At first, it was a bit hard to believe that the same developer behind some of the more unorthodox and cartoony games out there would go for a gritty action adventure title focused on mystery and murder. Then again, this is Airtight Games and it is known to put some very intriguing twists on its gameplay while thinking outside the box at all times. Murdered: Soul Suspect may seem like a generic whodunnit but the real mystery in the game is solving your own murder. You play as Ronan O’Connor and after death, still exist as a ghost. This leads to some nifty powers but there’s plenty of conflict in dealing with crazy demons out to consume your soul. Long story short, Murdered is anything but typical.
GamingBolt spoke to Airtight Games’ Chief Creative Officer Matt Brunner, Art Director Dennis Price and Senior Design Producer Eric Studer about the game, including its creative direction, performance on the PS4 and Xbox One, and how truly awesome it is to be a ghost.
Ravi Sinha: Given the premise of past Airtight releases like Quantum Conundrum and Soul Fjord, what was the motivation for choosing a serious theme for Murdered: Soul Suspect?
Matt Brunner: The primary team at Airtight Games has always been focused on long format, serious narrative games. Before Murdered: SS we worked on Dark Void and many of the leads at the studio have a long history of working on adult themed games. Quantum Conundrum and Soul Fjord are extensions of the range of talent and aesthetics we have at Airtight.
"Murdered: Soul Suspect is an unabashed linear story where the player is challenged to examine the clues you uncover and figure out the mystery of your own murder."
Ravi Sinha: We know Murdered: Soul Suspect has you using poltergeist-like abilities to solve the murder of Ronan O’Connor. You can possess individuals and over-hear conversations along with browsing important documents. What other instances are there of Ronan’s ghostly abilities that we’re yet to see?
Matt Brunner: The possession mechanic will have some interesting twists as the game goes along and one very interesting mechanic is the ability to see memory residues of past events that are important to Ronan O’Connor’s mission to move on from The Dusk.
Ravi Sinha: Murdered: Soul Suspect reminds us of more cinematic adventure titles like Beyond: Two Souls and the usual David Cage collection of games. Was there a reason for taking a more dialogue and scenery heavy route with Soul Suspect? How does such an approach to the game affect its linearity? Will there be multiple routes for players to take and different endings to experience?
Matt Brunner: Yosuke-San, the creative director from Square Enix, wanted an immersive story that engaged the player with Ronan O’Connor’s personal dilemma as much as possible. He felt that dialog and cinematic moments were the right tools for empathizing with our protagonist and his predicament. Murdered: Soul Suspect is an unabashed linear story where the player is challenged to examine the clues you uncover and figure out the mystery of your own murder.
Ravi Sinha: Murdered: Soul Suspect was initially to release for current-gen platforms but will now be arriving for Xbox One and PS4. When did you decide to go cross-generational in development? How was development on next-gen consoles, especially with the added power that both consoles bring? Did it allow you to achieve certain visual upgrades that weren’t possible on current-gen platforms?
Dennis Price: The decision to go next gen required a few parties to come to an agreement to move forward with that decision. Of which occurred right after the consoles announced their presence to the public. There were a few features that we were able to “unlock” since we knew we had the horsepower and footprint (read: user base) to do it. We had always planned to release on the PC, but because our user base was going to be mostly current-gen consoles, we couldn’t afford to put our resources into “unlocking” those features for just the PC. Those features were things like subsurface scattering for skin, extremely high-resolution lightmaps, better and higher quality antialiasing solutions, higher resolution character models.
"We do have a lot of side missions for you discover throughout Salem, so I encourage seeking them out and having fun with them. There are some pretty crazy stories to discover!"
Ravi Sinha: There is a lot of debate on resolution/fps these days. Will you be able to confirm that both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions will run at native 1080p and 60fps per second?
Eric Studer: I can in fact confirm that Murdered will run 1080p on both Xbox One and PS4; we have decided to lock the frames at 30 for this product.
Ravi Sinha: Did you face any development challenges due to the Xbox One’s eSRAM? If yes how did you overcome them? Will there be any Kinect integration or DualShock 4 touchpad support for Murdered on next gen?
Eric Studer: I’m not an overly technical guy, but I don’t recall hearing about any hurdles on the eSRAM. Though we aren’t doing Kinect integration, we are utilizing the PS4 controller in a few fun ways that you’ll have to discover.
Ravi Sinha: How long will the game be and will there be any additional side missions to go along with the main campaign?
Eric Studer: We do have a lot of side missions for you discover throughout Salem, so I encourage seeking them out and having fun with them. There are some pretty crazy stories to discover! In addition to optional cases, we’ve filled the world with collectibles. Whenever you’re making a game like this, you have to build a strong lore and strong characters, and the best way to do that is by giving them a lot of back story. Unfortunately, not all of the story we create for the characters and the places make it into the game, and rather than leave that content on the cutting room floor, we’ve integrated it into the game through a wide variety of collectibles that players can hunt for. I am so busy finishing up the game I haven’t had a lot of time to play it from beginning to end, but with the robust mystery, side case, and impressive collection of collectibles, I think people will be lost in the world of Murdered for hours.
"I wouldn't consider Murdered: Soul Suspect to be a port. We had always planned on releasing our game on the PC market, and the next gen consoles have very similar specs."
Ravi Sinha: Murdered: Soul Suspect on PS4 and Xbox One is a port of last gen versions. But if the game would have been a proper next gen title, what kind of possibilities would that have opened up for the title?
Dennis Price: I wouldn’t consider Murdered: Soul Suspect to be a port. We had always planned on releasing our game on the PC market, and the next gen consoles have very similar specs. If we had originally planned on developing for those consoles, we might have focused on taking advantage of the features that they bring to the table. For instance, the touchpad on the controller for the PS4 we might have leveraged that in ways we simply didn’t have time for otherwise.
Ravi Sinha: Both consoles feature 8GB of RAM, which is multiple times more than last generation. Do you think developers and artists will start running out of memory once again as games get complex?
Dennis Price: I’ve been doing computer graphics for production (mostly pre-rendered) for over 15 years. I’ve watched the available hardware ceiling get higher and higher. There are so many technologies (known and unknown) that aren’t being utilized due to hardware limitations. Once that ceiling rises, those technologies will fill that void instantly. Short answer, yes definitely.
Ravi Sinha: Is there anything else you want to tell our readers about Murdered: Soul Suspect?
Eric Studer: The team here at Airtight has worked their asses off to bring Shiokawa-san’s vision for this story to life. Our hope is that players will enjoy the world we’ve created and find the mystery of Ronan’s murder very compelling. It’s been an intense run, and we can’t wait to get the game in players’ hands!