Hello all! Last week’s game was a broken mess that I managed to find some good in.
Today’s game isn’t quite as broken, but it’s still wonky and not exactly super-great. But that’s okay.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is a sort of adventure game developed by Airtight Studios (it’s their last game). You play as a detective named Ronan who, when the game starts, is chasing a serial killer known as The Bell Killer through a building in Salem. Things go south, and Ronan is killed, yet his ghost rises up. Ghost Ronan is told by the ghost of his wife that he must solve the Bell Killer case so he can join her in the afterlife.
You go about solving this case by walking around and talking to people, in a fashion. Ronan is a ghost, so you can’t directly converse with the living; rather, you can read their thoughts and snoop on conversations in order to find clues. Primarily, you’ll inspect items and link them with clues—think somewhere along the lines of a clunkier L.A. Noire and you’ll get the idea. Helpfully, you can walk through walls and earthly objects as if they weren’t there. There’s also a bit of stealth gameplay at work; Ronan is occasionally chased by malevolent spirits that you need to hide from, by sticking to shadows and such. Being an adventure title; the vast majority of the game revolves around exploring and puzzle solving.
Let’s say this right off the bat: Murdered isn’t a great game. At all. It’s functional, sure, but it’s wonky and begins to fall apart when enemy spirits show up (pretty early). Each encounter with one of these revenants sucked me completely out of the game. I was having a decent time investigating my own murder, then suddenly I’m playing a busted stealth game. It sucks. Further, the game’s voice acting and graphics are kind of okay, at best. It looks like an upconverted last-gen title. It can be nebulous at times, and there’s no real sense of place; a fictionalized Salem sounds amazing on paper, but you generally end up trapped in a building or a small locale of sorts, pixel hunting for clues.
In theory, this paragraph here would be where I say, “Despite these issues, Murdered: Soul Suspect is a blast!” Well, it’s not. But I still enjoy the thing. I remember Murdered getting less-than-glowing reviews on release; reviews ranged from terrible to mediocre. I, personally, don’t think the game is all that terrible (though like I said, it bombs when stealth/combat is introduced). The key word in that sentence, though, is personally.
Video games, like any other kind of art, are subjective. What’s good for you might be bad for me, and vice versa. The only objectively bad games out there are ones that are completely broken and non-functioning, like Superman 64 or Big Rigs. Something like Murdered exists somewhere in the vast chasm of okay-good games that occupy the space between the worst games and the best. Only what even qualifies as the best or worst games? I mean, it’s different depending on who you are and what you play.
Anyway. More to the point regarding Murdered, though: I think Murdered is an okay game, and being okay is fine. I have a weird soft spot for wonky games that have their heart in the right place, which describes Murdered pretty well. It’s clunky to play, but you don’t need quick reflexes to play an adventure game anyway. The combat sucks, but there’s not much of it, and it’s over pretty quickly. And the story is interesting enough to make you want to see what happens, at least. I should note that I got the game through Xbox One’s Games with Gold, but Murdered is the kind of thing I’d buy used for like $10-15 or so. It’s a fun, beat-it-and-you’re-done kind of game. Check it out if you have the means, and you’re into supernatural mystery junk.
Thanks always for reading this possibly too-long series of goofy, rambling articles. I have a Twitter and I like talking to people, so follow me!
Next week, we’ll look at one of the best looking games of the current generation of consoles. It plays pretty good, too! It’s a fun romp in ancient Rome.