Murderous Pursuits struggles to find its target.
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.
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.