E3 2013: Murdered: Soul Suspect First Look Preview – Spirit Sleuthing
Written Sunday, June 16, 2013 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Who killed Detective Ronan O'Connor? That, in a nutshell is the plot of Murdered: Soul Suspect, summed up in a single five word sentence (unless the 'O' bit counts, in which case it's six), and it's all the impetus you'll need for unravelling the mystery at the game's core. In development at Dark Void studio Airtight Games (wait! Come back!), Murdered is set in the small American town of Salem, picking up with O'Connor seemingly falling through a window to his death. It's time to play Columbo and solve the crime...
Shot seven times at point blank range having been dropped several feet from a window, there's no doubt that Ronan O'Connor is very much dead, and it's your job to play as the ghostly apparition of the deceased detective and discover who murdered you. Starting at the crime scene, our first look hands-off opens with an idiotic police officer tampering with the evidence, trying on O'Connor's fedora. “You should have tried to be one of us,” he says as he places the hat back on the body. “Man, you were one dumb son of a bitch.”
Evidently, O'Connor wasn't all that popular when he was alive then, but as a ghost trapped in the limbo realm of 'The Dusk', you'll have a shot at redemption. As O'Connor's spirit, you're able to pick apart the crime scene, isolating and piecing together clues to gradually make deductions in a bid to eventually close the net on your killer; a mysterious man shrouded in a hood. Your first objective is to hit the killer's trailer while it's still warm, starting by examining your own corpse at the scene.
You're then able to possess witnesses to influence their testimony to the police, or you can see through the eyes of officers at the scene to glean useful information from their notebooks. You can also access psychic imprints of recent tragic events to add further clues and useful tidbits to your case, while talking to other lost ghosts in The Dusk enables you to complete benevolent side missions that help your fellow spirits find peace. You'll also meet a mysterious ghost girl who paints runes, revealing informative snippets of Salem's murky past.
Following each piece of the puzzle you slot into place, you earn police badge rewards that count towards your XP total, while accurately describing crime scenes using a list of words highlighted using a reticule when examining memory residues in the environment adds to your understanding of events. From describing Ronan's body, the window he fell from and the weapon, you're able to deduce that you were in fact pushed and that furthermore, the killer possessed abnormal strength. O'Connor's death was no accident; it was premeditated.
Solving puzzles and unearthing clues is one part of Murdered: Soul Suspect, while the other sees you evading malevolent red demons who'll scream you out of existence, tearing you apart with an ear-piercing banshee-like shriek. O'Connor can freely walk through walls and other scenery however, meaning he has plenty of options when a demon comes along. Get behind a demon, and you can turn him to ashes with a surprise attack. O'Connor can also teleport short distances, giving him further options when navigating enclosed areas like this small Salem townhouse that played host to his murder.
Analysing the upstairs loft where Ronan encountered his killer, further memory residues reveal the killer's movements, whereas spotting a scared girl watching from a hidden spot adds yet another piece to the puzzle that the police couldn't have possibly known. This is where O'Connor's role as an onlooking ghost comes into play. He can't directly manipulate objects, but he has other means at his disposal to uncover what happened.
Once enough clues and components to the crime have been assembled, O'Connor can make another deduction and then complete a crime chronology, in turn creating a psychic imprint of what happened. This plays out as a cut-scene that O'Connor can view through The Dusk, giving him a lead to pursue as he witnesses the girl exiting through the rear window of the house. Perhaps following her will give O'Connor more insight into the whereabouts of his killer?
Murdered: Soul Suspect has a lot of intriguing ideas at work, and looks like it could provide a welcome break from the surfeit of action games currently on the market. Possessing what seems to be an almost point and click adventure-style pace, with a few third-person action gameplay mechanics thrown in to spice things up, Murdered: Soul Suspect could have all the elements in place for a ghostly treat on current-gen consoles in 2014. We'll keep an eye on this one.