Murdered: Soul Suspect Review

Richard Walker

Imagine you've just been pushed from a high window onto the street below, before being shot to death at point blank range seven times. Chances are you'd be slightly perturbed upon discovering you're a ghost condemned to the purgatorial realm of 'The Dusk'. But detective Ronan O'Connor quickly learns to take it in his stride, resolving to find and foil his killer as soon as possible. This, in a nutshell is Murdered: Soul Suspect, an investigative adventure with little in the way of real investigation, wherein you gather clues in an effort to pick up the trail of the Bell Killer and close the net.

Set in Salem, Massachusetts, a city steeped in the supernatural, Murdered sees O'Connor learning his newly acquired ghostly powers and getting to grips with being dead. Initially, it all seems somewhat reminiscent of a point-and-click game, though in essence it's closer to ponderous PS2 title Shadow of Memories, albeit without the time-jumping mechanism or mind-bending story. Murdered's narrative is easy to follow, but its detective elements boil down to simply picking from a series of clues that you've spent time collecting by simply pacing around each crime scene, on the lookout for pertinent items.

"Those bloody teenagers."

Assemble all of the clues and you'll then be tasked with piecing them together by picking the most relevant leads. Pick the wrong one, and the only penalty is losing a police badge from the three badge rating for each investigation. This has no bearing on anything, so the sense of accomplishment when you hit the nail on the head the first time is diminished significantly. Keep picking from the clues laid out before you until you get it right, and you'll plod on to the next section. You're really just along for the ride then, but the story has just enough intrigue to keep you engaged for the duration, though taking the act of actually deducing what happened out of your hands makes a lot of Murdered terribly uninvolved. Simply click through the list of things and move on.

Thankfully, Ronan is a likeable rogue. Plagued by his criminal past and deceased wife, he's a man who just wants to be at peace. Perpetually puffing on a cigarette, he's something of a cop show cliché: the gruff, hardboiled detective with a rough edge and patchy sense of morality. Helping him through his journey to find and bring the Bell Killer to justice is Joy, a teenage girl who's also a medium, offering a bridge between the spirit world and real world. The relationship between Ronan and Joy is one that grows on you over time, though to begin with, Murdered's script is dreadful; stilted and poorly paced, raising more of a smirk than anything else. It soon hits its stride, but you'd be forgiven for rolling your eyes or cringing at the majority of the game's dialogue during the opening hours.

Murdered is structured in such a way that you're also encouraged to explore, with each location and its ensuing episode branching off from the Salem streets, which you're free to walk at your leisure, solving side quests and collecting various extraneous bobbins. There's a surfeit of collectibles in the game, whether it's items revealing one of Salem's ghost stories, scraps of paper revealing thoughts from Ronan's wife, projections of past events or spooky spectral graffiti daubed on the walls by mysterious ghost girl, Abigail. You'll find that there's almost too much stuff to collect, and that's because there is. You can't help but feel it's been crowbarred in to spin out the relatively slender story.

Just hanging out in the graveyard with a young girl. Erm...

Walking the streets, you can possess anyone you like and read their mundane thoughts, which is something you'll soon learn is entirely pointless. Ronan's powers only ever have any relevance within the context of the game's cases, with mind reading, influencing people's thoughts and occasionally peeking through their eyes at important documents all contributing to gathering evidence. Most of the time, NPC thoughts are completely disposable ramblings, which could almost be forgiven if they were remotely entertaining or amusing. They're not.

You can also use Ronan's 'Poltergeist' ability to turn TV pictures to static, scramble walkie talkies, cause printers, phones and photocopiers to malfunction, and no one in the vicinity responds or even raises an eyebrow unless its within the context of an objective. It makes Murdered's world seem utterly bereft of life, as characters wander aimlessly around or stay glued to the same spot for the entirety of the game, thinking the same boring crap on a constant loop. It's one of many areas in which the game's lack of attention to detail makes it seem like something made about 20 years ago. It's pretty piss poor.

O'Connor can also pass through walls, remove designated obstacles and reveal obscured spectral happenings to fill in extra story elements, his movement limited only by the outer boundaries of buildings and a few interior walls that exist within The Dusk. Your progress is hampered only by the occasional twitchy demon or a hellish oily portal in the floor, filled with monstrous arms clawing for your soul. Demons are easily vanquished by sneaking up behind them and tearing them apart, while floor arm portals can be avoided by not walking into them. Neither of these pose much of challenge, so meeting a second, more permanent demise usually comes down to either carelessness or a lapse in concentration.

Ronan can teleport up to some high places and look down on the living.

Taking you from the scene of your murder, to a church, police station, cemetery, mental hospital, history museum and spooky abandoned house, Murdered builds a strong atmosphere of foreboding, but the nature of its trial and error gameplay undermines the whole endeavour. And yet, there's something inherently endearing about the game. It somehow manages to draw you in and hold your attention, despite an overall lack of polish, and a very palpable sense that the next-gen version is the last-gen game with a slight lick of paint.

Like the game, the achievements are incredibly straightforward and connected only to the story, using Ronan's powers and discovering all of the numerous collectibles stashed throughout Salem. There's really nothing more to say about the list beyond that. It's about as vanilla as a set of achievements can possibly get, consisting of very little imagination and nothing that promotes any sort of experimentation with Ronan's abilities. A missed opportunity, a bit like the game itself.

Murdered: Soul Suspect is fun in an old-school sort of way, recalling adventures from the past. It feels like a game from a simpler time, before huge production values brought games like The Last of Us, LA Noire, GTA V and the like to life. From a narrative standpoint, Murdered simply can't hold a candle to any of these, but as an uncomplicated adventure with just enough intrigue, red herrings and mild twists to keep you second guessing how it'll all play out and conclude, it's something that's moderately enjoyable while it lasts. Nonetheless, it feels enormously dated, taking a concept with potential and failing to do it the justice it deserves.

Murdered: Soul Suspect

Throwaway macabre fun, Murdered: Soul Suspect will likely keep you hooked until its only partially predictable conclusion. The game does a decent job of throwing up red herrings, before delivering its ending, but the journey to get there is a largely uninspired and inconsistent slog.

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Voice acting is rather patchy, although the leads do a decent job with a crappy script. Music is suitably eerie, but entirely forgettable.


On Xbox One, this is clearly a last-gen game given a bit of a next-gen polish. Again, all of the attention is lavished on the lead characters and environments, while the NPCs almost all look the same. It's a functional, unremarkable looking game.


Murdered's mechanics show promise that Airtight fails to deliver. Everything works perfectly well, and there's some genuinely interesting and unique stuff on display here, but it's all mired in lacklustre execution.


It all gets off to a face-palming, atrocious start, but once it settles into its stride, Murdered actually proves to be good, wholesome fun. The story lasts around 10-15 hours, but only if you factor in the array of collectibles. There's little to no incentive to play through more than once, although the story is not a total write-off.


About as straightforward and conventional as achievement lists get, there's nothing here to get excited about. It's also worth noting that if you're going for all of the collectibles (a massive chunk of the list), then you'll need to find everything before the final level. There's no way of returning to Salem once you initiate the end game.

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