Die Hard with a Spiritual Vengeance - Murdered: Soul Suspect Hands-On Preview
Post by nachosjustice @ 04:23pm 07/05/14 | Comments
Nathan "Nachos" Lawrence delivers an embodied hands-on with a disembodied detective tale in Murdered: Souls Suspect. Read on for his full thoughts...
What if John McClane died halfway through his impossible fight in Nakatomi Plaza in his efforts to save his estranged wife from the clutches of Hans Gruber? This is the driving ‘what if?’ fantasy that inspired the inception of Murdered: Soul Suspect. While it seems that Bruce Willis’ take on the iconic John McClane died (hard) of a case of franchise fatigue in more recent years, the Airtight Games-forged Square Enix-championed Murdered: Soul Suspect is a refreshing new IP that’s poised to intrigue with its detective noir story.
Aside from taking a keen interest in the variety of trailers that have been released for Murdered, this was the first chance I had to take the game for a spin. Considering Airtight Games portfolio, which includes Dark Void and Quantum Conundrum, I had my expectations set at an average level, despite the fascinating premise. I walked away impressed and eager for more.
The demo involved the first hour of the game, and wasted no time in throwing players into the thick of things; which also happened to involve protagonist Detective Ronan O’Connor being thrown out a multistorey window and onto the not-so-soft pavement below. After a bizarre control tutorial involving an out-of-body experience, O’Connor’s murderer finishes the job with a volley of shots to the broken detective’s chest.
At this point, O’Connor transitions from his corporeal-looking form and busts out a ghostly visage that will assumedly be his playable persona for the rest of the game. O’Connor tries to ‘follow the light’ into the afterlife, but is ultimately sent back to crack the riddle of the one unresolved thing in his life. This wasn’t explicitly identified, but the fact that his murderer -- who also happens to be a local serial killer -- is walking free probably has something to do with it.
When the cops arrive on the scene, some interesting narrative beats are established with dead O’Connor’s surviving relationships: one jerk cop desecrates the crime scene, while O’Connor’s estranged brother-in-law laments the passing of his late-sister’s husband. Thankfully, the cutscenes don’t waste too much time dwelling on backstory, as the ultimate task at hand in this situation is to supernaturally work the scene.
At this point, Murdered becomes reminiscent of L.A. Noire, except instead of running around the environment like a madman listening for obvious audio cues to isolate clues, there are some clever mechanics at play and even a taste of intriguing detective work. The living characters can’t see you, but you can still interact with them.
Possess a character to listen to their thoughts, or scan through crime-scene clues in the notepad they’re holding. There’s a running tally of the number of available clues in a particular area, and it’s best to collect them all before you take a stab at cracking the scene by way of a multiple-choice scenario. These early instances of the detective mechanics were fairly rudimentary, but managed to stretch beyond feeling as though they were heavy-handed. Unlike my experience with L.A. Noire, they also didn’t involve random logical leaps when determining the solution for a specific investigation.
To keep things challenging, there’s a three-shield review system in place that ranks your detective prowess. While you can jump the gun and force a crime-scene solution before collecting all of the associated evidence, you do run the risk of incorrectly linking items and destroying your chances at a three-shield rating.
On top of the two core crime-scenes that involved investigating O’Connor’s murder, there were also side quests on offer to help establish closure to the other otherworldly inhabitants of Salem. Not everyone’s friendly, though, as demons stalk the corridors and seek to munch on your ethereal ectoplasm. The demons can only be destroyed by sneaking up on them and performing the relevant quick-time-event (QTE) control commands to dispatch them for good.
Sneaking up on them is made easier by a handy ‘hacks’ vision that lets you spot them through walls, which rewards careful navigation tactics and deters players from running through walls without first looking. Not every wall is a ghostly doorway, though, with specific blessed walls acting as a barrier to keep O’Connor within a certain area. This felt clever rather than restrictive, as wall-hopping tends to become disorientating rather quickly. If you’re spotted by a demon or fail to QTE them to death, you have to run and hide. Hiding in lingering souls is the best way to avoid detection, but it’s best to hop between them as demons have a tendency to search through said souls in the hope of finding you.
After cracking the second crime scene, it was the end of the demo, and I found myself intrigued to find out what else Murdered: Soul Suspect has on offer. Assuming the gameplay mechanics expand later in the game and the crime-scenes take on a more layered and complex approach, Murdered could well prove to be a deep-sleeper hit when it materialises on shelves in June.
Recent articles by Nathan:
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