Murdered: Soul Suspect reviewed – Waiter, there’s a movie in my game

murdered_soul_suspect

By on June 5, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Murdered: Soul Suspect feels hollow, and that’s not just because you’re a ghost. Remember the good-looking but detached dalliances you might’ve had with Asura’s Wrath and/or Beyond: Two Souls? This is like that. It has that exact same inconsequential feel of having been intended as a movie, but made by people who ended up in games.

Which sucks even more in this case, because MSS’ narrative is only compelling in so far as it’s a mystery. Every well-worn cinematic cliché and dramatic device of the afterlife is good and accounted for here: You’ve been murdered, and you can’t go and be with your dead wife – also cruelly murdered and a source of personal agony! – until you deal with what’s keeping you ghosted to Salem, Massachusetts (yes, it is even set in America’s witch-burning capital).

‘You’ being newly spectral detective, Ronan. Oh, how he is a monument to the fact a great many game designers desperately require life experience. When your idea of what constitutes an ‘edgy’ lead is consistently some brooding white guy with stubble and tattoos, at least convince with the devils in the details. Ronan’s tattoos are beautiful works of art where they are supposed to represent a misspent life of long prison stretches. You ever seen prison tattoos? They don’t look like that. They look like this.

Chopper Reed

His omnipresent cigarette is supposed to be badass as all #yolo, too, and in its own way it is. During the opening throwdown with MSS’ masked antagonist, it never once falls out of Ronan’s mouth.

Nothing can take away from MSS’ vibe, though. The atmosphere generated by apparitions of Salem’s brutal past poking through into its sleepy present is wonderfully uncomfortable, and Jason Graves’ (he of Dead Space fame) eerie minimalism sets it off. Its gameplay is just as ethereal, because MSS is essentially a pixel hunt for the modern era.

When you’re not in railroaded transit to the next point of interest (this may sometimes involve dodging demons or possessing a cat, about the only times you can exercise any free will), you’re trying to piece something together via pretty much finding and clicking on things that might be clues.

The ‘detective’ majority of MSS recalls Jayden’s parts in Heavy Rain, or even Westwood’s Blade Runner adaption from waaay back, with one crucial difference: There’s no wrong answer here. You click on everything enough times and you’ll just succeed and move forward. The game even tells you in huge hovering letters what you’re supposed to be doing most of the time. Blade Runner is 17 years old and it still managed to give you the freedom to do things out of turn and thus vastly alter the narrative. MSS just wants to be the year’s ultimate summer blockbuster.

And that’s the problem with it: For a game that wants money for being a game, it’s not much of one. Despite this, some critics think MSS’ story is strong enough to keep you going. That really depends on how high your personal standards are for a good supernatural thriller, but you could probably find this exact same thing but better on an illicit Netflix connection within seconds. Do that.

Good:

  • Vibey.
  • Ronan’s hat is cool.
  • Press ‘Q’ to make the kitty meow.

Bad:

  • Game is not really a game.
  • Conceptualised by men-children.
  • If it was a movie it would be cheaper and the same thing.

Murdered: Soul Suspect is currently $53.99 on Steam.

This review conducted on PC code supplied by Namco Bandai.

27 comments (Leave your own)

Could you elaborate on some of the issues here, what do you mean ‘you just click on everything and succeed and move forward’, does some in-game circumstances and excuse at the very least drive the story onward while at the same time critisizing your lack of detective work or do you literally just teleport to the next scene..? (Probably not the latter here but you are very vague and seem like you aren’t even trying to review this)
Was the story ultimately any good with twists and turns?
How long on average was the game?
Pc Optimization?
What about the forced stealth/combat sequences that I wasn’t exactly excited about anyway?
etc.

This seemed to come across as more of a ranting that you personally don’t enjoy these type of story driven/visual novel style genre games, more-so than a proper review.
It’s a movie it’s a movie, yeah… we know. It’s a niche genre that many of us enjoy. Saying that over and over isn’t a negative criticism and doesn’t tell us anything.
As someone who absolutely loved Beyond: Two Souls, Fahrenheit and considered Heavy Rain my 2010 GOTY, I knew exactly what type of game this would be and is why I made the conscious decision to pick it up in the first place.

Guess this goes hand in hand with what I said the other day about having to judge these things for myself.

 
Toby McCasker

stoibs,

“I knew exactly what time type of game this would be and is why I made the conscious decision to pick it up in the first place.”

So, wait: You are bitching about a review of something you have already purchased and presumably know all about already? WHY?

 

Wait, it’s a “game” like Heavy Rain? For reals? Wow I absolutely “loved” Quicktime: the Video Game.

 

I pre-ordered this last weekend when I found a reputable web store that I’ve dealt with many times in the past selling keys for $31. I suspected then that it wasn’t going to be GOTY material, but I really enjoy story based games, from LA Noire, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, to classics like LucasArts’s The Dig and Day of the Tentacle, so I took the chance.

The thing I find curious is that there are so many generic action games coming out all the time and yet it seems that in the reviews I’ve read, everyone is faulting this game for not being a generic actioner, but a story teller.

