Murdered: Soul Suspect was easily the biggest surprise of 2015 for me, and I think the last game that really blew away my expectations to the same extent was the psychologically assaulting trek through the sands of Spec Ops: The Line. Now of course that comparison gives Soul Suspect a lot more credit than it deserves, it’s a far from perfect game and certainly won’t be looked back on as a game design milestone. But while I expected a more or less point and click hidden object game with fancy 3D graphics and bizarrely contrived QTE’s, what I got was a decent story entwined in a fascinating and well fleshed out word with fantastic mechanics to handle action sequences.
Honestly, yes. If I had to boil this game down into a single genre I would have to go with a point and click adventure. The main backbone of the game is walking from crime scene to crime scene and pressing X when you spot a clue. There is certainly nothing revolutionary about the mechanic but the content of the clues- and to a much larger extent the collectibles- brings to light a remarkably well imagined world. Now I’m not well versed in the history of Salem and the details of the witch trials, but I think the writers put in a good amount of creative effort bringing an engaging fictional story into a very real place and time. Typically the little factoids littered around the game world only appeal to completionist minded individuals like myself, however I found myself on a multitude of occasions scouring the town for that last entry to figure out the end of a story.
The visuals of the game are adequate, nothing that I didn’t expect after looking at 2 or 3 screenshots. I was able to run the game mostly maxed out on my 680 and the framerate was stable and consistent.
Here is the thing that made the game for me: the “final boss”. Don’t worry I will not spoil a thing, and it was actually the absence of something which made it utterly refreshing and a huge relief. Aside from a handful of action-y stealth segments with demons, the game is slow and narrative driven. As I felt the story come closer and closer to a close I got this feeling of dread. You see I know how AAA games go nowadays, every fiber of my being was expecting this dreadful quick time event unfair boss fight that has no continuity with the entire rest of the game. I was even tempted to not finish the game myself and watch the ending online because I didn’t want to walk away from such a great experience with a terrible taste in my mouth. Yet the developers NAILED it. No it’s not a spectacle and no it’s not brutally difficult, but it was satisfying and conclusive to the narrative. The amount of relief I felt at the ending was overwhelming.
I’ve harped a lot on a very little point of the game, but it was a big reason this game left me with such a positive view of it. Murdered: Soul Suspect is not perfect but it’s a breath of fresh air for narrative centric games and it kept me engaged and entertained the whole way through.