The teaser trailer of Murdered: Soul Suspect didn’t reveal much about the game, other than you were a ghost who has to solve his own murder. Square Enix’s expanded demo at E3 2013 revealed a lot more about the game and many of the core mechanics.
Taking place in Salem, Massachusetts, the game begins with your death. The opening scene is after police arrive and start investigating for clues. As a ghost, existing in-between worlds, you are not able to interact directly with physical objects. Core gameplay is about investigating a scene and deducting solutions from clues to recreate what happened at that particular crime scene.
You are able to possess characters to see through their eyes or get information from their thoughts that only those characters have. In the demo, you examined your own corpse to recreate the events that lead up to being thrown out the 4th floor window of an apartment building. You can possess a police officer to read his notes. Murdered: Soul Suspect makes finding clues easy with prompts.
Once you finish the investigation and complete your deduction, you have one more piece of the puzzle to sovling your own death. The mechanic to make deductions is more like a point-and-click game where you move random words or scenes around to find the correct answer, and in the demo, there were only two or three different parts to a deduction to solve it. It looks like later on in the game, the puzzles might become a lot more complex and require more thought to piece together everything.
This is the core gameplay of Murdered: Soul Suspect and allows for about 8 to 10 hours of gameplay. There are also optional side quests where you help other souls in the world solve problems and the one in the demo Square Enix showed required you to help another soul find their lost body. It’s a linear game, but if you like puzzle games then Murdered: Soul Suspect is an interesting new one to try.
As a ghost, you are able to freely walk through walls inside any building to explore and find clues. A smart gameplay mechanic that Square Enix included is the ability to enter any building in Salem because houses are blessed and you can’t enter unless a door is opened in the physical world. It’s strange to walk through walls freely without any constraints because many games define your path from one event to another.
Once inside, you are able to interact with things, like a stove, to distract and guide living people to help you solve puzzles. The demo didn’t show how far you can go when trying to solve these puzzles. Murdered: Soul Suspect also has combat, though the demo only showed a small sample. Along with other souls, there are demons who roam around and eat the souls of others. There are different ways to defeat them, but the one showed was sneaking behind them to possess them. Once you enter their body, you rip them apart from the inside out.
Murdered: Soul Suspect runs on a modified Unreal Engine 3 and the game looks impressive. With a 2014 planned release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. The character design is modern and the environments are very detailed with a lot of lighting effects. The effect of walking through walls is muted, but the main character is very distinct because he seems to slip through objects in the physical world. It was weird to see him standing in the middle of a kitchen with half his body in a counter top.
There is a lot of work with lighting in the game to create the atmospheric setting of Murdered: Soul Suspect and the small video Square Enix showed beyond the in-game demo previewed a church and more demons.
The game is a new IP for Square Enix and has been in development since 2009. The work that has gone into the engine and the gameplay mechanics are very different from recent games. Murdered: Soul Suspect has a different theme and tone, and mixing puzzle and action together should prove really interesting. There’s not much known beyond the demo Square Enix showed of the game, but from this first demo. this first demo. It’s going to be a game to keep an eye on, especially since it’s on current generation hardware.