Pardon the caps in the title; that’s how the game is listed in my Steam library. There’s also a superscript “TM” after it, but I felt including that here would’ve been obnoxious and unnecessary.
So let me start this off by saying I freaking LOVED this game.
Murdered: Soul Suspect was developed Airtight Games and published by Square Enix, and was released on June 3rd, 2014, a week after Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs. I didn’t start playing Murdered until nearly a month after it was released, which is a real shame. While playing it, I realized I should’ve used some of the time I spent on Watch Dogs to play Murdered instead. I definitely enjoyed Murdered more (I’m not comparing the two – apples and oranges, as they say – just stating my level of enjoyment).
I finished Murdered in two sittings. According to Steam, I logged a total of six hours in the game.
Six hours for $50. Some people complained about that. Not me. I’d much rather pay fifty or sixty bucks for a solid six-hour experience than for a thirty-hour crapfest. And Murdered is certainly no crapfest. It’s not bad looking, the acting and dialogue are both solid, and the story’s pretty good; a few clichéd elements here and there, but also a twist or two, which I always appreciate (if I don’t see them coming, which I usually do, but not this time). It’s not a perfect game, but it deserved a wider audience than it got.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is probably not going to be considered a financial success, if it hasn’t been written off as an outright failure already (I don’t know, I’m not in the “loop”). It caught my eye at E3 2013, over a year ago, but I heard almost nothing about it for a long time afterward. I’m no marketing expert, but that doesn’t seem like a good plan. Hell, the hype machine never stopped for, say, Watch Dogs. Or maybe it’s the premise behind it. A detective story where you don’t shoot people? Maybe that just didn’t sit well with gamers.
In the end, it seems no one wanted to take a chance on Murdered. Once I mentioned to friends or posted on social media that I was playing it, more people asked if it was any good than they had about any other game, ever. But I can’t really say if they’ll like it. I liked it, and it pisses me off it didn’t do better, because I want more games like this. I want to see AAA developers and publishers taking chances, and they won’t if we aren’t willing to shell out cash for something that’s not a sequel or a reboot or a remake.
And I’ll concede that I may be in the minority there. Nothing I can do about that. As ever, I’ll try to remain optimistic.
This situation reminds me of a movie that came out back in 2000 called ‘The Way of the Gun,’ written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, the Academy Award-winning writer of ‘The Usual Suspects.’ I was working in a 22-screen multiplex at the time as a projectionist, and my coworkers and I were pretty psyched to see this movie. It was booked in our biggest auditorium, number eleven. Stadium seating, THX certification, the works.
And no one came to see it. It did so poorly, in fact, that for its second week we moved it to one of our smallest theaters, and only for a few shows a day (the rest of the day we showed ‘X-men,’ which had been out for nearly two months at that point. It was directed by Bryan Singer, who also directed ‘The Usual Suspects.’ Neat!).
And there was no third week. In a theater with 22 auditoriums, we couldn’t make room for such a poor performer. We loved it, and we were sad to see it go. As one of my coworkers put it: “you just can’t put an intelligent movie in the hands of American filmgoers.”
‘The Way of the Gun’ did enjoy some success in the home-video market. I’m actually on my second copy of the DVD, having sold the first for food or drugs or something. I want to see more movies like this, but with the numbers coming back so poorly, what major film company is going to chance on something like it in the future? Movies, like videogames, are expensive endeavors. And reboots and remakes and sequels are just safer investments. The more interesting stuff is left for the independent studios, which have limited resources and reach, to take a chance on. It’s a damn shame.
I’ll tell you this. If fifty bucks is too much for you to pay for a six-hour experience, no matter how good it is, wait a while and pick up Murdered: Soul Suspect on the cheap. You won’t regret it.
Author’s note: Directly after posting this, I read that Airtight Games had shut their doors. Sad news.
(Screenshots by me. Click for full-size, they turned out pretty good. Movie poster belongs to the filmmakers, and its use here is considered Fair Use under US Copyright Law. Go ahead, look it up.)