First Impressions: Murdered – Soul Suspect

What is it with game companies & putting multiple titles on their games?  I can sort of understand for games that are part of a series, although personally I still prefer the number system.  At least that way I can tell at a glance where in the sequence a particular game comes in.  But what do I make of a title like Murdered: Soul Suspect?  Wordplay aside, are there going to be more Murdered games?

I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.  At least it’s not a re-title, like Murdered: Revenge, Redemption, Remastered or whatever catchphrase is trending.

I got Soul Suspect for my birthday, but due to being on vacation at the time I just now got around the playing it.  I think it’s best described as a mystery-adventure game.  The protagonist of our game is Ronan O’Connor, a former criminal, cop &, as of the start of the game, living person.  Yes, videogames are fond of killing the main character’s loved ones in the beginning of the game for motivation, but in this case it’s the main character who’s dead.  In fact, Ronan dies in the opening cutscene.  A serial killer dubbed the  Bell Killer shoots Ronan with his own sidearm, & now you have to help Ronan track the killer down.  Or else Ronan will be stuck in limbo forever.

A lot of the game so far has involved looking for clues to help solve the next piece of the bigger mystery.  But being a ghost has its advantages.  Ronan can possess people, allowing him to see through their eyes, read their thoughts & even influence their memories to uncover clues.  So far the investigations follow the pattern of finding X number of clues in the environment, then using those clues to draw conclusions.  Some conclusions can’t be reached until you find the necessary evidence.  And not all evidence is relevant.  For example, in the second main investigation, the clues point to the Bell Killer having been in the apartment looking for a psychic girl who is now missing.

However, it can be difficult to tell the game what it wants to hear even if you know what conclusions to draw from a scene.  It seems that to Influence someone’s memory, you have to pick the right clue, but it’s hard to tell what the game wants.  For instance, in the first optional murder Ronan can solve, it was obvious that the murderers were the old couple, & that they’d taken the woman’s body to the quarry, but I got a lower score because I originally selected the wrong clues as being relevant.

There’s also a bit a stealth in the game.  The limbo world that Ronan wanders in is also inhabited by demons that want to devour his soul.  But as you can’t really kill a demon, Ronan has to hide from them in spiritual residue before sneaking up on them & exorcising them.  It hasn’t been that difficult so far, thanks to Ronan being able to “see” the demons, but I find myself struggling thanks to my continued unfamiliarity with the PS4 controller’s button scheme.  I keep screwing up the quick-time events & have to hide again until they forget I’m there.  But that’s not really the game’s fault.  I’m just so use to the XBox controls that I don’t instinctively know where Circle is.

So far I’ve enjoyed what little I’ve played of Soul Suspect.  I like adventure games, & this one seems to avoid a lot of the adventure game logic.  I also like Ronan’s character so far.  It’s still early in the game, but he seems likable enough.  One of those rough-around-the-edges but generally good guys.  Also, I know a lot of people fussed about Ronan’s design, talking smack about him wearing a fedora like a hipster.  But I like his design.  It’s nice to see a male protagonist that isn’t your clean-cut Nathan Drake lookalike or some grizzled bodybuilder.  He looks like a cop who used to be a gangster.

And what’s wrong with fedoras, anyway?  I myself have been known to rock a trilby (which is often mistaken for a fedora) on occasion.  In fact, I vow right now that every time I play Murdered: Soul Suspect, I’ll wear my favorite trilby just to spite all the hipsters & hipster-haters.  I may even break out my vest, skinny jeans & pocket watch & really get into character.

MURDERED-ONLINE-PREVIEW-9_1393429501

- GamerDame

1 Comment

Filed under First Impressions

Game Review: Loren The Amazon Princess

After much deliberation, during my vacation I finally decided to purchase a game that I’d had on my Steam wishlist for a while.  Loren The Amazon Princess.  An Indie RPG, it promised a deep & immersive, old-school experience for gamers who were tired of watered down RPGs.  As I found both the idea behind the game’s plot & the promises intriguing, I decided to check it out.

Is Loren really the best Amazon name they could think of?

Is Loren really the best Amazon name they could think of?

As the title suggests, our main hero is Loren, an Amazon princess who rushes off on a quest to find her mother, the Queen, who has disappeared.  What starts as a simple quest quickly becomes something bigger as Loren gets dragged into a war between elves & humans, stumbles across a blade that proclaims her as the gods’ chosen hero, & learns of a plot by an ancient demon.  However, you aren’t Loren.  You’re her servant.  A slave.  Either as Saren (a human male) or Elenor (an elf female), you follow Loren on her quest, protecting her from evil plots & her own naivety about the outside world.  And maybe even make your own path in the world.

