I’m standing above the corpse of the (former) prince of India. People are gathering around me, and I’m pretty sure I can hear the guards approaching in the next room.
My mind is racing. What should I do? Should I throw away the bloody dagger in my hands? Should I run? Should I don a disguise and try to disappear into the crowd?
I don’t do any of that. Instead, I decide to perform a little dance on top of my victim and move on to my next target.
Murderous Pursuits is a somewhat goofy multiplayer stealth game. You don’t run around, shooting and shouting obscenities. Instead, you move slowly around the map, observe the many characters around you, and strike when no one is looking.
If you ever played The Ship, first released in 2006 and then remastered in 2016, the premise of Murderous Pursuits should sound very familiar. Maybe it’s because the same developers who handled The Ship’s remastered version are also making this one, but mainly because it’s almost the exact same game.
Your goal is simple: find your target and eliminate it. Also – try not to get murderized yourself. Or arrested. Or exposed as the filthy criminal you so clearly are.
At first, this all sounds fairly straightforward – kill target, avoid hunter. However, it’s a bit more nuanced than running up to someone and shooting them in the face.
Murderous Pursuits is mostly a game of cat and mouse – a very slow one. You blend in with the AI, move slowly so not to draw attention to yourself, and try and catch up to your target. Every action you do that isn’t typical of an AI character (which is pretty much everything except standing still) raises your Exposure level. Reach full exposure, and your location is highlighted on the screens of both your target and your hunter.
To maintain low exposure, you use vignettes – areas where you can hide in plain sight by admiring art, dancing with the AI or debating 19th-century politics. You walk from vignette to the next, following the compass at the top of the screen that indicates the how close you are to your target.
Low exposure also grants you bonus points when you finally commit the heinous act of murder. Constantly switching between different weapons and using your abilities cleverly also helps rake in the points.
All the weapons in the game work exactly the same, but players are encouraged to switch them up between kills. The tools of the trade are scattered through the map in shiny sparkling boxes, and the AI never approach them. Never. You can pick up a weapon without a penalty to your exposure, but other players will immediately know you’re human.
Luckily, equipped weapons don’t appear on the character model, so walking around with one isn’t a dead giveaway.
In the various Murderous Pursuits beta versions I’ve played, there were only a handful of abilities to choose from. You can use Reveal to see if any of the characters around you are either your target or hunter, Disguise temporarily changes your in-game model, and Counter protects you from death for a few seconds.
My favorite, though, is Humiliate. With it, you can dance over the body of your target, earning a few more points if you manage to pull it off. The catch is that you become full exposes while doing so, making you a very easy target.
Overall, Murderous Pursuits can be fun, but not very original. As I mentioned, we already had The Ship and that Assassin’s Creed multiplayer mode. It doesn’t introduce any new mechanic to the “murder party” formula; at least not in any version of the game I’ve played so far.
On top of that, there’s not enough variety to the game. Maps only look different, and none of them have a “hook” or a unique feature to differentiate it from the rest. Each match plays roughly the same way, no matter the character you choose, the weapon you’re using, or the map you’re in. The abilities do spice things up a bit, but chances are you’ll find the two that work best for you and stick with them.
I would like to see the game’s interesting settings having more weight in the final version. You are traveling aboard the Britannia, a fancy steampunk airship. But the Britannia isn’t your ordinary everyday steampunk airship – it’s a time-traveling one.
Unfortunately, this backstory doesn’t seem to play any part in the game. Maybe that’s how everybody keeps coming back to life after they’ve been assassinated; I don’t rightly know.
All I do know is that while I had fun with the beta at first, I was pretty much over it by the 5th match. I’m hoping the beta is just a small taste of what Murderous Pursuits will offer players when it is released for PC on April 26.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.