Murdered: Soul Suspect is an upcoming action-adventure, detective-styled game developed by Airtight Games (published by Square Enix) in development for PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, and Xbox One. During PAX East, I got the chance to sit down with the game and play about the first half hour of it.
Murdered: Soul Suspect was definitely one of the best titles in attendance at PAX East. As something that I can only describe as a cross between Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective and Beyond: Two Souls, the game is a narrative-driven one that puts you in the afterlife of a man named Detective Ronan O’Connor who was murdered and has returned as a ghost so he may solve his murder.
As is explained fairly early in the game, the most interesting part of Murdered: Soul Suspect is its interesting narrative-driven gameplay. Indeed, Ronan is a fairly jaded man and quite a vocal one as far as characterization is concerned. Upon death, he learns of these varying powers and abilities that ghosts have. Ronan’s reaction to these revelations are every bit as volatile as you’d imagine: crazed, excited, confused, but curious. Scruffy and jaded as Ronan may seem, following him through his death and his ghostly reincarnation really makes players feel as though they can connect with him.
And even more exciting still is that this detail of characterization isn’t limited to just the central characters. Indeed, just about everyone in Murdered: Soul Suspect is intricately fleshed out. That is, from the demo played, there does not appear to be any stock, flat characters, which is a difficult feat to accomplish. True to Square Enix fashion, characterization is as important an element as ever.
Gameplay is also a treat to partake in. Though you are a ghost, Murdered: Soul Suspect manages to play out as a detective game. Gameplay involves you stumbling upon a scene and examining all subtle, relevant elements that provide clues or leads that take you one step closer to solving the mystery. Along the investigation, you will make your own judgments about the evidence, that move you along paths to the truth. Additionally, Ronan has the ability to possess the living, allowing him to influence their minds regarding what they say, helping extract valuable information. It’s an intricately fascinating ability, as you get to peer into the minds of these NPCs, who each have a story to tell and motivations driving their actions.
One fantastic thing about Murdered: Soul Suspect that truly ties everything together is the fantastic atmosphere that AirTight has established. The world of Murdered is dark and quiet. Much like yourself, the world feels very dead. Everything is outlined and shrouded in a bluish-white haze. Music is light and subtle, feeling more like an accent than a prevailing feature. Characters, while fully realized, are anxious, impatient, and concerned, adding a sense of repressed urgency to everything going on. Even things as simple as the writing that often flashes across your screen to describe something is scratchy, reminiscent of writing on the wall with blood, helping set the tone. Ultimately, so many different things come together in Murdered: Soul Suspect that help augment the element of eeriness and mysticism that pervades your adventure.
All in all, Murdered: Soul Suspect was one of the best games on show at PAX East 2014. An interesting story mixed with elements of detective-sleuth gameplay will keep you pining over “what will happen next.” All fans of complex narrative and narrative-driven gameplay should be looking forward to Murdered’s launch this summer on June 3rd.