The lights are on
First off, I need to give you some back story on the developer who made the game. Once I understood the conditions this game was made under, it greatly helped me understand why the game is the way it is.
Airtight Games is an semi-independent studio comprised of some former Microsoft employees and managed under the umbrella of Square Enix. (a mainly Asian company). There most notable game prior to Murdered: Soul Suspect, was 2010's Dark Void. A game placing players in a jetpack and tasked with destroying an alien threat in the Bermuda triangle. Needless to say, it was a forgettable title. (unfortunately).
When development began on Murdered:Soul Suspect, the team was mainly comprised of people with an "Asian" background. Though the team did have a few "westerners" on it's team, there ideas were mainly focused in the Asian culture. So the idea of a "ghost" seeking revenge on his killer, we're two completely different ideas to two very different cultures. (Google "the difference between Asian ghost story's and American ghost story's" and you'll see what I'm talking about). The developer gave an interview detailing how the differing views of the development team could at times make the overall vision for the game, hard to accomplish. And they ran into many problems because of the cultural differences. Eventually they decided to make a game focused on the "Western" markets.
So with that background in mind here's my review...............
1. COMBAT: Combat is often the most focused on aspect of just about every game made. This game has very little combat. The ONLY combat you will encounter are the few times you have to fight "demons". There are about 8-10 total encounters of the combat system in this entire game. It is essentially a stealth experience, and very easy to master. I never died in the entire game. The combat seems as though it was added after the entire game was finished. It has virtually no impact on the game whatsoever. At best, the combat is an afterthought.
2. THE CAMPAIGN: the campaign is about 20 hours long with many cutscenes, and more character dialogue than most games. The cutscenes never last long, but are frequent.
3. THE STORY: The story is the best part of this game! I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh take on the villains motivations for why they were killing people, and as a BIG history buff, the attempts to weave the story in and out of real events that happened in history,we're masterfully done. The story is the real star of this game.
4. ART DIRECTION, COLLECTIBLES, ETC : The look of the game is very cool. The real world is inundated with color and vibrancy. (even though the entirety of the game takes place at night). While the world of the dead, is only seen in various hughes of gray and blue. Its a stark contrast of the two worlds living in a single game space, and it comes off feeling like one world, not two.
If your not involved in the story, and not at one of the moments where combat is an option, the majority of the game will be collecting various collectibles. A large portion of the achievements/trophys are dedicated to tracking them all done. There are different groups of collectibles, each with its own trophy, and in total there are about 250 of them. During my playtime I found over 200 of them without even trying to look for them. This is the bulk of the gameplay experience.
The story was great enough that I didn't care about the lack of any real combat. The characters felt real, and I cared about what happened to ALL of them. The game looked great on my 60inch LED while playing the xbox1 version. The soundtrack does a great job of setting the mood. Though unfortunately there's never really a threat lurking around the other corner. I stuck to story, ignored the extras, and still received just over 750 achievements points. So for all you achievement hunters, this is an easy 1000 points / easy Platinum Trophy. In my humble opinion, this game had the potential to be a really unique experience. Such as Beyond: Two Souls, or Heavy Rain, or even one of my personal favorites, Alan Wake! The cultural differences clearly affected the development of the game. And it's a shame. Because if done right, this could have been on my list for a game of the year candidate. But alas.........it's not perfect.........but I'd still recommend it to anybody who enjoys a great novel in the "Thriller" genre.
I wouldn't say the campaign is twenty hours long. I watched every cutscene, completed every sidequest, collected every artifact, and completed the game just under ten hours.