Murdered: Soul Suspect has a strong story and atmosphere, but just misses top marks with sections of tedious gameplay.
In Murdered: Soul Suspect you play as Ronan O'Conner, a Salem, Massachusetts police detective/Indiana Jones impersonator going after a serial killer. However, once the serial killer murders you, you die and are reunited with your dead wife. However, in an opposite Ghost-like move, you cannot rejoin your wife in eternity until you finish your business back on Earth. On the trail of your killer, you get ghost-moves from a creepy pilgrim girl from the 1600's, unravel the mystery of the killings and follow every twist and turn, hoping the next one is your ticket to heaven/hell/purgatory. So it's basically like Ghost, but with more possessing people, having the ability to smoke ghost cigarettes and the ability to fight demons.
Gameplay has it's pluses and minuses. It's fun to possess people and animals, and battling demons is of course awesome. But when you pass those moments, you are suddenly stuck with actual work. Going through files, pictures, clues over and over again. It's like L.A. Noire, but with way more repetition, which is saying something. It's understandable that solving a mystery takes work, but it is basically going after object after object to get the right clues to proceed. With a few more action sequences and a few less grueling police work moments, the game play would have been more fluid. But instead of “Riggs from Lethal Weapon action”, you have “Clerk at desk in background of Lethal Weapon” action.
The story itself is quite good and is the gem of the game. Playing a dead cop, you face challenges such as not being able to interact with objects directly, but gain advantages such as being able to walk through walls. Going after your killer while dead is a pretty awesome twist to the “hunting the serial killer” genre, and the past events from Salems long history that pop up everywhere create not only a world based on the present day, but the past as well. O'Conner and his alive human ghost-seeing friend Joy team up on an adventure that was genuinely interesting. If this was an AMC original series, this would have been totally picked up viewers just because of the story alone.
Audio-wise it's pretty solid. Sometimes the audio doesn't sync up with their mouths moving, but that can be forgiven as it happens on many games. There is a lack of any music, many relying on sound effects, and while it can be a little creepy at times to just hear whooshes and tings when selecting options, it fits the ghost theme quite well. Visually it is not bad. The shimmering, see through graphics of Ronan can take a little getting used to and some of the objects (glass on cars for example) are so obviously just a big object chunk painted a bit generically in strategic areas and look a little Ps2-ish. But look past that and it really feels like an otherworldly Salem. Only Nathaniel Hawthorne and Hocus Pocus made it look better.
Build Rate was fine on the PS version and it never really slowed down. When you ask people questions it takes awhile to ask and receive an answer to be cinematic, but it flows nicely together. The only time it slowed down for me was with the demons that popped up here and there. They ate away at the frame rate (as well as Ronan's soul) a bit, but once you got past that sticky spot, it was back to smooth sailing. There was also a glitch or two in the game. As a ghost, a few buildings I was supposed to go through I was not able to a few times until I jogged back and tried it again (this time working). It only happened twice, so I like to think Ronan temporarily forgot he was a ghost and didn't want to eat a face-full of door. It was nothing major and actually got me excited when I thought he could have been human again.
Murdered: Soul Suspect has a good atmosphere, a good story, and graphics and audio that are not too shabby. However, game play really eats away the score a bit as the tedious clue finding was almost unbearable at points. It's a mystery thriller, but it just needed a few more “thriller” moments and a little better organized detective system to really hit a high note. If you are a patient player, this is a good game, but if you want something with a bit more action and less tedium, perhaps only rent this one. Still, it's pretty damn unique. So I would recommend at least giving it a play, even it only means to be pretending to be Patrick Swayze for a little bit.
Rating: 8 out of 10