it if you are interested in a good story, rather than kill, kill and kill again.

It has many issues, (xbox360) but after a while I got used to the choppy frame rate when running and eventually forgave that. For me it was all about the story, in which I was totally invested in. Which is, by the way, not as predictable as I thought it was going to be.

I also got it at the mere £25 price point and it had only just came out two weeks earlier.

thecman25
thecman25

if you were planning on buying this game buy it, its an amazing game 

themanitou23
themanitou23

This game is awesome, especially if you've been gaming since the 90s and enjoy oldschool point and click adventure style games.

thecman25
thecman25

this game is amazing i would give it 8/10

rfrodo
rfrodo

 I honestly loved the game, it felt like LA noir a lot smaller ofcours and les action but .. the game gave me so goesbumbs once in a while. Story wise it felt like the movie 'Ghost'' for the people that has seen it.


I give it a 7 from my point of few and the exitcement i had during the gameplay.


focuspuller
focuspuller

Tom nails it. Spot on review. From the story to the game itself, it's an odd one. I had all the same opinions within the first 5 minutes of playing it, including REALLY disliking the main character, and needless to say, that's a problem.


This game is more off putting than bad, if that makes any sense.

makemoneytoday
makemoneytoday

Personally i hope this is nothing like Tesla because the world in that was so badly designed with numerous glitches but the worst part was the acting. It was like they were just doing it for the money and had no interest in the actual story :(  


To not care for the Protagonist kinda makes the whole process of finding out who murdered him much less enjoyable.

boogieman976
boogieman976

I actually enjoyed playing through this game for the 9 or 10 hours it took for me to complete it. The game could certainly be finished much more quickly, but I scavenged around for clues (this game's version of collectibles), so it took a bit longer, especially since there is no HUD or map to speak of. This brings me to my MAJOR problem with this game. There are several achievements (trophies for you PS people) that depend on gathering sets of clues. This is fine and dandy, but the game doesn't warn you that once you begin the final investigation, you will not have another chance to run around and collect anymore. Once the credits role, there is an option to continue, but it takes you back to the beginning of the final investigation. No new game plus option either. In other words, if you don't find every last collectible before you start the final scene, you are screwed. This is a major flaw in a game where collecting things is such an integral part of the experience and doing so is required to fully complete what the game has to offer. I would love to give this game a 7.5/10, but this drawback makes me go no higher than 5/10. So, so, so disappointing.

omgmike23
omgmike23

Glad I read the review. I didn't think this game looked worthy of my $69.99. I wouldn't even pay $39.

mikhail
mikhail

The quality of this game is what is suspect.

mrcapone
mrcapone

THis game is super boring, don´t buy it, don´t commit the same mistake I did. 

nomailx
nomailx

I hated this game just watching the review. Will never buy this crap. U play a cat that keeps being possessed by a ghost! Wtf??

koospetoors
koospetoors

Was currently listening to Times of Grace and clicked on this tab to read the review, the meowing cat perfectly lip synced with the screaming, it was simultaneously hilarious and brutal.

pcty
pcty

Δ = MEOW!

leikeylosh
leikeylosh

If a game like Gone Home received high scores from major gaming sites, then Murdered Soul Suspect should receive a ten. This is the perfect example of a game that focus first on the story and second on gameplay.

10854
10854

'Severe tonal shifts' - i wouldn't count as a negative and would like that stark contrast. 

speedfog
speedfog

Good review Tom.
I was on the fence with this game, will buy it when it drops in price.

princeev
princeev

finished the game right now in just half of a day and it was really, really, REALLY horrible! no one should buy this piece of crap or even rent it. everything about this game (except the artistic design) is really bad. the city and its level design is one of the worst i've ever seen, the characters aren't so deep, the ending isn't satisfying, the rules of the dead world aren't logical, it's full of bugs and broken and the gameplay and fights against the demons is just horribly, horribly bad! 4/10. trust me it deserves this score. 

if you want to play a much better game and understand how a game in this genre should be do yourself a favor and go buy Still Life 1 with a much lower price.

Liferipper
Liferipper

Sounds like it should have been a book and not a game

meatz666
meatz666

Tom's reviews are such a chore to read. So much fanciness, when game reviews should be about effectiveness. Stop babbling, Tom, you're better than that.

NinthFall
NinthFall

Those graphics really don't seem like they're even trying to be next gen graphs?

faizanhd
faizanhd

From the reviews I read it seems like the game should have just focused on being a good adventure game rather than doing a little bit of everything.

strrckshn
strrckshn

Lots of bugs and Glitches where? Don't see this mentioned in any of other critic reviews.

But does it halt the gameplay?   You know like Skyrim did.

isshiah
isshiah

I hear the protagonist of Watch Dogs is just as dull.

WolfgarTheQuiet
WolfgarTheQuiet

@focuspuller Doesnt this cancel out the whole point of a review. I read reviews that praised so many things, totally different to this one and game got 8.


To me the only way to buy a game is to take a risk and the feeling you get. Sometimes reviews turn you away from great games like this one and makes you buy over hyped high scoring games that are rubbish almost.

