Murdered: Soul Suspect
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Airtight Games
Release Date: June 4, 2014
Gaming Platform: PS4
I like a good ghost story.
No... That's not right. I LOVE a good ghost story.
There is something special about a nice story that can send a few chills down your spine. Ghost stories live in that thin line between reality and fiction. They offer up a fictional tale, that skirts the lines of reality, and offer up a thin veneer of plausibility. The greatest part about them, is we can fool ourselves. Our brains can look at it and say, "that seems possible."
Murdered, isn't strictly a ghost story, though.
With Murdered, you are presented with a mashup of two different genre's. Half of the game is a nice atmospheric ghost story, with accompanying ghost stories to help flesh out the world. The other half of the game, is a crime drama, kind of like a CSI sort of thing. In theory, these two ideas work well together. The idea of trying to solve your own murder is a great idea, and could offer up some really spooky moments.
In the end, Murdered delivers on a great deal of atmosphere. The entire game is full of some great atmospheric moments, as well as some trippy moments that lend a sort of otherworldness to the ghostly existence of the main character. Time and space seem to warp around the town of Salem, merging bits of old Salem, with present day Salem, all merging into a strange amalgamation that is pretty, and creepy.
The story is a simple set up, and leads down a twisty path that is engaging, and offers some interesting and unique twists. There are times when the presentation is less than great. Parts of the investigations are ponderous, and convoluted. They make little sense in a logical presentation, and they break up the story in ways that break the immersion. This is not to say that the ideas aren't great, it just says that the presentation is less than optimal. Also, there is a huge collection aspect to the game... You are constantly piecing together pieces of Salem's history, or your own past, or clues to the crimes, or pieces of ghost stories... you get the point. These offer little ways to extend the game play, forcing the completionists to scour every single nook and cranny of the world seeking that last component. Trying desperately to find that single piece of lore that they missed. This is a game to drive the completionists insane.
The largest downfall to the game though, is the complete lack of difficulty. This game is cake... and not even a homemade cake, as that would take effort. No, this is a cake from a bakery across town. Granted, to get to that cake, you have to take numerous detours, stopping at the museum, a church, maybe even the police station, along the way. Once you get to that cake, though, it is smaller than advertised, tastes amazing, and leaves you ultimately unfulfilled.
...damn, my cake analogy left me wanting cake....
The game is enjoyable, offers little to increase the suspense, and feels kind of like someone played LA Noir, and said, "We're gonna do that, but with ghosts, and no action!" What the game really needed was another couple cases, or possibly a reactionary system, that made the killer react in certain ways dependent on the player's choices. When all is said and done, I invested maybe 10 hours into the game, and beat it already. I look forward to potential DLC, or possibly just a new game with better execution.
RECOMMENDATION: Visit Ye Olde Redbox. Rent this thing for 3 days, pay 1/10th of the cost. Or if you have to own it, wait until it goes on sale for like 20 bucks. Currently it lacks DLC, so there is no reason to keep it, and the linear story makes sure that replay value is pretty much nil.
FINAL THOUGHTS: In the end, I think this game is a great concept, that failed in the execution. It offers nothing in the way of replay value, and once you've solved the murder, even the desire to collect all the little story pieces seems unimportant.
PLAYER 2 SCORE: 5.5 out of 10