Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
RPS Feature The painful phantom
Murdered: Soul Suspect was about a ghost detective trying to solve his own murder, but there’s not a whole lot of mystery steaming off developer Airtight’s color-drained corpse. Recent games like Quantum Conundrum – while by no means bad – weren’t huge hits, there were layoffs, QC lead (and former Portal designer) Kim Swift took off, and Murdered never really built up much buzz. Times were tough all around, and it looks like Airtight wasn’t quite able to keep its head above water.
RPS Feature Paging Dr. Venkman
Murdered: Soul Suspect is the tale of a silly man solving his own stupid murder. It’s an insubstantial game that won’t haunt your hard drive or your memory for long, but before I hammer the nails into its coffin, I’m going to talk about the good times and the merriment we enjoyed together. Despite the flimsiness of its mechanics and structure, Airtight’s dead detective drama has a certain hokey charm and I’m glad I spent a few hours in its company, but it’d be best enjoyed with a Mysterious Science Theatre commentary and an audience willing to riff on its weirdly earnest ghost stories. That’s the good times done with. Here’s wot I think.
In the past, I’ve approached Murdered: Soul Suspect with an eyebrow raised and a spot of mockery on the tip of my tongue. Playing as DC’s Deadman disguised as a grumpy detective, the player is responsible for solving the greatest mystery of all – their own murder! Potentially intriguing, yes? But then, as the latest trailer demonstrates, somebody kept adding new ingredients to the pot until the broth had become gelatinous. There are demons to fight, powers of teleportation, clues to the town’s past, ghosts to sidequest with, other victims to protect and all sorts of other supernatural silliness. Basically, if a ghost can do it, the game will include it. You’ll join forces with a medium – “you can see me?” – and posssess a cat.
I am fully prepared to love this preposterous plaything.
In Murdered: Soul Suspect, the man who killed you is primed to strike again. Catching him will be hard, partly because you’re a flimsy fedora ghost but mostly because this murderer leaves “no clues and no leads”. That’s according to the news reports in the trailer below, although they do mention immediately afterwards that a ‘crude drawing of a bell’ is left at the scene of the murders. That seems like it might be a clue, or maybe even a lead. Whether any information can be gleaned from the drawings or not, their existence has led to the perp being lumbered with ‘The Bell Killer’ as his murder-name. I was hoping that phantom protagonist Ronan O’Connor would make a grave reference to the fact that he met his bell end at the hands of the bell killer but, alas, it is not to be.
I have a piece of advice for the narrator of this Murdered: Soul Suspect trailer: follow-up with any questions you might have after your mother starts monologuing in vague terms about potential danger. She’s talking about unseen things and and saying stuff like: “There’s something out there,” without elaborating. Why not sit down with her and ask for specifics? What sort of family is this? My mum used stare sadly out of the window and tell me there was a slate that needed to be wiped clean or we’d all suffer from poverty and sickness, and when I pressed her she’d tell me to do the dishes or I wouldn’t get my pocket money. It pays to ask questions, and in that case I got £5 to spend on sweets.
Being a Scotch person, I suffer a daily indignity of idiots asking me to say words that that have the letter ‘r’ in them. ‘Murder’ is a particular favourite. I honestly don’t know what’s so funny about hearing the word ‘murder’ coming from someone with a Glaswegian accent. When you hear it up there, it means you’re either watching Taggart, you’re about to take a broken bottle to a vital organ, or you’ve met my dad. You don’t want to do any of those, frankly. I was reminded of this as I watching the Murrrrderrrredrrr: Soul Suspect trailer, a game about the ghost of a detective solving his own murrrderrrrerrererrrering.
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Just as it took me over a decade to get pun in “Diagon Alley” (Don’t judge me: I got it after walking through it on the Harry Potter Tour. Hmm, I sense further judging after that revelation…), I only just noticed that Murdered: Soul Suspect was a pun. They slipped it in like a clove in tasty rice. In this case, the “soul” part refers to the fact that the detective investigating a murder is a ghost and is looking into his own death, but also to the idea that he’s hunting down a single suspect. Anyway, I have no sympathy for the profane main character. He has a silly hat and he is a smoker.
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This whole industry is bonkers. Launch trailers are released days ahead of launches, there are trailers for trailers to announce release dates, and pre-order packages for games that are barely off the whiteboard. So perhaps I’m becoming inured to it all when I barely bat a beautiful eyelid at an “announcement trailer” for Square’s Murdered: Soul Suspect, for which there was a teaser trailer in February.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Square’s just-announced tease for a game called Murdered: Soul Suspect, is that they managed to secure murdered.com for it. I say that because we know literally nothing else about the game at this point, beyond a gloopy CGI teaser, and the news that it’s coming to PC, 360 and PS3 in early 2014. Oh, and the notion that you’re solving your own murder. I wasn’t even feeling ill.