Hurrly
Hurrly

@leikeylosh It reminds me of Deadly Premonition to  a degree. combat seemed an after thought really to give the game some action but its mainly as you say a story driven game about uncovering the stories of the people around the main character. 

Personaly im enjoying it im taking my time and uncovering the stories as i go .

hella_epic
hella_epic

@leikeylosh Even though gameplay is second, it is lackluster and boring. Hence, marks should be deducted. Simple as that. Gone Home, never had combat but what it did have it executed perfectly, unlike this game. 

streamline
streamline

Look at what you done, speedfog. Stop posting comments like that, you'll trigger more of these responses.

doahayatekasumi
doahayatekasumi

@speedfog murdred soul suspect easily sells more than GTAV, watch dogs, halo, call of crappy crap batman  crappy assassin creed and all those stupid shooters >__<



RONAN from murdered soul suspect can easily kill drake, batman, master chief an all these muscle dumb heroes -_- ronan can also beat up batman and ezio from stupid AC games


this is why murdered soul suspect is selling more than all those other games SCREW this review this game deserves a 9.5

doahayatekasumi
doahayatekasumi

@princeev dude its too late this game is already selling your just jealous that this game is selling more than other crap games like stupid uncharted stupid call of duty stupid last of us stupid watch dogs non of those games come close to murdred soul suspect an ronan the hero in this game is ALOT cooler than the stupid macho muscle losers like drake in uncharted the call of duty heroes battlefield heroes all steroid morons


I SUGEST you don't support those other games especially watch dogs because murdered soul suspect is the most unique experience sorry it does not appeal to your macho steroid action games -_-


your probably too slow to understand how to play murdered soul suspects because you play action an stupid FPS crap games and your afraid that ronan the hero in murdered soul suspects would kick your face in real life even if he is a ghost ^_^

TomMcShea
TomMcShea moderator

@princeev How did you finish it so quickly? I spent more than 10 hours and only saw half of the story.

punksterdaddy
punksterdaddy

@strrckshn

No it doesn't halt the game-play. Well not for me at least. (X360)

It has many bugs when running from one area to the next but you get used to it when it does happen, but to me that is minor issue to deal with, compared to the story that it is telling... Which I was really engaged in. If it was a shoot em up or FPS, then it wouldn't work but solving cases by looking for clues is the majority of this game.

I recommend it to people who like games such as The Walking Dead, but it is less to do with point and click and more of third person adventure.

It is a quality title imo.

punksterdaddy
punksterdaddy

@WolfgarTheQuiet

I went with my feelings on this. I never read any reviews until literally 5 mins ago, but I had completed the game now.

I would say the game deserves more support than it is currently getting, since I have had nothing but negative remarks from friends who saw me playing it and said so.

I'm happy with it, although not much replay value... and bugs aplenty. 

I think if I had read the reviews earlier, then I may have been not as keen on getting it but I was determined not to get the well over hyped Watch Dogs.

OldKye
OldKye

@daikkenaurora12 @leikeylosh Describe "Female lead" to me lol.

Cause I've watched like 15 minutes of gameplay and you seem to play a male ghost(some times a cat) she seem to be like Ellie in the last of us a focus of the story but hardly the lead.

edro
edro

@doahayatekasumi @speedfog this game didnt get a higher score cuz it full of glitches!!
thats what you get when you focus too much on story but can even develope properly a game.

SkytheWiz1
SkytheWiz1

@doahayatekasumi Before you call someone slow, you should proofread your posts and check your facts.

This was release week (which tends to be the single highest selling week of a game), and it still lost out to Watch Dogs and Mario Kart 8, both of which have been out for 2+ weeks.

I'll understand if English isn't your first language, but your attitude in your posts comes across like a twelve year old. You liked this game - that's great; defend it with reasons why you like it, not by insulting others.

doahayatekasumi
doahayatekasumi

@TomMcShea @princeev i beat the entire game dude and it is the best its easily more unique and will win GOTY while all the other crap games at e3 will fail because their all stupid macho muscle man games are braindead losers -_-


RONAN the hero in murdered soul suspects is better looking than all of you so thats why your hating on my murdered soul suspects game -__- murdred soul suspect easily sells more than GTAV, watch dogs, halo, call of crappy and all those stupid shooters >__<

princeev
princeev

@TomMcShea but how? there's no puzzles or hard boss fights in this game. you just run (or teleport), collect stupid things , and watch cutscenes. and there are only 5-6 locations to explore in the city. Joy's home, police station, sanitarium, judge house, museum and cemetery. that's all of it.

anyway,  bought the game yesterday, played about 1 hour. started playing today and after about 5-6 hours beat it.

Murdered: Soul Suspect More Info

  • Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • + 3 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Murdered: Soul Suspect challenges gamers to solve the hardest case of all...their own murder.
    6.8
    Average User RatingOut of 139 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Murdered: Soul Suspect
    Developed by:
    Airtight Games
    Published by:
    Square Enix
    Genres:
    Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms