"What if John McClain died in Die Hard and became a ghost?" That little idea is what gave birth to the whole concept of Murdered: Soul Suspect. "He wouldn't just give up, he wouldn't stop," senior design producer Eric Studer told me. "He would continue fighting to bring the bad guys to justice."
You play as Ronan O'Connor, a recently deceased detective who's out to solve his own murder. That's right, you play as a ghost and will use ghostly powers along with your superior detective skills to solve your death and to figure out the mystery behind the one that killed you.
Murdered: Soul Suspect (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Developer: Airtight Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Murdered: Soul Suspect begins with the above little cinematic, featuring detective Ronan getting tossed out of a building, and then shot seven times. Those little glowing orange bullet holes are displayed on Ronan the whole time as you play by the way, adding a sense or morbidness to the experience.
With the cinematic over, Ronan finds himself in the middle of his own crime scene surrounded by fellow officers and witnesses. Sure, he can't directly interact with humans anymore, but doesn't mean he's going to stand idly by. You'll be looking for leads, and searching for clues using your new ghostly powers to do so.
You have a number of abilities to use, the first of which is possession. You can't control a person's body, but rather you'll be able to see and hear through them. In the first instance, Ronin looked through an officer's eyes to examine the notepad filled with clues. Next Ronin jumped into a cop to hear a conversation happen, as otherwise you can't hear people talking unless you've possessed them.
From here, the player made their way to a witness that was freaking out over what had taken place. An officer is trying to get her statement, but she's too shaken up to remember anything clearly. Ronin can go into her, make sense of her mind, and push her thoughts out clearly so she can give a proper statement.
As you're discovering clues, Ronin will make deductions and put together evidence to get a clear picture of what happened. Players will have to piece together sequences once enough clues have been obtained in chronological order, and correctly figuring out the sequence will give you a flashback of sorts of what happened leading up to whatever incident you're examining.
This ghostly plain of existence is called Dusk. You'll see ethereal objects all over the place, from old burnt down buildings that have long ago been torn down, to other ghosts wandering aimlessly. You'll see a lot more as a ghost, but you also have limits placed on you. Back in the old days of Salem (where the game takes place), a spell of sorts was cast to ward off evil spirits. So you can't freely enter a building unless a door or window is opened.
After you've gathered all the clues you can outside, a cop will open the door to the building you were thrown from and that's your chance to go inside. Once you're inside, there are no boundaries as you can freely pass through any wall. There will be active and passive ways the game will kind of point you in the right direction to proceed forward in the story, but otherwise you have total freedom to go through any wall and any room.
You'll witness people living out their lives, and even afterlives. There's a lot of optional sidequests you can take on, such as the case of a little girl in a boiler room. An old couple in the apartment complex murdered her, and she can't find peace until she can find where they hid her body. You'll have to possess this couple and piece together the clues to help this little girl move on in peace.
Just because you're a spirit doesn't mean you can't be hurt. There are a variety of demon-like creatures that haunt the environment, and they're hunting for any spirits they can to devour. You can't attack them head on, rather, you'll use your wits in order to get the upperhand on demons.
Players will have to find a way to possess demons from behind, and then burst out of them causing the demon to explode, much like how Neo from The Matrix "destroyed" Agent Smith at the end of the movie. One strategy that was shown off saw Ronin camping out inside of a human body moving about their room, and waiting for the right moment to jump out and attack a demon.
The last part of the demo saw Ronin make his way up to the room he got thrown out of. There are memory residues all over the room, and you're able to pull out the different memories in order to recreate the entire the past, and not just your own past either.
You quickly discover that the man that threw you out of the window, the same man Ronin was looking for in the first place when he was still alive, is actually pretty strong. You know there's something up when this guy isn't fazed at all after getting hit with a metal bat. A metal bat in which the killer then proceeds to bend in half like it's paper.
The residue memories also happen to reveal something vital that not even the cops will be able to discover: There was a witness in the apartment while the struggle with Ronin and the killer happened. The killer was after this girl, but she's able to make an escape during the fight. Who is this girl? Who and what is this killer? Ronin won't rest until he finds out these answers ... you know because he's dead and ghosts don't sleep.
There's a ton of potential here with Murdered. You have to use your wits both with the puzzles and the enemies to progress through the game. I love the idea of having to solve crimes and the like, and especially enjoy that combat isn't the answer here. Definitely keeping my eyes on this one.