Murdered- Soul Suspect
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Game Reviewed: Murdered- Soul Suspect
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Airtight Games
Platform: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
Category: Adventure, Stealth
ESRB Rating: M
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Salem, Massachusetts is well-known for one thing: witch trials. A dark period of the town’s history in which women were regularly killed for even the silliest of accusations. And now, it’s the site of Ronan O’Connor’s murder. Which he’s not particularly happy about.
Yes, Ronan seems to have some unfinished business, as he wakes up on the street where he died, translucent and immaterial. He hopes to solve the mystery of his own death, thereby freeing himself to move on to the afterlife and once again be with his deceased wife. But, as you might expect, he’s involved in something far bigger than just his own murder.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is a mystery game, through-and-through. It uses investigative gameplay elements reminiscent of L.A. Noire, and avoids unnecessary combat mechanics in favor of occasional stealth sequences in which Ronan must avoid wandering demons hoping to drag his lingering spirit into Hell. The result is a deliberately-paced and rather unique game with a compelling story and some interesting gameplay ideas.
But as you might guess from the premise, there is plenty of spiritual content in the game, so let’s take a look at what this game could mean for your kids.
What Parents Need to Know
There are many depictions of brutal violence, though the gore is tastefully reigned in. While investigating, Ronan will see many murders, including shootings, hangings, car crashes, burning at the stake, and drowning. Pools of blood are sometimes seen beneath victims. Descriptions of homicide and suicide are involved in some investigations.
Words such as “f**k” and “s**t” are used fairly commonly, and less expletives (ass, damn, and the Lord’s name in vain) are used fairly often.
Nothing of note.
Obviously, there’s plenty here. The plot centers on ghosts, and there is a fair amount of detail as to how these spiritual elements work. Ronan, as a ghost, cannot enter buildings on his own due to the spiritual concept of the “threshold,” similar to vampires. He works with a girl who is a medium, and is the only one who can see and communicate with him. Ronan can also possess people, but only to hear their thoughts; he can control animals more fully, such as using a cat to get somewhere he could not.
Occasionally, demons will show up to try and take Ronan’s spirit down to Hell. He cannot fight them directly, and must instead try to sneak around them. He can kill them if he successfully sneaks up on them, but generally speaking it’s best to just avoid them.
The plot involves a witch who was burned at the stake for a crime she did not commit, and she has used her powers after death to terrorize the city after death.
One investigation involves a drunk driving accident, and the player pieces together the information as they come across it.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is one of those games that you can tell was made by a smaller studio on a lower budget, but clearly had some love and effort poured into it. The story is fairly rote, but compelling and enjoyable, and the mystery is fun to put together. The graphics are far from top-tier, but they did their job perfectly well. And the investigative gameplay is actually fairly original, and makes you feel like you’re actually figuring all this out yourself.
The spiritual elements are the main source of concern for kids, and the intense language doesn’t help. It’s probably not something you should be putting in front of young children, but teens old enough to understand the fiction of such spiritual concepts would probably not have an issue with this one.
All in all, Murdered: Soul Suspect is imperfect, but unique and interesting, and I’m very glad I played it. It never reached high levels of commercial success, so the price is already down a fair bit; if you want a decent mystery story and some unique investigative gameplay, and are alright with the spiritual content and mature language, this is a pretty good option.