Choose your hero

Choose your hero

Loren has been described as a mix of visual novel & RPG, which I think is an accurate way to describe the gameplay.  On the one hand, there are a lot role-playing opportunities.  In addition to selecting a basic character build, you get to choose your background & class.  There are also opportunities to pick responses that shape your character’s personality & influence romance options.  The combat is tactical turn-based.  The battlefield takes place on a 2×3 grid, where you can have up to six allies.  The front row is for melee fighters who deal the heaviest direct damage while also protecting the back row, where archers & mages work best by attacking at a distance.  Certain attacks can also incur status (like Weakened, Fear, Frozen) that can be taken advantage of.

If you’re unfamiliar with this form of combat, I recommend checking out the Armor Game “Monster Den,” which uses the same system.  It’s free, & you can see if this style works for you.

Narrative: It’s been a long time since I’ve found any story, let alone a game story, as compelling as this.  Originally, I was just going to test out the game for a bit, & six hours later I had to stop because I was getting a headache.  I really like the idea of you not actually playing as the “chosen one,” but being a hero in your own right.  It’s interesting to see the progression of relationships in the game.  You start as just a slave (a valued slave, but a slave nonetheless) & your interactions with Loren in the beginning reinforce that.  But things change throughout the story.  The same is true for your interactions with the other characters.  Everything progresses nicely.  I also liked that the game doesn’t begin with you trying to fight a demon, but rather builds up to it in a very natural way.  The other characters are predictable but intriguing in their own way, & offer a nice variety of personalities.  And even though the story is told primarily through dialogue boxes, it’s very well-written.  There was one point in particular near the end where I was glued to my screen, imagining the scene unfold before me.  I also thought the game did a good job of offering the player choices.  The story unfolds differently based on your decisions.  For example, in Act 1 there’s an option to distract the guards & escape to elven territory or try to escape from jail.  Whichever you picks alters the story greatly.  You also have a wide variety of romance options to suit everyone’s tastes.  That was another impressive aspect, that as your “Affection” with a character grows, you unlock extra scenes that show the growing relationship.  Overall, it’s a great story that has good pacing, good characters & good writing.  Score: 5

Combat isn't quite as dull as it looks

Combat isn’t quite as dull as it looks

Mechanics: Although the combat is slow, which is typical of turn-based games, I thought the added strategy of the grid system made it a bit more interesting.  You have to examine enemies’ weakness & use your allies skills accordingly.  This also makes it important to balance your party.  There were several portions where your party gets split up, so it’s important to vary your strategies & not leave one party member weaker than the others.  But really, other than the combat & narrative aspects, there isn’t much else to do in the game.  It’s very story-focused, which it claims to be.  You can travel to different areas as you please, but aside from advancing the story or gaining fame in a town (which lowers to cost of items), there isn’t anything to do.  Eventually the game offers character quests if you’ve talked to your party enough, but those still follow the same formula.  Score: 3

Some scenes warrant special stills

Some scenes warrant special stills

Aesthetics: Unfortunately, the music was mostly forgettable.  It wasn’t bad, but there were only a few pieces that really stuck out.  The combat music is the worst offender, with I think only two looping tracks.  The graphics are that of a visual novel, meaning most “cutscenes” involve reading dialogue boxes with the relevant character standing in their given pose with changing expressions to match the scene.  That being said, the visuals are quite nice.  But there are some scenes that have their own images, I just wish there were more for the major scenes.  However, I feel I have to emphasize the importance of the narrative & the player’s imagination.  Because there was one scene, where the romance was reaching its end, that even though all I had was some text & an image of a moonlit forest, I could “see” the scene as plain as day.  Also, I didn’t know this until I was doing some research, but apparently the Steam version is a censored version.  There’s a workaround if you buy from Steam, but the developer’s site has the uncensored version.  However, the developer has assured that no scenes were removed from the game.  The only difference between the versions is a bit more fan-service all around (i.e. more cleavage & bare chests on both genders).  Score: 4

Censored v. Uncensored version

Censored v. Uncensored version

Replay Value: High.  Between class choices, romance choices, story choices & dialogue choices, Loren has a high replay value.  It doesn’t hurt that beating the game for the first time unlocks a Cheat mode that lets you breeze through the combat to experience the story.  Score: 5

Breakdown

untitled

Overall Score: 4

Final Word: If you’re looking for an RPG that’s story & character driven, & you don’t mind reading, Loren the Amazon Princess is a great game.  The visual novel style & slow combat might not appeal to everyone, however.

- GamerDame

Title: Loren the Amazon Princess
Console: PC, iOS & Android
Rating: M
Developer: Winter Wolves
Publisher: Winter Wolves
Release Date: April 30, 2012

Leave a comment

Filed under 4, PC, Reviews, RPG