The intense and suspenseful game-play of Murderous Pursuits, developed and published by Blazing Griffin, is perfectly balanced with its ridiculous and absurd moments. It’s an intense game of cat and mouse on board a giant, flying, time traveling ship, the Britannic. I would like to give you more details about The Britannic but the game never really gives you any details either. It’s mentioned once in a short opening cut-scene and then the game begins.
A typical game of Murderous Pursuits lasts ten minutes. Eight players choose from eight character types, with no advantages or hindrances to any of the character types. They are simply there in case you want to change up your look in between rounds. Players then select their skin and abilities.
It’s got a great sense of style. From the simple soundtrack to the broad character design, everything just fits snugly into place with everything else. Murderous Pursuits is set on a time-traveling sky ship and seems to be set in the Victorian era. Even the sassy narrator references Queen Victoria in one of his many quips. With a setting so bizarre, this game could have had characters and locations from all throughout history but that might have felt unfocused. Instead, they did one period in time and did it really well.
It’s Hunt or Be Hunted
Once the game starts, all of the players are given another player as an assassination target called a Quarry. The only way to track your Quarry is by the very appropriately named Quarry Tracker, a green and white meter that rests at the top of your screen. It will say things like, “Quarry Floor Above” or “Quarry Floor Below”, always hinting at the appropriate direction to go.
You may notice that you are also being hunted. In fact, if you are doing particularly well, you may have up to two players hunting you. Whenever a new Hunter is assigned you as a Quarry, a small skull icon will appear beneath your Quarry meter. There is also a dull metallic sound effect. The skull icon starts out gray but turns red when the Hunter gets near enough to strike.
At the end of a ten minute match, the player with the most Favour wins. Favour is essentially just what the game calls points. You earn Favour in a number of different ways but the most efficient way is by killing your Quarry. However, you cannot just run up and kill them. Murderous Pursuits is all about patience and meter management.
Another meter players need to keep an eye on is their Exposure Meter. If you are perfectly hidden in a crowd with nobody suspecting you like a good assassin, then you can kill your Quarry for five Favour. On the other hand, if you are sprinting around the map and attacking anyone who looks suspicious to you, not only will your kill be only worth one Favour; but you will also become Exposed.
Being Exposed means that all players that are currently hunting you can now see your location from anywhere on the map. It also means that the player you are hunting can see you anywhere on the map and knows that you are hunting them. In order to lower your Exposure meter you need to blend in.
In order to do that you need to find a Vignette.
Vignettes are areas of the map, outlined in white dotted lines, where NPCs gather and go through their routine animation. If a player character steps into a Vignette with some NPCs, the player character will automatically start mimicking the animation. For example, maybe a player is trying to get their Exposure meter down. They approach a Vignette in front of a bar and instantly start drinking alongside several NPCs doing the same animation. Their exposure meter goes down and anyone hunting them would have a very difficult time deciphering which character is the player character out of the group at the bar.
Another great way to earn Favour is by changing your weapon. Each player starts the match with a weapon that is worth one Favour per Quarry kill. But, throughout each of the four maps there are weapon chests with different weapons in each one. Each of these weapons is worth a Favour amount from one to five. After you get a kill with the weapon though, it reverts back to being worth one. NPCs will never approach the weapon chests so taking a weapon from one is a dead giveaway for who is a player character.
The easiest way to determine who is an NPC and who is a player character is by using some of the Abilities. For example, the ability Reveal allows one to see which characters in the immediate vicinity, if any, are the Quarry or are Hunters. More often then not though, I have found that I am just very paranoid and surrounded by NPCs. I am usually then killed by a Hunter within the following few seconds.
The next ability is Flash. Using this ability, throws a flash-bang grenade and blinds everyone in the area of effect. This is particularly useful when you feel a Hunter breathing down your neck but you just cannot seem to find them. Or if you have cornered your Quarry and you’re afraid they are going to run or worse, attack you. Yes, Hunters can be attacked by Quarrys. If the Quarry attacks the Hunter, the Hunter is stunned and loses that Quarry as a target. They then have to stand in their shame until the game finds them a new Quarry. It’s not a good feeling.
Humiliate is the third Ability. This one is pretty much just what it sounds like. Once you assassinate your Quarry, activate Humiliate and then watch as your character does a little dance on their corpse for a cool three extra Favour. Yes it will definitely leave you Exposed but isn’t that a small price to pay for some classy, Victorian era tea-bagging.
Next up, we have Counter. This is an ability that, like Reveal, is invisible to everyone except for the person using it. Counter allows you to attack your Quarry without fear of them countering you instead. If your Quarry tries to counter your attack, then the ability Counter comes into effect and you counter them instead. You can also use it if there is a Hunter after you. Instead of having to do it manually, Counter will allow you to stun the Hunter automatically.
The final ability is Disguise. Disguise allows a character to change their appearance into a different character’s appearance for a limited amount of time and immediately lose all Exposure. My favorite combination of Abilities is Disguise and Humiliate. When I get a kill, I Humiliate the body until my Exposure meter is full. Then I run around a corner and use Disguise and I’m back to being invisible.
There is a lot of fun to be had with Murderous Pursuits. I played online with a friend and we had a great time laughing at the absurdity of the situations. One moment someone is dancing on a corpse, then they get stabbed, then the stabber turns around a slaps a woman approaching from behind, then somebody threw a flash-bang and everything went white. That is not a rare occurrence in an average game of Murderous Pursuits.
My concern is that there is simply not enough to do. The narrator is funny and makes smart mouth comments at you when you die, but after about three games he will begin repeating the same comments. If you earn enough Favour you can unlock different Skins for the characters but that’s it. There is a leveling system and after getting to level four I still cannot tell you what the levels do. They seem to just be there to add some abstract feeling of progress.
The game is only twenty dollars on Steam and there is fun to be had here. I could say that, I’m sure in the future they will add more maps or characters but I’m not sure of that. It would be great if they do but it wouldn’t be fair to alter my opinion based on what may or may not happen in the future. I have to go by what is out there right now. And what is there right now is just not that much.
- THE GOOD
- Great art style
- Good sense of humor
- Classy, Victorian era tea-bagging
- THE BAD
- Repetitive narration
- Repetitive gameplay
- Unnecessary leveling system
Murderous Pursuits is a fun, wacky, multiplayer, stealth game. It can lead to a lot of tense stand offs and a lot of ridiculous moments too. Unfortunately, it’s charm wears off in a few hours when you realize there is simply not all that much to do.