Murdered Soul Suspect: A flawed, but likeable, detective game

Murdered Soul Suspect (SquareEnix, multiplatform. Reviewed on PlayStation 4)


Find the killer: Murdered detective Ronan O'Connor must find out who killed him.
Find the killer: Murdered detective Ronan O’Connor must find out who killed him.

One of the more interesting aspects to SquareEnix’s detective game where you play the ghost of a murdered police trying to solve his own murder is that sometimes you get to possess cats.

Set in the town of Salem – well-known in American lore for being the home of witches and witchcraft – Murdered Soul Suspect opens with detective-with-a-shady-past Ronan O’Connor being thrown out of a house window then brutally murdered by a masked serial killer nicknamed the Bell Killer by Salem’s local police department. O’Connor’s ghost wears the five glowing bullet holes in his torso like a badge of honour and before he can join his murdered wife Julia in heaven, he must uncover who the Bell Killer is.

As O’Connor explores the town of Salem, he uncovers a tale steeped in witchcraft and with the help of the daughter of a missing clairvoyant tries to find out why the Bell Killer is  doing what he’s doing (murdering people).

For a game based on witches and rituals, Murdered Soul Suspect wasn’t as scary as I was expecting and it doesn’t feature a lot of combat, either.

Actually, it isn’t scary at all as the only real threat to O’Connor’s ghostly form are demons that appear from time to time – usually when he has to exit a building he’s just explored or a building he’s about to investigate. The demons – tormented souls trapped on earth – are more of a nuisance than anything, although they can’t be taken head on: O’Connor must approach them stealthily, from behind, often hiding in conveniently placed spirits dotted around environments.

Sneaking up behind a demon without being caught activates a quick time event (on PlayStation you pull the R2 button then have to match the on-screen stick and button combination). If you mess it up – or they spot you before you’ve managed to get it – they’ll chase him until eventually sucking the will from him, and you return to the last check point.  The demons aren’t hard to kill: Just annoying.

Most of Murdered Soul Suspect’s game play involves examining crime scenes and piecing together clues about happened in a particular environment. At certain points, O’Connor will have to determine what order specific events happened, based on the clues he’s uncovered.  Each clue he solves, obviously, leads him closer to the identity of the Bell Killer.

Being a ghost has great advantages, mostly in that O’Connor can pass through most walls in his search for clues, except those that have been consecrated: He can’t pass through those.

But back to the cats. At certain points, controlling a cat is a lot of fun, especially in in the first 1/4 of the game where you guide a possessed cat through the grounds of Salem’s church to reach the attic where Ronan first meets Joy, the daughter of the missing clairvoyant. There are other times you can possess a cat, but often it’s just to be able to climb up scaffolding so you can reveal a collectible.

I played the PS4 version but to be honest I didn’t blow me away graphically. Murdered Soul Suspect looks nice but isn’t the sort of game you’d invite friends around to show off what your PS4 can do.

Sadly, Murdered Soul Suspect turns out to be a pretty average detective game that’s not particular difficult or taxing, but it’s saved by its genuinely intriguing story and the sterling effort done by Jason Brooks and Cassidy Lehrman, who voice  O’Connor and Joy.

Dynamic duo: Ronan and Joy join forces to solve the Bell Killer case.
Dynamic duo: Ronan and Joy join forces to solve the Bell Killer case.

The performances by Brooks and Lehrman lift Murdered Soul Suspect from the “meh”to the interesting, and while it won’t go down as one of gaming’s classics, it’s the type of game that I’ll remember playing, and not want to forget.

[Thanks to SquareEnix Australia for providing a copy of the game for review]

 

2 thoughts on “Murdered Soul Suspect: A flawed, but likeable, detective game

    1. It was flawed, but I found it engaging enough to play. From what I can gather, the studio was already in trouble before Murdered Soul Suspect was finished. I guess the harsh reality of the game development industry is that if your games aren’t up to scratch then gamers won’t buy them: Simple as that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s