We don't want to hear any discourse, we just wanna talk about anime and anime-like TV.
Murdered: Soul Suspect shouldn’t be a game. If you asked me 99% of the time if a game should just be a movie or other kind of media, I’d laugh in your face. Video games are video games because they’re interactive, and the storylines are enhanced by the gameplay, or at the very least the gameplay doesn’t detract from the story. That’s not the case with Murdered. This is the first time I’ve felt a game’s gameplay detract from the experience of playing the game. That being said, Murdered is still a solid story that is very nearly ruined by some of the crappiest stealth I’ve ever encountered in a game.
You play as Ronan, a troubled cop who gets thrown out a window and shot five times after investigating a sighting of a serial killer called The Bell Killer. You’re brought back from the dead as a ghost to solve the mystery of who the killer is and save Salem, Massachusetts from the horror he brings. Ronan has ghost powers now, which means he can pass through most walls, possess people, and teleport short distances. All of these powers are used to traverse the hub world as well as the individual levels you progress to. The city of Salem is littered with actual landmarks with plaques explaining their importance, and it’s honestly neat to see a game published by a Japanese studio be such a love letter to an American town.
I quickly got attached to the characters in this game, and that breaks my heart. I loved seeing Ronan begrudgingly work with his goth girl sidekick Joy, shake his head at Rex the Bell Killer case leader, and cry deeply missing his long-deceased wife Julia. It’s handled well, and both Ronan and Joy have little characters arcs that aren’t great but are reasonable for what the game entails. There’s also a really cute cat that you can possess at times, and it’s some of the best gameplay in the game.
Each level splits itself between investigation and stealth segments. The investigation parts remind me of Ace Attorney, giving you a set area to search with your spooky powers. If you’re not tethered to an area, you can also find items around the world that, when you collect all of them in a set, unlock a fun ghost story that is then read to you. The game already feels like a tale that would be told around a campfire, so hearing more yarns is a bonus I welcome. You can also stumble upon four side-stories where you solve the death of other ghosts you come across. I’d have enjoyed this game much more if there were more of these. The best content in the game is in these side stories, and they’re optional and extremely limited in number.
The stealth in this game is shameful. At first it’s ignorable and I didn’t think it was going to be a detriment, but oh no, it most certainly is. You must sneak up behind ghouls and rip them apart before they can suck your soul to hell. If you’re spotted, you have to teleport back and forth between “spirit remnants” to get them off your tail. It is tedious, overly difficult, and just plain lame. This is the only standard gameplay in Murdered, and it makes me wish the developers had omitted any gameplay at all. Exploring the world and finding creepy clues made the game scary enough. Having to deal with over the top ghosts in awkward ways makes it almost impossible for me to recommend this game.
Murdered: Soul Suspect isn’t much. Half of what it is isn’t bad at all! But the other half is so bad, it makes me want to cry. This game could’ve been a sleeper hit, but ends up being a missed opportunity. Play this on the cheap for the story, or skip it entirely. Just be prepared for frustration and disappointment.