I’ve mentioned many times before that new IPs in a generation ruled by the sequel are a pretty big risk for most publishers and developers. It is especially true if the IP is in a genre that both developer and publisher are not familiar with. This is why more times than not you’ll see Western devs and publishers take these risks than their Japanese counterparts. It's also why Japanese publishers will contract Western devs to develop new IPs for them. That's what we have with Square Enix and developer Airtight Games with their new IP, Murdered: Soul Suspect.
If the name Airtight Games might not sound familiar, maybe their works will ring a bell. They were responsible for developing Dark Void for Capcom and developed the Kim Swift led Quantum Conundrum for Square Enix. Airtight will developing Soul Suspect while Square Enix Japan will oversee production.
As for the game itself, Soul Suspect is a supernatural detective game. Imagine a mix between the puzzle solving Ghost Trick and the investigations of L.A. Noire and you’ll have a general idea of the game. At their booth at E3, Square Enix and Airtight showed off the first live gameplay demo for Soul Suspect and gave some more details about the setting and what makes the game different.
Murdered: Soul Suspect takes place in the town of Salem, Massachusetts. As most Americans and those interested in the occult, Salem is most famous for their witch hunts and is a hotbed for supernatural activity. Players assume the role of Ronan O’Conner, a former convict and now a hard as nails detective for MPD.
As we have seen in the trailer that was released during E3, O’Conner was following a suspect. When he confronts the suspect, he is beaten, thrown out a two-story window and murdered with his own gun. Now as a ghost, it is up to him to piece together clues about his murder and bring the killer to justice so that his soul may rest in peace. After setting the scene, we are then shown the first live gameplay for Murdered: Soul Suspect.
Its hours after O’Conner’s murder and backup has arrived to investigate the crime scene. O’ Conner quickly figures out that he is in the Dusk, a realm between the living and the dead where ghosts that have unfinished business in the world living reside until they settle their business. As a ghost, O’Conner is limited to what he can do, however he is able to do things in his ghostly form that he could never do in a human body, such as possess people in a limited capacity. The reason for possessing people is to gather information when investigating crime scenes. When in a possessed body, he can see through the eyes of the host, alter memories, read minds and control their thoughts. He uses these new skill in conjunction with his detective to come to a deduction that his murder was after someone else before O’Conner showed up. To try to find out more, O’Conner then goes back into the building that he fell out of to gather more clues.
There is one problem. Since this is Salem and the people are either highly religious, superstitious or both, all of the building have been consecrated and blessed to keep spirits out, or in some cases keep them in. The only way into the building is to find a breach somewhere in the building or wait for someone to open the door for him, which happens and he makes his way in. O’Conner comes to the realization that he isn’t the only spirit that is trapped in the Dusk. There are other ghosts just like him who are trapped, but can’t cross over because their bodies have gone missing. These ghosts serve as side quest that players can do to level up O’Conner.
He’s going to need it as wayward ghosts are not the only things in the Dusk. Ghosts that have been tainted with evil and have not come to terms with their death become demons. These demons eat other ghosts because they believe that if they do eat enough souls that they might turn back into humans. Now you would think that as a ghost, O’Conner would have some awesome power or some type of weapon to combat these demons. Well he doesn’t. He has to avoid the demons at all costs and in order to defeat them, he has to use the powers that have been given to him, teleport and phasing, to sneak behind the demons, possess them and kill them from the inside out.
After avoiding demons, O’Conner makes his way back to the scene of the crime and new investigation powers are granted. These powers allow him to relive what happened and watch the events unfold from a different perspective. It is here when he discovers that there is a young girl that witnessed the murder happen and quite possibly be the person his murderer was looking for. O’Conner makes his way back out and follows her trail outside and this is where the demo ends.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is one of the most unique games that I’ve seen in the entire show floor. Airtight Games really took into consideration of ghost powers and the rules that they follow. The detective sections could use a bit of tweaking to make things a bit harder, but then this was the first section of the game, so maybe it will get harder and more powers will be given as the game goes along farther.
As for the premise of the game, I think it’s brilliant. By not giving players anything to fight the demons other than the ghost powers, forces players to actually think about where they move and adds suspense when trying to run and hide when being chased by a demon. I have high expectations for Murdered: Soul Suspect and I hope they only tweak and not change much.