Games With Gold and Playstation Plus are really helping get games that are considered forgotten or unloved into the hands of the masses. Games that with a bit more time, polish and love could have been something more special than the diamonds in the rough that they are.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is one such game. When looking at the middling reviews it received it’s hard to disagree. It’s nothing amazing; gameplay is sub-par in places and technically it’s quite poor with significant framerate drops, one of which almost made me turn the console off because I thought it crashed. But there was something about it that I couldn’t help but appreciate. The story, characters and world it created grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.
The story revolves around murdered detective Ronan, beginning with your death at the hand of a masked serial killer. It’s your job, now as a ghost detective, to uncover the truth using your spirit powers. These powers including possession, walking through walls and obtaining the truth through revealing past memories, piecing together each crime scene you come across like a spectral Batman.
There’s an ingenious amount of thought that’s gone into the world and rules of Murdered: Soul Suspect. As a ghost in the traditional sense you’d think you could walk through every object, naturally something that would be technically impossible with a world as large as this and a development team that may lack the resources. Instead of just saying “it’s only a game” as you find yourself blocked off the route because of a pesky building in the way or some sort of invisible wall, the game’s setting of Salem, Massachusetts means that there’s a lot of history the game can draw from.
There’s an ingenious amount of thought that’s gone into the world and rules of Murdered: Soul Suspect.
As you walk through Salem you’ll see the ghostly outlines of buildings and other obstacles that can’t be passed. During the time of the witch trials, buildings were made so any ghostly presences couldn’t pass through the walls outside, hence why Ronan can’t just walk through everything, instead having to wait around for someone to kindly open the door for him.
Not just having to solve your own murder, you’ll also come across other ghosts who have met a similar fate, it’s then up to you to solve their mystery so they can cross over to the other side. Some are quite disturbing, such as the old couple who snapped and murdered a noisy neighbour. These are essentially little side quests that are only there for achievements, but they’re a welcome distraction from the main plot even if they are quite short.
The only major complaint I have is with the combat, or what closely resembles it. The developers obviously felt the need to add a bit of dread to the game, which is weird considering you’re already dead so how much worse can it get? Turns out it can with a bunch of demon creatures lurking and they’re intent on turning you into a white paste. The only way to stop them is to stealthily sneak up on them and exorcise them. If they see you first then it’s a case of hiding until they forget about you and go back to their routine.
The shrill shriek which marks their arrival was always met with a massive sigh from myself. Soul Suspect is an easy game not to mention short, so these sections have clearly been added to up the difficulty. But that to me isn’t what the game is about, it’s about the story, the mystery and the world rather than horrible stealth sections that just slow down the pace of the game.
In the end, once the credits rolled I felt satisfied with the game’s conclusion.
In the end, once the credits rolled I felt satisfied with the game’s conclusion. There was no open-ended scene where you’re left waiting for a sequel that as we know now will never come. Ronan’s story is complete and for the grand total of £0 I can’t grumble. Almost a shame I can’t throw in a few quid for the developers as a sort of thank you, of course that means nothing now the studio is defunct, with Airtight Games being shut down mere months after Soul Suspect’s release.
I’m writing this not long after Sony announced a whole heap of sequels and remasters for PS4 and I feel the world needs more clever and interesting IP now more than ever. But when it doesn’t sell, then why would developers take the risk? And now I’ve gone and got myself all depressed thinking about it.
R.I.P Airtight Games. You deserved better.