 

Toby McCasker,

Ozgameshop hasn’t sent keys out yet, I haven’t played it.
I feel my points were valid, it comes across as a rant of you not liking this particular genre rather then actually delving into the nitty gritty and providing details about the game proper in each of it’s parts.

The satirical ‘Ubisoft game’ review spoof held more content and went over more theoretical points and features than what is here. I’m sorry if you can’t handle criticism and need to refer to it as ‘bitching’ as some sort of defence mechanism, but; “It’s a movie, ergo it’s bad, I don’t like the clichéd Protagonist either” is sadly what I gleaned from reading this.

jimmy35: The thing I find curious is that there are so many generic action games coming out all the time and yet it seems that in the reviews I’ve read, everyone is faulting this game for not being a generic actioner, but a story teller.

^
Same thing happened with L.A Noire sadly. People wanted a GTA, got confused by an adventure/story game and called it crap.

 
Toby McCasker

jimmy35,

I love stories! My objection is: If the story is all you’ve got, it better be ridiculously awesome.

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a visual novel that just hit the Vita. It is unputdownable, purely on the strength of its narrative. That’s what you want.

 
Toby McCasker

stoibs,

My feeling is: It is the things in games that make you rant (in a positive or negative way) that are worth articulating, not the boring intricacies of every mechanic (unless they’re so boring they’re worth ranting about).

I suspect what you want is confirmation that what you’ve shelled out for is awesome. It’s not. Life is unfair. Sometimes I can’t get my hair just right. Crack a beer

 

Toby McCasker,

Dammit that sounds like a great title for a bullet-hell style shmup!

 

Toby McCasker:I suspect what you want is confirmation that what you’ve shelled out for is awesome. It’s not. Life is unfair. Sometimes I can’t get my hair just right. Crack a beer

Eh, figured the knee jerk response would be ‘Oh you just have buyers remorse’ or some such silly nonsense which I honestly don’t care about. Was cheap as chips compared to what I make, I would actually be happy to hear one way or the other with details. Sadly, again I just didn’t get that here.

 

I’m with Stoibs; the visual novel/movie genre may be niche, but they can still be incredibly enjoyable. Virtue’s Last Reward for the Vita/3DS was amazing, and was the first game in a long time that I simply could not put down. I managed to clock in about 40 hours in 7 days to finish it. There are plenty of ‘actual games’ that don’t last half that time, much less fail to keep me enthralled.

I’ll have to give this a go before I can judge, but it looks solid enough to me. Is it worth the RRP? Maybe not, but I’ve paid $45 for Vita visual novels like DanganRonpa, which was an amazing, if not twisted little game. That said, I’m not sure if Squeenix were going for a niche title, especially with all their reports about not making targets.

 
Toby McCasker

vcatkiller,

It does, hey? But it is a SICK J-style visual novel, a genre of gaming that I really love (and I’m surprised at how many peeps here also seem to be into narrative-centric stuff?). Ergo my standard for games that go this route is pretty high, and they should be: $50 or whatever is a lot to be asking for anything that belongs in the DVD bin at Tandy’s (RIP).

 

Toby McCasker,

Yeah personally not a huge fan of visual novels. The lack of interactivity usually puts me off. That said I’ve played and enjoyed some good ones, like the official English release of Steins;Gate that was released a month or so ago. I have a bunch of them I’ve bought over the years and barely finished or even started most of them.

 
Toby McCasker

vcatkiller,

Wait are we including visual hentai in this discussion

 

jjager,

Honestly, it’s sqeenix.
I wouldn’t be surprised If this is even on sale during the rumoured 27th~ish of June start of the Steam sales.
Games from these guys have a track record of hitting rock bottom prices quickly.
I have a love of the genre and found a cheap store which is why I don’t care and picked it up now. Probably not worth the RRP since I’ve heard it’s only about 10 hrs long (From some other site, that actually bothered to provide such vital information in their review ;))

 

Toby McCasker,

Steins;Gate isn’t Hentai. Far from it. Strangely enough there are some very nice visual novels that aren’t porn. I sadly haven’t seen too many of the more family friendly PC visual novels in English though. Still waiting on an official English version of Clannad for example, would completely love that…

Yes I have played some hentai visual novels. No it doesn’t make it any more interesting.

 
Toby McCasker

vcatkiller,

You know what’s funky, is that some of those H-games have these *tremendous* stories. I have witnessed grown men with families fight to the death to defend the narrative sanctity of Kana: Little Sister.

 

Toby McCasker,

I actually have bought Kana: Little Sister. I admit it. Never played a second of it though. Possibly the best story in the universe, couldn’t tell you.

 
Toby McCasker

vcatkiller,

Hahahaha.

I haven’t played it, either (the subject matter has always turned me away a bit). That said I think Three Sisters Story is one of the greatest story-game-things ever told and it would be a really, really good book.

 

Toby McCasker,

Actually I think I remember 3 sisters story. I played it ages ago, never bought that one though. <_<

 
Toby McCasker

vcatkiller,

Never… bought it.

 
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