E3: Eyes-on: Murdered: Soul Suspect

It sounds like something you'd hear about beside the campfire while people are telling cheesy scary stories: in Soul Suspect, you're a ghost who has to solve your own murder.

NameMurdered: Soul Suspect
Summary:We love its combination of L.A. Noire grit and horror movie spookiness. It's definitely interesting, but we couldn't tell whether or not it was actually fun to play - we're looking forward to finding out.
Games Info:Developer: Airtight Games; Publisher: Square Enix
Classification:Not yet rated
Platform:PC,PS3,Xbox 360
Test Platform:Unknown

It sounds like something you'd hear about beside the campfire while people are telling cheesy scary stories: in Soul Suspect, you're a ghost who has to solve your own murder.

At the beginning of the game, off-the-rails detective Ronan O'Connor comes across a man in a hood who's bending over the body of a dead man. The hood stands up, takes out a gun, and pops the dead man in the chest several times. As he does, light shoots out of fresh bullet-holes in Ronan's torso, and he realises that the dead body in the street is his.

The game is based in Salem, Massachusetts, the famous location of the Salem Witch Trials. The place has a long history of supernatural dealings, and when you first start to wander around, as Ronan, you can see that long history reflected in the environment around you. Things appear to be there that aren't - they're called vestiges and they shimmer blue. You're not the only ghost who's been through trauma in Salem, and these vestiges are leftover memories from others who've suffered.

As you begin to walk around, you need to start piecing together what's happened to you. The way you do this is very similar to the investigation system in L.A. Noire - you check your body for clues, and you need to find out what a witness saw. Unfortunately, you can't touch anything or talk to anyone. You can only observe. And there's an extra problem - you can't really hear what the living are saying, either.

Fortunately, you can possess people to see through their eyes, hear what they can hear, and influence them. In the demonstration, the player used this to look at a policeman's notebook, and to get a witness to better remember what she saw.

While you can walk through most things - cars, people, trees - you can't cross a threshold into a house. In the game, the buildings have been consecrated to keep out demons and spirits. Instead, you have to wait until someone opens the door, and then you can walk on in.

Once you're inside, you can walk straight through walls. This means you can roam freely between rooms, rather than having to follow set pathways. Don't ask why you don't just fall through the floor, if you can go through walls - the whole ‘incorporeal ghost’ thing has never made much sense.

While you can wander in and out of rooms easily, we don't recommend you do without checking your surroundings first. The world is still dangerous when you're dead, as there are demons around who seem to want to eat whatever's left of you. Those demons, Airtight Games explained, were once regular ghosts like you who didn't get to finish their unfinished business and move on. Clearly solving your murder is important - you don't want to become one of them.

You can kill demons, but it doesn't look easy. You have to possess them and tear them apart from the inside, which you can do either by sneaking up on them, or by possessing a human and leaping from there into the demon before it has a chance to react.

Murdered: Soul Suspect is very moody, and we loved its combination of L.A. Noire grit with horror movie spookiness. It was definitely interesting, but we couldn't tell whether or not it was actually fun to play. We're looking forward to finding out ASAP - it's out on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC in early 2014.

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Siobhan Keogh

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