Achievers Review of: Murdered Soul Suspect
This review will touch on the main aspects of game design, as well as the game's fun factor, and its achievements. At the end will be a small set of positive and negative points for the game, as well as it's score. Enjoy, and any feedback is more than welcomedGameplay (Story, mechanics, and difficulty)
Right off the bat, I have to admit, this was in the top 5 of my most anticipated games for 2014. Even with all the mediocre reviews, I was still overly pumped for my playthrough. Now that the hype train has gone and past, I can say that over all I was satisfied with what I got.
Although the “solve your own murder” plot line isnt new to pop culture, it is fairly unique to the gaming medium (I can easily be wrong, if so please correct me). Within the first minute, you. Ronan O’Conner, are murdered via a two story fall, and five or six gun shots to the chest. Not long after Ronan is told that he cannot move to the afterlife until he has settled something back in the land of the living (by the way, youre a ghost). Quite obviously, the thing keeping you there is your murder, which sets you out on a murder mystery to find your killer. On top of your own, you also have the deaths of those after and prior to your own, all with the supposive same killer, going by the name, “The Bell Killer”. Eventually you meet up with a teenage medium that can talk to you and see you, and there is some side story about her mother, but thats not too important.
Overall, I personally adore the story here. There is a certain tone that the game achieves that just drew me in right from the beginning. The sense of dread, uncertainty, and a touch of noire, and I found that the story hit all the right notes for me. I love trying to be smarter than the game, and guessing the outcome hours before hand, and this game kept me guessing as I found more clues, and met more people who could be possible suspects. Although I will not spoil anything, I also love the direction the game went in the end, which I thought was pretty clever to separate itself from alike stories. Not to mention that I have a certain fascination with the city of Salem; basically the game somewhat was made for me.
As I said before, this is a murder case, which means detective work, and the best thing I can compare this to is a mix of The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, with N.A Noire. Although Murdered doesn't have as strong of gameplay as either of those two games, I thoroughly enjoyed the detective aspect here. There is a fair combination of different types of detective work going on. At points you have to find all the evidence to move on the plot. At other points, you have to piece together a person’s attitude and intent, just based on where they were standing at the crime scene. Personally I prefer the latter, I love linking things together just by what we are given, or have found, it actually feels like you are piecing things together bit by bit.
Unfortunately, there is a second part to the gameplay, and that is a stealth action style sections sprinkled out through the campaign. At certain point, Demons will pop up and start patrolling the area to find you. These parts feel unfinished and buggy when you actually go through it. You are given these, ghost portal things, that allow you to hide in plain sight from the demons while you wait to turn their back to go in for the kills. The reason why these are terrible segments is because the take down mechanic is near broken. I had about a 50/50 split when the animation actually wanted to play, and sometimes when it did, it would stop mid way through causing me to run away from the demons and wait until they went back on patrol. I died multiple times because the game just wouldn't allow me to do the takedown. These segments break the flow of the game and just feel like filler to make the game longer.
Aside from the main story, you are free to walk around Salem and explore. At a few places there are other spirits waiting for help, who are also stuck there because on an unsettled problems of their own. These are Murdered’s side quests, and sadly, there are not many of them. In total, I believe there were about, maybe 7, each of which can take you 5 minutes to complete. Each side quest has you doing a crime scene style investigation to figure out how that person died, or to determine if they have been/done wronged. Each side story is pretty different from one another, and I wish the game had more because there are some fairly interesting stories there. At that, there are also collectables strewn throughout the area that once you collect them all, unlocks a story of another death or horror story.
In the end, the game is not that difficult aside from the slight vagueness from time to time. The most frustrating parts are the stealth segments that happen much too often. The investigation parts can be a little too hand holding at times, directing you where to go, and at other times, actually require you to think, but never anything to fry your brain. Technical Aspect (Design, Graphics, and Bugs)
With us being on the divide of next gen, and last gen, which is odd to call the PS3 and X360 last gen, then games should start to be looking better than they ever have. With the last gen versions of next gen games seemingly having lower quality, games still tend to look good on the X360 on its own. Murdered is no exclusion. Although the game will not take any awards for Best Graphics, they are still pretty good all things considered. Lighting is nice, and the character models have good enough personality and detail to create a realistic portrayal of actual people. Even the open town of Salem looks pretty damn good, although I feel as if the low lighting in areas some muddy textures at times. There are a few areas in the town that feel too empty, but aside from that the city is properly populated and decorated to make it feel like an actual city. On the other hand, smaller areas how some noticeably low quality textures and odd area set up.
Being a ghost, you have the ability to walk through most walls. The game gives reason to why you cannot go into or exit buildings without there being an open door or window, but besides that, within those areas you are often times free to go where you please. However, in both the open world and levels alike, there are these ghostly walls that you cannot walk through, which is not a bad thing because it gives a good reason to not fully design a full area, but often times the game overdoes the blocking of your movement. The first level is set inside an apartment complex and if I’m right, there are no ghost walls to block you from going where you please, but by the last level, it might as well be a linear corridor. One of the last levels is set inside a museum, and in the level, you can barely explore because of all the restrictions. Now, this may be me, but I feel as if a museum would be a perfect place to explore as a ghost looking for clues and whatnot.
Murdered delivers full heartedly on the voice acting front. Ronan himself sounds like the smarmy, confident, cop that he is, while others like the one asshole cop, just has that voice that you immediately hate. Everyone in the game has some believeable lines which are delivered excellently.
The worst, and I mean single worst thing about this game, is its technical prowess. There are two single aspects that can ruin your experience while playing through. The first, being the camera. Because you can run through walls, of course the camera will occasionally get behind walls, or in a poor spot, but this happens far too often and seemingly when you are running away from a demon. The second aspect, is the frame rate. Oh sweet lord, the frame rate here is terrible, at times going down below 10 (which is not good at all). The slow down mostly occurs when you are roaming around Salem, but still, when you are in the city a good half of the play through, it becomes pretty noticeable quickly. There were times the game grinded to a halt and I had to wait until I was able to move again. On the slightly less aggravating side of things, the load times after you die can be pretty long at times, but only after you die.Achievements
In my one playthrough, I was able to get all but 4 achievements, and that was because I missed a few collectables. You can easily get every achievement in one run through, which will clock you in, at about 7 hours, maybe 9, if you hunt down every collectable. So if you are a fan of achievements like mine, then you will love the simple run of this game.Fun Factor
Even though I had some complaints, I still found this game incredibly enjoyable. The story alone kept me running from level to level, and the side stories in between gave me something to work at when I wanted a break. The investigation aspects of the game might not be as fully fledged out as something like L.A Noire, however, they are still enjoyable nonetheless. The only thing hindering my enjoyment were those god awful stealth segments, where I seemed to die more than I should, and the broken mechanics only lead to frustration. Conclusion
In the end, my anticipation of Murdered was not wrongly put forward. I still had a great time with the game even though it is clearly not the most lucrative thing in the gaming industry. The story was enough to see anyone through to the end, even though I realize I have a soft spot for many aspects the game has. In the end, I would say this might be one of the greatest hidden gems of 2014.
8.0/10+Amazing Story+Fun Detective Work+Great Voice Acting-Horrid Stealth Segments-Bad Frame Rate-Odd Camera