You would have to be a masochist to want to play this game with the keyboard and mouse, but some of us are like old dogs that find it hard to learn new tricks. If you're happy with the keyboard layout they give you, you might not end up with murder in your own heart, but if not ..... well, I'll let you fill in the blanks. More about that later.
If you're a person who likes murder mysteries and ghost stories, you're going to like Murdered Soul Suspect. Along with fairly good graphics, these aspects are the game's strengths. The rest of the elements that go into judging whether a game is worthy, such as combat, controls, and interfaces, are pretty mediocre and sometimes outright glitchy.
As far as the actual game, it's not bad. You play as Ronan O'Connor, a police detective who gets murdered by an unknown assailant within the first few minutes. Ronan's wife is also dead, but he can't join her in the happy-ever-after till he resolves his personal conflicts, which includes his own murder. The investigation leads to a trail of other unsolved crimes that point to The Bell Killer, a serial killer who has been murdering seemingly unrelated women. However, he is always disguised by a hood and no one has any clue to his identity.
Chapter 1 acts as a sort of tutorial, explaining what activities you can do as a ghost. Ronan cannot interact with the living, but hooks up with the teen-aged daughter of a spirit medium, who's own gift allows her to see and hear ghosts. Although Joy hates her abilities due to being overwhelmed by ghosts that continually plead with her for resolutions, she reluctantly agrees to help Ronan in exchange for his aid in finding her missing mother.
You do have several tricks at your disposal – possessing, eavesdropping, some limited influence with living people, and later, teleporting across gaps. You can also interact with other ghosts and pick up side missions from them using your detective skills to resolve their conflicts. These missions involve gathering clues and then choosing the most relevant from among them to solve the case. This will send them on their way into the light.
There's not much combat in this game, but what there is basically sucks. It relies on 3 QTE button presses with the second using the direction keys, which always change. I hate QTEs because it means taking your eyes off the game to watch for prompts and in this particular case, you have a very small window of opportunity. Fortunately, there is usually a way to dodge the enemy by hiding in the auras left by other ghosts. You can also see through walls and track the positions of the demons roaming the area. If they see you, they will start screeching, which is your clue to get out of there. You can quickly move from aura to aura to try to lose them.
The game location takes place in a fictional Salem of witch-trial fame and the story is based on historical events of the past which are affecting the present. For an old-gen game the graphics are pretty decent. I particularly thought that the main character renditions were really good. One flaw of the game is the lack of an in-game map or direction finder. Ronan can wander at will through many walls and around Salem, making it easy to get lost. The only help you get is a small arrow and distance meter to the next main story plot. Meanwhile, there are tons of collectibles to find and once you gather a predetermined number within each group, you will get part of a background story.
Every once in awhile you run across a game where you're on the point of giving up on trying to solve a particular problem and this one came within a hairsbreath for me on the keyboard control problem. You are unable to reconfigure them even through the input files. This led to the last ditch effort of installing the third party program AutoHotKey. However, I love it when people say “just use Autohotkey” like its easy-peasy without telling you that it's a whole program you have to learn how to use first. NOT. For the technically challenged like me, it took me ages to find a simple tutorial on changing a few keys and their own site didn't help by being more slanted toward the complex uses of the program. In the end, it is easy to use it for remapping, but finding the basic instructions wasn't. Another program you can use is Glovepie.
Regardless, in the end I rather enjoyed this game after using Autohotkey to remap controls. You may also run into a few menu glitches, but these are fixable in one way or another. The game is definitely worth playing, but as the developer closed their doors shortly after release, don't expect any fixes. You'll have to rely on fellow users to solve any problems.
Airtight Games was formed in 2004 and in collaboration with Capcom released their first title Dark Void in 2010. This was followed by Quantum Conundrum in 2012, a game directed by a former Valve employee and similar in spirit to Portal. Following this, they self published two mobile games and one Ouya console game. However, just weeks after Murdered Soul Suspect was released in 2014, the studio permanently closed their doors leaving technical support for the game up in the air and basically non-existent.
Despite its problems and lack of support, Murdered Soul Suspect is relatively popular and seems to prove that good subject matter and story-telling can cover a multitude of other sins. Once again, PC gamers prove their ingenuity at tweaking and resolving glitches without the support of developers and publishers. Thankfully, they are also willing to share solutions.