I recently had the opportunity to venture down to Square Enix’s HQ and try out Murdered: Soul Suspect, a game that’s been gathering a lot of attention since its E3 reveal last year. I played a one hour build of the game and came out quite impressed. It’s a game that tends to lend itself to other types of games and mix them together into one unique, progressively interesting game that fans of crime/detective/supernatural media will most likely take a liking to.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is a game that eludes from Square Enix’s tried-and-true formula. It isn’t a JRPG, or an FPS – or anything like that at all for that matter. Murdered: Soul Suspect is a third-person action adventure game developed by Airtight Games and of course, published by Square Enix.
The game opens with a nearly jarring amount of backstory to the main character, Ronan O’Connor. Each important moment that occurs in his life is represented by a tattoo of some sort on his body and that’s basically how the game introduces you to his life. It’s an interesting way to start the story and while there is a lot of content delivered to you very quickly, it’s all quite simple and understandable. Switching to the games present day, we catch Ronan flying out of a window – presumably falling to his death and catching a glimpse of a hooded figure, who’ll most likely be the games antagonist, looking down on him out of the window he whence came. This basically sets up the story of Murdered: Soul Suspect, as Ronan sets out on a quest to find his killer and finally pass on to the world above. It’s an interesting premise for a game, and I’ve never seen anything like it before so I was invested very quickly into the story.
The gameplay in Murdered: Soul Suspect is very similar to a normal third-person game and that’s absolutely fine. There’s no need for it to be any different. Navigating the area I was in was a breeze and seriously, walking around as a ghost is both enchantingly cool and incredibly creepy. You can pass through objects, possess the living and interact with other-worldly things. I really enjoyed the fact that the game is driving home the supernatural detective element so much as it’s such unfamiliar territory for me and I’m a big fan of both of those genres in media.
My play-through consisted of piecing together various segments of evidence to make a connection to the killer and where he might have run off to. While that really just involved examining a gun, some window glass on the ground and other things around that – what made things interesting was possessing others in order to find out more about their perspectives on the crime. Possessing others brought up a menu-like area on the screen that is comprised of four options that are represented by the face buttons. Each option dictates what you can do, from eavesdropping, to peaking in on notes – each had their own unique approach to help aid Ronan in his investigation. By the time the police arrived, they had quarantined the area where my body had been laying for a while and started interviewing witnesses and jotting down possible ideas as to why the killer did what they did. The goal (after looking at all of the clear evidence at the scene of the crime) was to possess the others and find out what they had known. This led to possessing a couple of cops – the first officer was looking at some of his jotted-down notes about the crime and then eavesdropping on another set of officers having a conversation. The fun began when I took possession of a witness and had to jot her memory to make her talk about the murderer. This came down to a small mini game-like sequence where all of the clues I had just gone over came up on screen and I had to pick the most relevant one. If I didn’t pick the right one after three attempts I’d assume I’d have to start again as there’s a small area at the bottom of the screen with three badges that decreases every time you make a wrong choice within the mini-game. It’s very interesting and something I really enjoyed about the game. Having these kind of sequences not only made for an intellectual connection between myself and the game, but it forced me to think logically about the crime and examine the evidence one more time to pick the correct clue that would help continue to investigation.
“What made things interesting was possessing others in order to find out more about their perspectives on the crime.”
After the investigation was completed, I moved into the house where I had ultimately met my end. In comes another game-changer. Demons. People who have been trapped in this realm for too long and couldn’t resolve something in their life that had been holding them back from leaving the earth after their death. Demons act as a scout-like being. They move through hallways looking for ghosts to suck the souls out of. To combat them, you either can hide in ghostly mists that pop up whenever a Demon does (and Demon’s can’t track you while you’re in these hiding zones) but don’t be fooled, as they will eventually start examining the mists and if you’re still hiding in the one you slipped into after it spotted you, it’ll grab you out and try to suck your soul dry. The trick to this is to move in-between these hiding spots as they are littered throughout the area and you can swiftly move from one to another without having to show yourself to the Demon. It’s an awesome addition to the gameplay and one I really enjoyed as it adds to the supernatural tone of the game. You can destroy demons too, but to do that you have to sneak up behind them and press a specific button combination that comes up on screen. It’s always a random combination so being ready for anything is key to destroying the darkness of the ghost world.
After moving through the upstairs area and piecing together some evidence once more, there were various little instances where instead of possessing someone for clues – you could bring back a memory from a character that’s been implanted in the area. This accounted for both a witness and the murderer and when I interacted with these memories I was thrown into a flashback sequence that showed what the character had been doing in the lead up moments before Ronan had entered the area. It was an interesting way of doing things, and again added a different dynamic to the gameplay and the overall vibe of the game.
Overall, I was genuinely impressed with Murdered: Soul Suspect. It’s a leap in a different direction for Square Enix, but one that could ultimately pay off for them as it’s so unique and enchanting that I just can’t wait to get my hands on it again in the future. Gamers that enjoy games like L.A Noire and Fatal Frame (besides the fact that this isn’t scary) will take a liking to the vibe and the gameplay of Soul Suspect quite a lot. Like I said before, I’m a big fan of the crime/detective/supernatural genres so this is definitely something I’m interested in. The story seems to give a strong backdrop to your actions and the fact that you’re a ghost for the whole game and have a nice amount of options to investigate scenes and pursue your killer adds a lot of interesting elements to the game and makes it feel both refreshing and unique. This is definitely a game I’m looking forward to.
Murdered: Soul Suspect hits shelves 6th June 2014 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.