Murderous Pursuits Review - Stealth in Style

Murderous Pursuits is stylistically interesting and a nice a break from more common multiplayer games like fighters or shooters, but with a small player base and limited character and map options, the original concept gets old fast.

Murderous Pursuits is a spiritual sequel to Blazing Griffin’s 2006 title, The Ship: Murder Party. The game takes place on the H.M.C.S. Britanic, a time traveling, Victorian airship controlled by Mr. X. It is the night of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebration, but the party is hijacked by the cruel Mr. X. To prove yourself to Mr. X amongst his other conspirators, you must hunt and kill your fellow contenders until there is one winner.

The story of Murderous Pursuits doesn’t go much further than that, but it doesn’t need to. Ultimately the gameplay is designed for multiplayer enjoyment as opposed to narrative design. The story establishes a colorful setting and a reason for the gathering of such diverse characters, but not much else.

There are eight character models to choose from and each map is populated by multiple clones of each player model to help players blend in and hide from their pursuers. At the beginning of each map Hunters are assigned a Quarry. The goal is to hunt and kill your Quarry to maximize and earn “Favour” points while evading your own Hunters. Favour points vary depending on the weapon used to perform a kill and the amount of exposure a player currently has. A maximum of two Hunters may be assigned to top performing players, meaning you may not be the only one hunting your Quarry.

Players do not know which character model they’re hunting, instead players use a Quarry tracker to locate their Quarry. The Quarry tracker helps players identify the floor and direction of their Quarry, but it’s up to the player to find the right character to kill by looking for discrepancies amongst the NPCs. Players also have a Hunter Indicator. The Indicator helps identify hunters, informs the player how many are currently hunting them, and whether or not they are nearby. When the indicator lights up players can use abilities to confront their Hunter, stunning them and forcing them to go after another player.

Before loading into a map, players have the option to choose two out of five abilities to help them in their hunt. Players can choose Counter which allows them to counter a Quarry or Hunter that tries to attack them; Disguise, which allows them to disguise themselves as another character and remove all exposure; Reveal which allows players to reveal Quarries and Hunters that are nearby; Humiliate, which allows players to humiliate the corpse of their Quarry, earning additional Favour; and Flash, which allows them to blind and stun everyone nearby. Unfortunately, these abilities are unbalanced. Counter and Reveal are used more often because they are more useful than Humiliate or Disguise.

While abilities like Disguise seem useful at first, players can limit their exposure in other ways. Exposure increases over time when players are outside areas known as “Vignettes” or doing non-NPC actions like running. Too much exposure gives players’ locations to their Quarry or Hunter. Players can decrease their exposure through abilities like Disguise, but ultimately, they can just wait in Vignettes for the same effect. The less exposed a player is when performing a kill, the more Favour points they earn.

Aside from earning Favour points for limited exposure, players can also earn an additional one to five points for using certain weapons. Each character starts out the round with a weapon, but players can acquire other weapons from boxes found within the environments. While players can boost points through these two methods, if they are not careful they can be detected by Guards while attacking or humiliating. Once caught, players lose any points gained during the actions leading to their arrest.

The game is straightforward in terms of mechanics, but it does take a little practice. Rather than give a tutorial that shows players actions as they practice alongside AI’s, there’s a large info dump at the beginning of the game that instructs players on how to play. Players then have the chance to practice with AI before moving into multiplayer. Unfortunately, the player base seems rather small and at no point was there ever a full eight people playing. With less players to interact with, the kill or be killed nature of the game got repetitive rather quickly.

On top of that, the limited character and map selection only add to the repetitive nature of the game. While there is a progression system, it’s hardly rewarding. By earning XP and Favour points, players unlock other skins, but they're mostly just palette swaps of the character’s default costume. Beyond watching your profile level rise, there’s not much to XP-based progression, which raises the question of why it’s there at all.

Strategizing against opponents is fun when there are enough players to make things engaging, but with little variety, reward, and such a small player base, the excitements in Murderous Pursuitsare short-term.

Score

Good Bad
Art Style Progression System
Character Design Repetitive Gameplay
Music Little Map and Character Variety
Strategy Based Player Mechanics Low Player Base

- 6/10 -