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Why Murdered: Soul Suspect Was Such A Huge Flop For Square Enix

Murdered: Soul Suspect is a mystery both in its plot and in its release. Developer Airtight games and Square Enix published the ghostly murder game in 2014 on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. Players took on the role of Ronan O'Conner, a Salem police detective who is tasked in the afterlife with solving his own murder by using his newfound supernatural abilities and deduction skills. Along the way, Ronan must avoid the demons that lurk in limbo with him. 

Ronan's story marked the final release for Airtight Games, which had been in operation for ten years. The studio released Dark Void in 2010 and went on to release Quantum Conundrum in 2012 and Soul Fjord in 2014. Although Murdered: Soul Suspect was released the same year as Soul Fjord, with no apparent production issues, the weeks that followed were filled with a mysterious Airtight Games halt and some lackluster reviews.

Airtight Games shut down after Murdered: Soul Suspect's release

Airtight's troubles seemed to begin in April 2014, when the studio announced that it laid off 14 staff members as part of a restructuring. Airtight creative director Jim Deal told IGN at the time, "This restructuring is part of the normal ebb and flow of game production. Existing projects are on schedule and Airtight Games is actively seeking partners for exciting upcoming projects." Additionally, Portal co-creator Kim Swift, who had left Valve for Airtight in 2009, departed for Amazon Games Studio that same month.

Murdered: Soul Suspect released as planned in June 2014, but Airtight suddenly shut down just weeks after. As GeekWire reported, the Washington-based studio closed its doors and sold its equipment at discounted prices. Even Airtight's awards from the E3 convention were left behind. A connection between Murdered: Soul Suspect's performance and Airtight's closing wasn't confirmed, but fans did speculate that it had to do with over-budgeting for the game and mixed reception.

Murdered: Soul Suspect was another flop for Airtight

Critics gave Murdered: Soul Suspect some mediocre reviews, which may have been the final tipping point for Airight. After all, Dark Void, Quantum Conundrum, and Soul Fjord all received similar reviews, making this the fourth not-so-great game for Airtight. When it came to Murdered: Soul Suspect, IGN gave the game a 5 out of 10, noting that it felt "undercooked or underutilised," and like Airtight had lots of "unfinished business." Meanwhile, Game Informer said it had "shoddy investigation gameplay."

On the other hand, Murdered: Soul Suspect's average reception may have come down to publisher Square Enix. A Reddit user who claimed to have inside info on the situation wrote that a producer from Square Enix micro-managed Murdered: Soul Suspect to the point where Airtight couldn't turn it into a better game. "[Square Enix] sent one of their guys down to Redmond to oversee the project and he made them scrap everything they had worked on which meant they were automatically behind schedule and over budget as soon as that happened," the person claimed. Thus, according to this story, Airtight couldn't bring the game to its full potential.