Some time ago, I heard about Murdered:Soul Suspect and was immediately excited to see a new series taking shape under the hands of Square Enix. Back in the 90s, when Square Enix was Squaresoft, a large line of titles came from their making. Most of these games were of the Final Fantasy lineup, though they developed a wide variety of titles. Going back to Murdered: Soul Suspect, my question is this: Can Square Enix live up to the titles that made them relevant in the 90’s?
Ronan O’Connor is a detective in Salem, Massachusetts. He grew up on the streets and seems to have a different perspective on life than many of his colleagues on the police force. The game starts with O’Connor responding to a call, and he chooses to go in without back-up. This ends up being a foolish mistake for Ronan, as he is thrown from the top floor of a house. Standing outside of his lifeless corpse, the detective watches his killer walk away. As a spirit, Ronan O’Connor must solve his own murder, and ultimately stop the serial killer plaguing Salem.
The one thing that this game excels at is presentation. The story is captivating and easy to get sucked into. It’s dark and dreary, and gave me chills every now and then. I wouldn’t call it a terrifying game, but rather a mystery with dark elements.
M:SS has a variety of side-quests, which became more interesting than the main mission at times. The main characters are strong, having been given great voice actors and personalities. The opening presentation of the game shows the diversity between police officers, as their feelings are expressed around the fallen detective. One of the officers is Ronan’s brother-in-law, Rex, who is at the murder scene anxiously awaiting details. Rex seems frustrated that he cannot take part in the investigation because the victim is family.
Ronan can’t get past Limbo without being at peace, and to be at peace, he needs to solve his own murder. The game has some surprise elements and twists, literally making me gasp at some point. Very few games catch my attention in that sort of way.
The world of ‘dusk’, or the afterlife that Ronan is experiencing, is the stage where he inspects the crimes and puffs on translucent cigarettes. The dusk is full of ‘dementor’ like creatures which can do serious damage to you. These past ghosts have wallowed in their misery for ages, eventually turning them into the dangerous demons of the game. Besides the gameplay of searching for clues, you are occasionally interrupted by these demons. You generally play a small game of cat and mouse with them, walking through walls to escape, hide and attack. You can also use an ability to ‘possess’ people, or rather hide inside of them much like Lifestealer from DotA 2.
Being a detective is more interesting than running from demons, as it is one of the main elements that help make it an compelling story. You can use your ghost powers to influence people’s minds, or posses them to get a direct look through their eyes. A third power that you inherit is being a poltergeist. This is one of the more interesting elements of the game, but dramatically falls short of anything spectacular. You use your ghost powers to move physical items, distracting other people around you. This could be compared to Far Cry 3 where you can distract people or animals with little rocks that you throw. While I compare it to Far Cry 3’s distraction mechanic, it is half-baked. You can only use this power at certain times of the game when instructed. This made me feel limited to my ability to draw people’s attention. Square Enix made a mistake with this skill, making it no more than somewhat mediocre.
Solving cases is always fun in detective games. Much like L.A. Noire, this element helped me stay involved with the story. Unfortunately, it doesn’t follow much more than that when compared to the Rockstar title. While I have enjoyed detective games before, many of them seem to have the same flaw, and that is the inability to produce replayable material. The game only lasted 10 hours for me. I even took my time with completing the side-stories and collecting evidence, but still received a short experience.
I played this game on the Xbox 360 and wasn’t exactly wooed by its graphics. There were moments of lag and choppy framerate, though neither affected gameplay. The graphics for M:SS were okay for today’s standards of an Xbox 360 game.
The achievements in the game reflect the amount of items that you acquire during investigations. This was a problem when I finished the game, as I couldn’t start over with what I already had. I had the option to start a new game, or continue from the last chapter. If you are an achievement collector and absolutely have to have every achievement in the game, then I would recommend printing off a walkthrough.
The Verdict: 6.0 out of 10
Murdered:Soul Suspect makes a good attempt to be a good game, but ends up only being a great story with disappointing gameplay. The fights with the demons were only interesting to me for two hours of the game and then just became annoying later on. Square Enix missed a great opportunity here and could have made something amazing. They managed the plot and the characters magnificently, but attached low-quality mechanics which only made the game far too easy. I would like to recommend at least putting this game on your rental list as a cinematic mystery.
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Landon Luthi is one of MONG’s newest editors. You can follow him on Facebook.