Murderous Pursuits Review
Remember back in the day when Assassin’s Creed had a multiplayer mode? It’d be understandable if you don’t, considering the mode was only around for a few entries and Assassin’s Creed has always been known for its single-player focus, but I felt they were onto something special. Cut to 2018 and a new game called Murderous Pursuits has revived the cat-and-mouse stealth action that made the aforementioned Assassin’s Creed mode so compelling and placed it in a silly and fun, albeit sparse, online multiplayer murder party.
There’s something I want to make clear right away: though Murderous Pursuits has garnered a lot of comparisons to Assassin’s Creed and The Ship already, it is not a direct copy of either of them. Rather, Murderous Pursuits feels more like a spiritual successor to the abandoned ideas of those games, and I’m glad there are still people who want to make a game like this.
The setting for Murderous Pursuits is simple but sets the whacky tone nicely. Essentially, there are a group of renegade individuals aboard a flying, time traveling vessel hovering over a Jurassic landscape, and they are tasked with tracking down and hunting other members on the airship for a mysterious man named “Mr. X”. It’s a pretty ridiculous setup, but it works. The airship and the characters themselves have a Victorian feel to them, and the Dishonored-like art style creates a very appealing visual aesthetic. Murderous Pursuits nails that balance between cartoonish and realistic perfectly.
Being multiplayer only, how Murderous Pursuits plays is crucial. Thankfully, each match is a slow burning game of cat-and-mouse and (almost) everything behaves how it should. It works like this: up to eight players are let loose in a section of the airship, where Mr. X will assign you a quarry to hunt. You must stay hidden and find the quarry using a gauge at the top of your screen that tells you their approximate direction and floor. Once you feel confident in their identity, you must wait for the right moment to strike and take them down. How you go about doing so will award you points, or “favor”, accordingly. For instance, if you simply sprint at your target and kill them out in the open you will be awarded a small amount of favor, but If you attack from one of the “vignette” zones after perfectly timing when your quarry will pass by you, the amount of favor you receive will be much greater. Determining when you should take your time and when you should be more aggressive is part of the strategy, and you’ll need to act carefully if you want to come out on top. It’s a great gameplay loop and can lead to some seriously satisfying moments. This all works pretty seamlessly, although I did find an issue with accidentally targeting NPCs walking in front of me right as I was about to kill my quarry, leading me to lose that kill entirely.
In addition to the basic structure, there are also abilities and weapons that add another twist to the formula. Before each match, you must choose a loadout of two abilities that provide various advantages such as disguising yourself as a different character, countering an oncoming attacker, or even dancing over one of your victims to gain some extra favor. I like the concept of having these abilities, but there simply aren’t many of them, and a few feel much more powerful than others.
Unlike abilities, you do not get to choose your weapon. Instead, weapons are used as another tool to test the skill of players. Each weapon has favor value attached to it, and after you kill a quarry with it, that value drops to one. You can continue to use it, but if you want to get as much favor as possible per kill, you will need to seek out a new weapon after each kill. This prevents players from getting lucky with quarry locations and racking up a ton of points in a short span of time, and I’m all for it.
Just the Beginning
One area where Murderous Pursuits is lacking is in the amount of content it offers out of the gate. There are only four maps and really only two modes to choose from: a quick match with players online and a private match with bots or friends. The beauty of games these days is that new content and modes can always be added, but without anything like a ranked mode, or other quirky modes with alternate rulesets on the immediate horizon, I’m a bit worried for the game’s longevity. On top of that, in my time with the game after its official launch, most of the matches I was placed in were ongoing, filled with some bots instead of real people, or both. Playing with a few bots isn’t a huge issue but joining a match that’s already underway felt like entering a race where my opponents were already halfway to the finish line.
Murderous Pursuits carries the torch that games like The Ship and Assassin’s Creed lit some years ago while still carving out its own identity. From its amusing setting to its solid gameplay mechanics, Murderous Pursuits has a lot going for it. When you boil it down, it’s a fun game to play, especially with a few friends to share in the antics. However, There are some shortcomings, most notably when it comes to the base content, but if the developers continue to support it and add new, exciting things to play around with, I could see it building a committed and well-deserved fan-base in the future.
*** A PC code was provided by the publisher ***
- Quirky, fun setting
- Art style works well
- Rewarding gameplay
- Sparse on content
- Matchmaking could use some tweaks
- Targeting can be wonky