It’s so rare that you ever find a concept as intriguing or unique as Murdered: Soul Suspect. Airtight Games and Sqaure Enix’s brand new IP breaks all the rules of modern game design to give a rich gameplay experience that is more about discovery and solving puzzles than shooting down tons of terrorists.
Murdered: Soul Suspect begins with Ronan O’Connor’s murder. The detective is thrown out of window and then shot multiple times by a mysterious assailant. Due to this, his spirit remains on Earth as ghost and is determined to figure out who the murderer is.
If you played Heavy Rain then think back to the criminal investigation sequence close to the beginning of the game. Murdered: Soul Suspect plays very similarly to that with Ronan being able to observe crime scenes and evidence to piece together what really happened. However, the game takes this concept even further with more ways to investigate. Ronan is able to possess people in order to look at objects through other’s eyes, listen in on conversations and even read the thoughts of subjects. After enough evidence is gathered the player can answer the question plaguing the scene. In the demo, the scene asked, “How was I murdered,” with Ronan collecting evidence to piece together the answer.
As a ghost Ronan is not subject to the physical limitations of having a physical body. Players will be able to traverse all over the place, as long as it is within the parameters of the level. In the demo, Ronan passed through walls in order to explore the hotel he was thrown from. Also, as a ghost, Ronan is able to interact with environment and freak humans out. He can also interact with other ghosts in order to initiate side quests like helping a woman find out where her body was dumped. There’s actually quite a lot to do in the game and many ways to go about doing them.
If there is one complaint I have it is the unnecessary demon battles. Demons are ghosts who have become corrupted after spending long periods of time on this Earth. They believe they can become uncorrupted by devouring the souls of other ghosts. These are formidable opponents that can’t be attacked outright. So, a stealth mechanic? Kind of, but it is very underdeveloped. Ronan can’t crouch or sprint away. All he can do is walk casually. In order to defeat the demons Ronan must sneak up on them and surprise attack them. This can be done by sneaking up behind them through walls or possessing humans to get close. From what I was shown the mechanic feels pointless and tacked on. Perhaps the demon fights will get better as the game progresses, but for now it is not as exciting as surveying crime scenes and collecting evidence, which the demo quickly got back to after a few demon fights.
What surprised me the most is the fact that Murdered: Soul Suspect is a current-gen title for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. The game looks absolutely spectacular. The areas are small allowing for extra detail to be put into the models and textures. Ronan in particular was very well done and actually looks like he might be next-gen. As of now, Murdered: Soul Suspect has not been confirmed for PS4 or Xbox One.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is probably one of the biggest surprised of E3 2013. It would be easy to dismiss the game as not fun because there isn’t any shooting or action, but that would be a gross misconception. Murdered: Soul Suspect was a delight to see in action and I am quite interested to see the game some more.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is out early 2014 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.