Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Airtight Games
Release Date: 6/3/2014
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I haven’t been so misled by a game than Murdered. A murder mystery game about a cult in Salem, Massachusetts (my favorite type of murder mystery) all wrapped around a serial killer known as the Bell Killer. You play a ghost detective named Ronan who gets murdered by this killer during an investigation. You have a bratty teen named Joy who helps you in the real world and the story all comes to a nice close at the very end.
It’s everything in between that really disappoints. This game not only feels about 10 years old but is sometimes downright boring. In each area, you have items that need to be “examined” this turns into pixel hunting like the adventure games of yore. Sometimes I found myself too frustrated because the examine button wouldn’t come up unless you were facing it just the right way, that’s glitchy and annoying. Once you find all clues in an area you conclude the investigation by picking three of the clues that relate to the scene. This is where some of the nonsense gameplay comes into play. Most of the time you don’t even need all the clues to conclude and most clues are pointless for the scene. I feel like I’m hunting for all these clues as just filler for gameplay.
Is there any combat? Not really. A shoehorned combat scenario was put in by sneaking around demons and executing them with weird button combos. Sneaking around them is pretty tense, as is running from them. But was this merely an excuse to be able to die in the game to call it a full-on game? The only other way I died in the game was getting hit by a ghost train in one area. There’s also an open world that is boring and lifeless. The game is also full of items to find which is archaic and just plain boring. Why would I run around in an empty boring world finding items I could care less about?
There are actually rules to this game though. Just because you’re a ghost you can’t walk through everything otherwise you’d be clipping into the gaming abyss. Most items can’t be walked through and ones that can’t have a blue aura around them. You can teleport yourself which only comes in handy for a few parts of the game. You can possess people to read their minds or influence them during an investigation. This isn’t nearly as cool as it should be.
The only thing that kept me going was the story. The twists and turns were just interesting enough to make you think you figured it out and then it turns out to be something else. The game actually has a satisfying ending with no cliffhanger. When I played through this whole game I just couldn’t help but feel how dated it looked and played. The graphics, while not ugly, are simple and boring. This game would have looked amazing about 5 years ago. I also didn’t feel an attachment to any characters because of how boring and cookie-cutter they felt. Ronan is just your typical New England cop, Joy is a snotty goth brat, and the other characters don’t really show up enough for you to care about them. Soul Suspect had a lot of potentials but in the end, it felt like there wasn’t really a goal of what to do outside of the story.
If you’re a fan of adventure games I would give this a shot. Murdered isn’t going to revolutionize the nearly forgotten point-and-click adventure style gameplay, but it is worth slogging through the gameplay for the interesting story.