Anyone who demoed Murdered: Soul Suspect at the Square Enix booth at PAX East 2014 definitely got a real feel for the game, as it was one of the longest demos I’ve ever seen! It was literally the entire beginning of the game, where your character — hoodlum-turned-police detective Ronan O’Connor — is murdered, and his ghost cannot find peace until he tracks down his own killer. But not wanting to skip cutscenes for fear of missing important information, the demo ended up taking almost a half an hour, and there was still more to do when I kind of let myself die so that I wouldn’t feel like I was hogging the demo station!
I played the PlayStation 4 version of the game, though it will also release on PS3, PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. There shouldn’t be any real differences between the generations aside from slightly spiffier graphics on the next-gen systems. Airtight Games has done a quality job on Murdered: Soul Suspect. The game looks fantastic. It’s just dripping with atmosphere, and the ghostly effects are eerie and well-done. Voice acting is also top-notch (at least what I heard of it), and the writing (what I saw of it) seemed solid. The game is set in Salem, Massachusetts, but don’t expect to be able to find your way around if you’re familiar with the real town. This is a fictionalized version. It’s just a perfectly spooky setting for a ghost story.
As a ghost, you have some extra abilities to help with investigating your murder. You can pass through some walls, possess people, read minds, and the like. As you pick up clues, they’re added to your inventory, and you will ultimately have to put the pieces together. During one segment, I was gathering clues, and then tasked with determining which of them was the most crucial to what I was investigating currently. I didn’t get the right one until my second guess, but thankfully there aren’t any real penalties for making mistakes like that. You’ll lose points, but it won’t derail the story or anything.
There’s also a little bit of spectral combat as certain areas will be rife with demons, who will suck the ghostly life right out of you, ending your game. Luckily, you can hide from them in little ghost fog spots. And if you can sneak up on a demon from behind, you can destroy it. Thankfully, the demons aren’t going to be everywhere. Just enough places to keep you on your toes without making it frustrating to do any investigating at all.
I’m told to expect around 10 hours of core gameplay, with numerous sidequests to fill in the story and add content. You will encounter other ghosts in your travels, like the super-creepy Joy, a little girl who helps you get acclimated to the spectral dimension, and can sometimes help these ghostly NPCs move on into the light through various sidequests. You can also collect items during your travels and unlock the ghost story of that item’s past.
I would have loved to have been able to really enjoy the storytelling of Murdered: Soul Suspect without the distractions of the PAX East show floor. And I would have liked to play through to the end of the demo and take my time investigating and searching for clues. The game definitely grabbed my attention and left me wanting more of the story. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to wait for the game to be released in order to really enjoy it. It’s due out June 3 in the US and June 6 in Europe.