Murdered: Soul Suspect has been flying under the radar just a little bit over the last few months but that is starting to change. Taking advantage of what the Xbox One and PS4 can do for next generation games, it appears this title is starting to get some notice in the gaming world. Today, Examiner sat down for an exclusive interview with several members of the team who worked on the mystery.
In Murdered: Soul Suspect, you play as Ronan O’Connor, a detective who has been killed by an unknown assailant. Gamers must work through a creepy storyline set in Salem, Massachusetts in order to gather clues and figure out who your attacker is and why you were his target.
We started off talking to Eric Studer, the Senior Design Producer for Airtight Games and asked how he feels people who have played this game have reacted to having to think and reason to find the solution. We wanted to know if people have enjoyed that aspect of the game or whether they resisted.
Studer: Everyone who has had the opportunity to play the game has come in to it knowing that they were going to play a narrative driven murder mystery with supernatural overtones. So in that way, they’ve always enjoyed the mystery of it; figuring out how each of the investigations factor into the overall story. It’s been a lot of fun to watch people play the game, trying to get inside the head of Ronan and really put themselves in his shoes. It’s gratifying to know that they want to be a part of the world we’ve built, and it’s a good sign that people will really like what we’ve put together for them.
Next we talked to Matt Brunner, the Chief Creative Officer for Airtight and asked him about the types of side activities we are going to see in Murdered: Soul Suspect. We also asked whether those things will help improve a player’s ability to solve the mystery as they progress through the game.
Brunner: There are several kinds of side activities in Murdered: Soul Suspect: collectables that give the player backstory and information about the main characters as well as the town and its history, collectables that result in a ghost story that weaves a tale about a specific event that occurred on the site you are exploring, living NPCs that you can mind read, ghosts that engage you in mini-investigations to help them "move on", and ghosts that you can engage in short dialog with.
While Murdered: Soul Suspect is being released on the current gen Xbox 360 and PS3, the group was most excited about what the Xbox One and PS4 are bringing to the table as a tool for the game. We asked Dennis Price, the lead writer at Airtight what the biggest differences between the current and next generation versions of the game are?
Price: The next gen hardware really elevates the ceiling on how we can push the visuals. We are able to provide a quality much like a high end PC on the next gen consoles. Technology-wise we are able to crank the dial up to 11 on things like antialiasing and introduce DX11 features like subsurface scattering, which the previous gen consoles simply didn't have the capability of doing.
When we asked what sort of functionality we will see with the Xbox One’s Kinect and the PS4’s touch pad and camera, Eric Studer answered the game didn’t have a whole lot of integration with those features.
“For Murdered, we wanted to focus on the main experience of the game. Rather than try to retrofit new features of the Xbox One and PS4 into the game, we’ve chosen to maximize the technology to present the highest fidelity product as possible on those platforms.” Studer said. “In general, I feel like what Microsoft and Sony are doing with their platforms is opening up new potentials for play, and games that are built from the ground up to utilize the functionality of the different platforms and their respective controllers could potentially create unbelievably clever and immersive worlds.”
Speaking of immersive worlds, we also wanted to know what some of the benefits of working within a smaller world like Salem is compared to a larger open world. We also asked whether or not the team felt like a smaller world meant a more high quality world.
Brunner: There are many reasons we chose a smaller, more intimate world for the setting of Murdered. We discovered early on that a larger city worked against the "feeling" of ghostliness. As soon as our character entered a smaller, older part of the city it felt right. On top of that our story development began to veer toward a threat that integrated the history of Salem which by its nature was a more intimate, small town setting. This offered the added bonus of being able to ramp up many of the visual effects that give Murdered it's distinctive iconic look and feel: transparent character, ghostly fog, ghostly inhabitants hiding in all the cracks and recesses, and more detailed environments.
Despite being in a small town, we wanted to know how the development team had manage to flesh out the narrative. Are there going to be about twists and turns or more about straightforward discovery? Will side activities play a role in fleshing out the main story itself? Doug Van Horne, the lead writer for Soul Suspect had the answer.
While straightforward discovery plays a role in Ronan’s investigation, players must be active in uncovering and interpreting the clues they find to advance the story. Twists and turns are inherent to any good mystery and the winding narrative path in Murdered fits the setting, characters and conflict perfectly. A majority of the side cases, as they are called in the game, relate directly to a conflict or person important to the primary story. These were excellent tools to expand on the richness of our characters and fiction in ways the primary narrative would not allow. It helps breathe life in the world Ronan is cast into, gives the audience a deeper understanding of character motivations and may even provide a few useful hints we hope the players will find rewarding.
Finally, we got ahold of Naoto Sugiyama, the executive producer for Square Enix and asked him about the growing trend of adding multiplayer to new games. We wanted to know, will this game feature a multiplayer mode? If so or if not, why did the team decide to go that way?
Murdered is a single player only game. Our aspiration has always been presenting a great narrative experience around solving your own murder. It didn’t feel adding multi-player mode would help make the experience greater and we chose to focus on our core value proposition. Sugiyama answered.
Because of that, we wanted to know if he thought that with all of the new consoles receiving games that heavily focus on multiplayer, that then places pressure on all games to have a multiplayer component? We also wanted to know whether he thought consumers saw single player as a top priority in some games?
“I think everybody understands not every game benefits a lot from adding a multiplayer component. I believe many multiplayer fans would still want to take a break occasionally and enjoy being absorbed into single player experiences.”
Murdered: Soul Suspect will be hitting store shelves for the Xbox One, the PS4, the Xbox 360, the PS3 and the PC on June 3.