Murdered Soul Suspect from Square Enix tells the story of deadbeat character Ronan O’Connor and his traipse through realms of the spirit plane and partitions of reality. The opening story tells of a clichéd bad apple turned good, where the once rogue character joins the police force. We’re shown Ronan chasing down a suspect, but is cornered, beaten, thrown through a third floor window and then shot several times at point blank range. Rather than his spirit heading north or to the much warmer south, it remains on Earth as a ghost with some unfinished business to take care of, namely finding the person who so mercilessly killed him.
The game follows Ronan’s story by way of investigating various scenes searching for clues and then piecing the evidence together. This involves looking around each area for prompts which enable him to take a closer inspection, or jumping into the bodies of the living and reading their thoughts or even influencing them. The latter sounds interesting enough, but in reality is a bit of a wasted opportunity and features very little in practice bar the odd inconsequential murmurings. Once a set number of clues are found, it becomes a case of answering a simple question by piecing the most relevant clues together. It seems there was no real penalty for getting things wrong here although badges are awarded for being spot on first time or making fewer mistakes. The biggest feature that hits you right away and appears to be quite well implemented is how Ronan can walk through most objects, including walls. There are some boundaries which are explained early on in the story, but the sense of freedom of movement, and intrusion on the living is quite fascinating despite not much happening from the NPCs which is a shame.
There’s a spot of stealth action which has Ronan creep around soul hunting demons during several moments between areas. If he’s able to sneak behind them then a simple button press awards a demon take down which is the only bit of action in the entire game. What I found interesting and frustrating in equal measure was being spotted by said demons and then the hassle of trying to escape by warping through spirit points littered around the levels. It’s becomes a game of cat and mouse with very few options for the mouse. A lot of levels contained these spirit points but failed to place any demons in these areas which seemed like a missed opportunity as many locations were devoid of anything other than the odd collectible item.
In between moments of interaction, there’s a hub area which can be explored although there’s not really very much to find at all save for a few collectibles and the odd side mission which involves more clue hunting and piecing them together . At least it’s fitting to the detective character to be so helpful to other lost souls, but it makes Ronan as a character a bit wooden and predictable. After so many similar themed investigations the game does tend to drag its feet a little where overly drawn out cut scenes and a lack of variety make the experience more tiresome than intriguing. Married with a plot that becomes way too problematic to even describe and the game descends into the pits of uninteresting nonsense.
Murdered Soul Suspect looks pretty neat with its dark visuals but lacks more refined details and appears to be quite basic in terms of its overall atmosphere. There’s never really any fear of danger aside from the demons, and the game world suits this despite being quite varied across its themed areas. The only real gameplay annoyance I found was objects not highlighting properly when looking at them up close which was a sure fire way of missing important clues. However, after a number of hours play time the game came to its foregone conclusion offering very little in the way of redemption for Ronan, and far more time spent on the unskippable ending credits.
I simply cannot recommend this game as an immediate purchase and suggest more a rental or wait until the price lowers. It’s a game that will last a weekend, and then offer very little once beaten. Rather than present an action stealth game with detective elements, it’s more a point and click type adventure that basks in mediocrity and revels in twisting up familiar gameplay ideas, tossing them haphazardly into a game. On paper the premise is filled with a glowing promise, but in reality is a somewhat muted and illuminated jaunt into a predictable and non engaging join the dots experience that underwhelms more than it entertains.
Score 5/10 – Review by Andrew Banks
Review code supplied by Xbox.