What is it: Kill or be killed PvP hunting game
Expect to pay: £18/$20
Developer: Blazing Griffin
Publisher: Blazing Griffin
Reviewed on: Windows 10, 16GB RAM, Intel Core i7-5820k, GeForce GTX 970
Multiplayer: Up to 8
Link: Official site
In my first game of Murderous Pursuits I was perched on a chair at the PC Gamer Weekender, pitting my wits against other attendees as we tried to assassinate targets while avoiding being taken out ourselves. If that 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 favour of Mr X, a man hosting a murderparty. He assigns you a quarry but doesn’t tell you their identity. Instead you have a quarry-compass on the screen which tells you whether you’re on the same floor, goes green if you’re facing the right direction, and widens or narrows as they get nearer or further.
This hotter/colder system gets you in the right vicinity. From that point you need to watch out for human tells in nearby characters or match changes on the quarry-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 reveals hunters, quarries and neutral characters nearby and so on.
There’s potential 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.
I’m yet to play a game with a full count of human players. I think five non-AI players out of eight is the highest I’ve seen, but at points it has just been me and seven AIs.
Part of spotting your quarry involves picking up on human behaviour 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 speed-walking chase sequences. In version 1.0, absent 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 player base and ironing out some issues.
I set up a private lobby and roped in the rest of PCG UK 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 these people’s company whatever we’re playing rather than being specific to this game. But Murderous Pursuits is priced at £17.99/$20. A full lobby would cost you and your friends nearly £150/$160. It’s too steep a pricetag 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.