XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - CONTENTS - Adam Bryant

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’”

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