One of the entirely new IPs brought to the Electronic Entertainment Expo by Square Enix, Murdered: Soul Suspect tasks players with solving one of the most difficult of all crimes: their own murder. After being killed under strange circumstances, Ronan O’Connor finds himself as a ghost in the land of the living. We were shown a section from the beginning of the game, involving the first investigative portion as well as the introduction of combat.
The demo began with Ronan’s murder in the middle of a street at night. Feeling completely disoriented from his death, Ronan finds himself near his own body watching his murderer walk away from the scene of the crime. As police officers arrive on the scene and begin searching for clues, Ronan decides to help the investigation.
Being an incorporeal ghost renders Ronan unable to directly interact with most objects or people. The objects that are solid to ghosts are known as “vestiges” and can be manipulated to progress through levels. This means that Ronan must use his wits and what vestiges or people he can influence to collect evidence and unravel the mystery surrounding his death. It also means that few walls have any meaning. Frequently, Ronan will be able to walk through walls, objects, and people to find new hints to take note of and observe. I was surprised to learn that Soul Suspect has one of the most logical explanations of why players can’t enter any building they choose that I’ve seen in a video game. The game is set in Salem, Massachusetts a place that has been historically superstitious and has had many of its buildings consecrated. Ghosts like Ronan cannot enter a consecrated space unless invited, as with an open door, which was demonstrated in the demo. Once within the structure, he can freely move through the walls and furniture.
Another of Ronan’s ghostly abilities is mentally influencing or outright possessing people’s bodies. In one instance, there was one witness to Ronan’s murder (it was in the middle of the street after all) and the woman was so distraught she couldn’t answer the police officer’s questions coherently. Ronan was able to enter her mind and had the option of focusing her thoughts onto a variety of topics. After choosing thoughts of the killer, the witness became able to clearly describe what she saw of the murderer to the officer and indirectly to Ronan.
As Ronan continues to collect clues, he begins to have flashbacks to the events leading up to his death and realizes he was shoved from a window before being killed in the street. Moving toward the house from which he fell, Ronan sees one of the officers leave a door open, which allows him to enter the home. At that point, the demonstrator pointed out that later on in the game Ronan would be able to make electrical equipment malfunction, distracting people into revealing clues or allowing Ronan to proceed. On his way to the top floor of the house, Ronan encounters a young ghost, who is unable to move on because she can’t find her body. This was one of the game’s many side-quests in which Ronan can solve side mysteries to help other deceased move on into the after-life.
It was at this point that we were also introduced to the combat. In the world of Soul Suspect, there are ghosts who pass on and there are the ghosts that cling to the world of the living. The ones that remain eventually begin feeding on other ghosts, obsessed with the idea that if they consume enough souls they will become human again. These ghosts become demons and are incredibly deadly to Ronan if taken head-on, but that is where players need to get creative. The best way to destroy a demon is by possessing them unexpectedly. Demons can’t find a ghost who has possessed someone, so possessing a bystander and then jumping into a demon was one of the solutions presented to us in the demo. The other method we were shown involved Ronan’s teleport ability, which functions as a dash that can be used to surprise and destroy the insane spirit. We only saw one type of demon in the demo, but there should be several other types in the final game.
As Ronan progresses through the house, he encounters various runes and psychic imprints on objects that all gave clues. After reaching the window he was thrown from, the game entered deduction mode in which the player must correctly order clues and events in the proper order by using logic and reasoning skills. Piecing together his memories of the event and the clues present at the scene of the crime, Ronan realizes that there was a second witness to the murder hiding in the room with him at the time, and that she has disappeared. With no further clues as to the identity of his killer, Ronan begins his search for the witness, the only one who could help him bring his murderer to justice.
Murdered: Soul Suspect will be coming to PS3, Xbox 360, and PC in early 2014.