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Murdered: Soul Suspect Preview

blake_peterson By:
GENRE Action 
PUBLISHER Square Enix 
DEVELOPER Airtight Games 
M Contains Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol

What do these ratings mean?

A cop who keeps investigating after he's been put into the ground? That's dedication to the job.

Ronan O'Connor has a serious problem: He's dead. That sounds drastic, but at least he's proactive.

Working to solve his murder isn't easy, as Ronan no longer has the advantages of the living. He can't pick anything up or speak to anyone not deceased. He gets certain advantages in return, though. He can pass through walls and other physical objects. He can also possess the living to hear their thoughts, influence them to remember things, and peek through their eyes.

Luckily, this is Salem, Massachusetts, an area steeped in paranormal history and lore. Areas with past psychic traumas may have the remainders of old environments long since torn down, appearing in an ethereal blue amidst other environments. It also means that the town buildings have been consecrated, so Ronan can only enter buildings when other characters do, though he can go anywhere inside once he gets there.

Murdered: Soul Suspect is a rarity in today's game market, a triple-A adventure title for the current-gen market with graphics to match. It's a slick-looking game with strong environments and characters that compliment the spooky atmosphere. Still, it's through and through an adventure game, with the focus on the story and puzzling out the clues that can get Ronan closer to his killer, whose strength itself to be supernatural in some way.

When presented with clues, the player must use Ronan's skill as a detective to make a deduction by putting clues together (and sometimes in order) to figure out and then re-experience a series of events. These clues can take the form of observations about physical places or crime scenes, the thoughts or words of others, or "memory residues" that are like snapshots of people left behind after an event.

Not that there are no dangers for Ronan. Demons, who were once ghosts, travel the world of the dead, looking to devour the souls of other ghosts. The first demon encountered is genuinely scary, in a way that is reminiscent of true survival horror. We were showed how the first set of demons (with the promise of a variety with different strengths and weaknesses) could be executed in a puff of sparks and ash by being possessed from behind.

He can do this in a number of ways. He can try to sneak around behind them without being detected. However, he has a few more tricks, he can possess humans, whom the demons can't see, or teleport short distances to appear behind them, then possess them.

Shortly after continuing his investigation postmortem, Ronan encounters the ghost of a young girl, who scrawls all over the walls in a strange coded script and then disappears when Ronan comes close. We were told that moving through the game would allow Ronan to begin deciphering the mystery script, yielding more information related to his case and the environment.

Fleshing out the story and world of Salem are side-quests Ronan can accept to help other ghosts. In one section, walking through the walls of a apartment complex, Ronan encounters another ghost whose body has gone missing and must find clues by possessing people nearby. Encountering the thoughts of others quickly painted a picture of the woman's murder and where the killers had hidden her body.

Ronan's deductions in these situations, and his own, are in the form of a list with correct and incorrect options, or a series of images that must be put in order. These are often connected to one of several objective pieces of text that hangs in the middle of the room (e.g. "What was the killer looking for?") with the clues nearby to be teased out. This is a similar mechanic to the Sherlock Holmes adventure games' deduction board, though it looked a little more intuitive.

At the end of the demo presentation, the game's website pulled up on-screen, the ominous The game is set to release on PS3 and Xbox 360 early in 2014.
More GR previews for this game:
Murdered: Soul Suspect preview posted on 06/13/13.
Murdered: Soul Suspect preview posted on 03/03/14.

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