“Seeing your own body lying in the street… it’s like looking in a mirror that you don’t want to see but can’t turn away from.”
Murdered: Soul Suspect is an adventure stealth video game developed by Airtight Games and published in 2014 by Square Enix. The game is played in a third-person view as the player navigates the protagonist, detective Ronan O’Connor, around the town of Salem.
In games usually death is the end of the story, but in this tale it’s only the beginning. We begin with Ronan being thrown out of a window by the brutal and relentless serial murderer he was pursuing. The perpetrator, known as the Bell Killer, finishes Ronan off by shooting him seven times in the chest. Returning in the form of a ghost, Ronan meets the spirit of his long-dead wife, Julia. She informs him that he cannot join her in the realm of the afterlife until he completes the unfinished business binding him to the living world.
Ronan investigates his murder, and gains instruction into his new ghostly abilities from the ghost of Abigail, a young Puritan-era girl. The investigation leads to a local church to find a young medium, Joy, who witnessed Ronan’s murder and can see ghosts.
The game features L.A. Noire type investigative areas in several locations such as apartment crime scenes, break-ins, and street shootings. As Ronan, you must find all of these clues and figure out what happened, all while finding artefacts that point towards Salem’s dark past. There are also other citizens trapped as spirits, you can help them solve their murders and find enough peace to pass over to the other side.
As a ghost you have several abilities; possession, teleportation and exorcising demons. A major criticism I have for this game is that battling demons is literally the only combat you will see in the entire game, and as they follow a set path they’re extremely easy to kill. It’s no surprise that combat is so sequential because the game itself is so linear. Murdered: Soul Suspect is a game that appears to give you choice but really there’s only one singular path. Ronan can possess every person you see walking on the street, but often they repeat their thoughts and it’s meaningless. Additionally as I previously said you can investigate other citizen’s murders but there are only a set number of people in the game you can help in set locations and there’s only one outcome to your discoveries. Unlike in L.A. Noire where you can make the wrong choices or miss a clue, in this game you have to collect all the clues to continue and to finish an investigation you must put 3 clues you found in order, which you can get wrong a multitude of times without consequence until you figure out the correct one.
Not to say that this game is all bad. Besides it being incredibly short (apparently almost 12 hours if you’re a completionist), it has a unique concept and the plot is intriguing enough to make you ignore its faults and persevere until the end. Furthermore, the locations you visit are very atmospheric, including wooden houses, narrow streets, Gothic churches, and a mental asylum.
I also managed to live out my dream and possess a cat.
Overall, as unique as this game is, it just feels like there should be something more. It lacks more freewill, more challenges and the story itself – as intriguing as it is – is pretty weightless. Ultimately it was easy for me to guess who the villain would turn out to be, just as it’s easy to figure out that Senator Palpatine is really Darth Sidious. It’s obvious there should be more added to the game as it’s so short but still the curiosity of the ‘whodunnit’ storyline will be enough to carry you through.
Murdered: Soul Suspect