MURDERED: SOUL SUSPECT
They just don’t make them like they used to. That’s the old adage that older generations cry when things change and they want to reminisce on the halcyon days. However, in the case of Murdered: Soul Suspect, I feel this is true, or maybe I’m just getting old.
Now, I’m not saying that Murdered is a spectacular game. It’s not. It’s fairly short, the combat is less than inspiring, and it has little to no replay value. That said, it permeates a certain quality and charm that against all my better judgement has me wanting to return to it every so often, and is the reason I’m coming back to it now. It’s a game that doesn’t fit into any particular genre, and these niche, hard-to-define games are becoming few and far between, especially for big studios.
One of the reasons I enjoy it so much is that it managed to hook me in right from the start. The opening sequence that introduces you to the main character is possibly one of the most effectively succinct introductions I’ve ever witnessed in a game. In the space of a few minutes I’m already invested in the story, and know everything I need to know about the protagonist without feeling like I’ve just been force-fed exposition.
A dying breed
The other reason is that the whole premise of the game is unique and intriguing. You play heavy smoker and police detective with a troubled past Ronan O’Connor, who’s managed to track down a serial killer, known as The Bell Killer, that’s been terrorizing the town of Salem, Massachusetts, to an apartment building. A short while later The Bell Killer throws you from the top floor of said building and pumps seven hot lead bullets into your chest, ending your life, as well as your investigation, or so it seems. You return as a ghost (as do your cigarettes) and, with the help of a young medium called Joy, set out to investigate your own murder so that you can pass on to the afterlife and reunite with your long-deceased wife, Julia. That’s right, you get to investigate your own murder! How cool is that? It even integrates the history of the Salem witch trials in an interesting way. Unfortunately not many people seemed to think so, as the game received mixed reviews and suffered from poor sales, which sadly resulted in the closure of Airtight Games just a month after the game’s release. Interestingly, it looked like the studio was aware of its fate well before it happened. Early on in the game, you have to visit a police station in order to release one of your leads who’s being held in custody. As you wander around the station there’s a few Easter eggs you can find, including the computer desktop screensaver showing the
Human Revolution menu screen. But one comes in the form of a series of Post-it notes found on a bulletin board. It’s hard to see, but you can just make out that one of them reads “85 on Metacritic, or we’re screwed”. It must have been difficult knowing that you’re given the ultimatum of having to get a high aggregate score in order to continue making games.
It would be great to see more of these niche games from large studios in the future, but the likelihood is that we won’t, and that’s quite sad. There’s something quite special about this game, so if you haven’t already done so give it a shot. Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
“You can just make out a Post-it note on a bulletin board that reads ‘85 on Metacritic, or we’re screwed’”