E3 2013, much like past years, was a barrage of sequels, remakes, and spiritual successors, with very little room for original IPs let alone original concepts. While it wasn’t totally unique, Square Enix‘s Murdered: Soul Suspect stood out as something pretty original.

In Murdered: Soul Suspect, players – as protagonist Ronan O’Connor – are tasked with solving the most important murder of all: their own. But how can O’Connor solve his own murder if he is dead? Allow me to explain.

Soul Suspect is set in Salem, a town with a long lineage of witchcraft and other supernatural occurrences. Supernatural mischief is already afoot before O’Connor gets involved and things only get stranger when he does. To put it simply: once Ronan bites the bullet, he becomes a ghost detective.

Murdered Soul Suspect Preview - Ronan OConnor

What makes Murdered: Soul Suspect so unique is the non-traditional gameplay it offers. Dark Void and Quantum Conundrum developer Airtight Games has crafted a title that is part L.A. Noire, part Heavy Rain, with a little stealth action thrown in for good measure.

The demo opened on O’Connor’s crime scene, with several cops and witnesses strewn about. In his ghostly form, O’Connor is tasked with putting together all the relevant clues, albeit without actually touching any physical objects.

Instead, O’Connor must use the ghostly tools that are at his disposal. He can possess people, but not in the traditional sense; when in control of an individual, Ronan can only see or hear what they see or hear, but he cannot physically control them. He can, however, influence their thoughts, basically picking their brain for any relevant information.

Murdered Soul Suspect Preview - Gameplay

After mining the crime scene for clues, Ronan then returns to his corpse to “put it all together.” In almost like a visual quiz, the player must decipher which of a number of floating phrases or words are relevant to the case. For example, the question might be “How did I die?” and the player would then have to structure a sentence that best answers that question.

Making deductions is certainly a unique idea, and one that helps the game standout amongst a ton of action-y experiences, but it’s unclear, at this point at least, how involved or deep that idea will go. What was shown was very basic and straightforward with little question as to the appropriate choices.

After making his first deduction, Ronan then moves into a house environment, where he attempts to discover more details about his killer. During this section we learn that the mysterious killer possesses some sort of supernatural strength, and that O’Connor was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. In other words, this particular sequence hinted that solving Ronan’s murder is part of a larger mystery involving the spirit world.

This sequence also highlighted the game’s other mechanics, namely a portion of the game where Ronan will have to sneak past menacing demon-like ghosts. Since Ronan can pass through walls (not full buildings) he can avoid the enemies pretty easily, and he can also pop into nearby humans in order to avoid detection. My guess is that this particular gameplay mechanic was added to give Murdered a little more “gameyness,” but it was the least interesting element of the demo.

Murdered Soul Suspect E3 2013 Preview

The demo concluded with Ronan deducing even more about his killer, who was able to bend a metal bat with his bare hands. It was unclear where the plot might go from there, besides finding more clues, but there was enough story teases peppered throughout the demo to have me intrigued.

And overall the game was a great surprise, one of those E3 gems that flies under the radar, but looks like it has promise. That being said, plenty of games fly under the radar for good reason. Murdered: Soul Suspect has some interesting things going for it, but whether or not our brief tease will sustain a full game remains to be seen.

Does Murdered: Soul Suspect sound like a game worth checking out? What has you most intrigued about the game?

Murdered: Soul Suspect is targeting an early 2014 release on the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.

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