Similarly, Airtight Games struggle with the concept of possession. You can jump into anyone's body, but you can't actually control their actions. Instead, you simply hitchhike inside them, your abilities limited to reading their thoughts and occasionally using their patrol paths to pass certain obstacles.
It isn't merely individual mechanics that feel lacking or oddly restricted, the entire game feels severely underdeveloped, with no clue of how to make itself interesting to play. Salem is a semi-open town, but there are only two activities you can do in it. You can solve the problems of other ghost around town in side-investigations that are even more rudimentary than the already pretty asinine cases featured in the main plot. Or you can collect the masses of detailed but irrelevant information scattered around the town. Notes about the bell killer, historical documents, memories, remnants of other supernatural activity in the town, it's an overwhelming dump of lore that only exists to make Soul Suspect feel likes it has more substance than it does.
Soul Suspect is an extremely static game. Salem is more lifeless than O'Connor himself, a flat box of buildings and alleyways swathed in dreary shadow, where characters stand around gormlessly like film extras in between takes. The only time there's any dynamism to the proceedings is during stealth sections, where O'Connor must evade detection by prowling demons. The demons themselves are pretty creepy, twitching in and out of reality and unleashing a hideous scream when they spot you. Again though, these sections never evolve, and soon become a nuisance that must be dealt with before proceeding to the next stage of the investigation.
Yet none of these problems are as damaging to Soul Suspect as the fact that the story is abysmally told. For what it's worth, the standard of the voice-acting is fairly high, but even the shade of Lawrence Olivier couldn't invigorate Soul Suspect's script. I'll treat to a few choice lines in a moment, but first we should discuss what the central issue is. In the spirit of things, I'll give you clue:
Not exactly subtle, but neither is Soul Suspect. Every plot turn is so bloody obvious that you'll have deduced the next step in the case long, long
before O'Connor does. He is possibly the worst detective in crime fiction. So many times you'll hear him ponder "Could it be that..." and you'll scream "Yes! Of course that's what happened! There are amoeba trapped beneath the ice of Europa that worked this out before you did!"
This is partly why I found the game so funny, because this happens in every single investigation. There could be a man lying in the road with tyre tracks smeared across his squashed body, and a note pinned to his chest saying "I ran the bastard over. Yours Sincerely, Bell Killer," and O'Connor would stand there for five minutes wondering what the cause of death was.
Then, every half hour or so, a character would say something so monumentally idiotic that I'd burst out laughing. Here are a few of my favourites, all of which are courtesy of O'Connor.
• When looking at his pistol at his own murder scene: "My mom gave me that gun."
• When watching the residual memory of a child's murder with the ghost of said child: "This is the memory of your murder. You're too young. You shouldn't see this!"
• When looking at a judge's gavel in a museum dedicated entirely to Salem's Seventeeth-
Century Witch Trials. "I wonder how old that is."
Lastly, here is the best of this sorry bunch, preserved in screenshot form.
And so it goes, all the way through. I will point out that I was somewhat surprised (in a good way) by how the story eventually concludes. But I can hardly praise the tasty mint on top of my pillow if the entire hotel is on fire.
Although I rather perversely enjoyed watching Soul Suspect repeatedly crash into trucks filled with manure, don't let this fool you into thinking it is worthy of your time. It's about as bad as a game can get without being fundamentally broken. Airtight Games fail to make the ghost concept work at virtually every stage, and the whole experience is dragged into the mire by that demon of a script. There's never any point to bothering the dead. So it's best steer well clear of Murdered: Soul Suspect, and allow its tortured soul to rest in peace.