PARTY POOPER

Mur­der­ous Pur­suits strug­gles to find its tar­get.

PC GAMER (US) - - RE VI E W - By Philippa Warr

In my first game of Mur­der­ous Pur­suits I was perched on a chair in one of the demo ar­eas of the PC Gamer Week­ender. I pit­ted my wits against other at­ten­dees as we tried to as­sas­si­nate our as­signed tar­gets while avoid­ing be­ing taken out our­selves. If that par­tic­u­lar mur­der-loop sounds fa­mil­iar it’s be­cause Mur­der­ous Pur­suits is billed as the spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor to 2006’s cult clas­sic, The Ship, and shares some of the same de­vel­op­ers. In Mur­der­ous Pur­suits you are seek­ing the fa­vor of Mr. X, a man host­ing a mur­der party. He as­signs you a quarry, but doesn’t give you their iden­tity. In­stead you have a com­pass marker which tells you if you’re on the same floor, goes green if you’re fac­ing the right di­rec­tion, and widens as they get nearer.

This hot­ter/colder sys­tem gets you in the right vicin­ity. From there you need to watch out for tells in nearby char­ac­ters or match changes on the com­pass to the move­ment of the sus­pects. When you’ve pin­pointed the tar­get you click to kill.

You also have two ac­tive abil­i­ties picked from a se­lec­tion at the start of the match. There’s a stun to en­able a get­away, a dis­guise which changes your char­ac­ter’s ap­pear­ance, a re­veal op­tion which out­right ex­poses hunters, quar­ries, and neu­tral char­ac­ters nearby, and so on.

There’s po­ten­tial here for a light­hearted mur­der merry-go-round. But the player­base is sim­ply too small. SteamDB records an av­er­age con­cur­rent player count of 38 on the week I’m writ­ing, and an all-time high of 155.

Part of spot­ting your quarry in­volves pick­ing up on hu­man be­hav­ior in a sea of NPCs. Con­ceal­ing your own mur­der­ous in­ten­tions is eas­ier if you blend in with those same NPCs. My PCG Week­ender game was a bunch of hu­mans fig­ur­ing out sys­tems and ex­per­i­ment­ing with fake outs or daft speed­walk­ing chase se­quences. In ver­sion 1.0, with­out this hu­man silli­ness, my games have high­lighted the repet­i­tive, in­con­se­quen­tial and, in terms of the ac­tive abil­i­ties, un­bal­anced el­e­ments. It feels like a game in need of an early ac­cess pe­riod both for build­ing up a player­base and iron­ing out is­sues.

Death knell

I set up a pri­vate lobby and roped in the rest of PCG to see if it was more fun as a group on voice chat. There were some funny mo­ments (Joe killing Sam re­peat­edly in front of guards and be­ing ar­rested), but so much of it was tied to the fact I en­joy their com­pany what­ever we’re play­ing rather than be­ing spe­cific to this game. And Mur­der­ous Pur­suits is priced at $20. A full lobby would cost you and your friends nearly $200. It’s too steep a price tag for the hope of a bet­ter game.

The devel­oper, Blaz­ing Grif­fin, has men­tioned plans for ranked play, com­mu­nity events, and “fea­tures to make it even eas­ier to jump into games with your friends”. I hope those help, but right now it’s not an ex­pe­ri­ence I can rec­om­mend.

A full lobby would cost you and your friends nearly $200

Bal­ance the need for kill points against the risk of re­veal­ing your­self.

Hang out in groups to make de­tec­tion harder.

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