Over the last few years we’ve seen plenty of good examples of whodunit games on consoles. There was Rockstar’s LA Noire, set in nineteen forties America, and Heavy Rain, with its psychologically chilling hunt for the Origami killer, but now Square Enix has brought us something a little different, because this time the murder you have to solve is yours.
Meet Detective Ronan O’Connor, a detective in the town of Salem, Massachusetts – a place well known for its spooky history. The game begins with Ronan being slain by a brutal and seemingly unstoppable killer. You’d perhaps expect that his story would end there, but it seems the good detective is having a little trouble resting in peace, and now he has one more murder to solve: His.
So, what can we expect from Murdered: Soul Suspect? From what we saw in last year’s E3 demo, this will not be a game like many others out there, and if you’re expecting a straight up shooter then think again. As a ghost, Ronan can only interact with the physical world in a very limited capacity, but in the dusk, the eerie limbo-like world in which Ronan now finds himself, there’s an impressive arsenal of spooky skills you can master in order to find the killer’s identity.
We’ve seen him possess and influence the minds of victims, walk through walls, and even reconstruct events from emotional echoes in his environment. But don’t expect it to be that easy. The dusk is far from being a safe haven and is haunted by far worse things than a few seemingly benign spooks and one recently deceased and bullet riddled detective.
That said, this IS a detective story, and you’re going to have to do a fair bit of gumshoeing before you finish. Gathering evidence, and establishing the context for that evidence, will be key to finding your killer, so there will likely be some similarities to LA Noire.
Combat in the game is described as being ‘very intentional’, with the focus placed on forming and executing a strategy rather than simply barging in guns-a-blazing. This puts me in mind of the Golgoth guards we saw in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, hugely powerful enemies that you can’t attack head on, and must instead sneak up behind in order to take them out. While this approach to combat may not be for everyone, it does seem to be consistent with the overall premise of Murdered: Soul Suspect – making the player think carefully about the decisions they’re making and choosing their actions carefully.
If done poorly this could make Murdered: Soul Suspect a very repetitive and potentially frustrating game, and if the story is not wound tightly the player may find themselves getting bored of it very quickly. But, if Square Enix can keep the story flowing, keep us asking the right questions, and keep giving us dynamic, interesting characters that we want to see more of, this could prove to be one of the best games on Next Gen consoles we’ve seen so far.
Contributed by Theo Moulton
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