I’m walking along a hallway on a ship. I’m dressed elegantly, in a long flowing Victorian gown. But despite this guise of civility, I’m actually a cold hearted killer. My prey is near. While I could rush over to them, I take my time. I know they’re in the vicinity and since the hunt has just started, I’m in no hurry. In fact, they may even come to me. Looking around, I see other well-dressed people milling about, some standing around conversing in a circle. I make a note of them and keep going. They should be able to hide me later. Sure enough, my hunch is correct. My quarry runs right up to me, and just as they realize their mistake, I strike.
But my job’s not over yet, as in Blazing Griffin’s new game, every time you commit a murder you’re assigned a new target. And there’s no time to catch your breath. Just as you have someone you’re hunting, there’s also someone hunting you. After I get my first target, a notification appears to let me know that my pursuer is near. While things could go south quickly, I have some tricks up my sleeve. Rounding a corner, I put on a disguise and suddenly change from a elegantly dressed lady to a hulking mustachioed fellow. I immediately join one of the aforementioned circles of people conversing and see someone rush around the corner behind me. My pursuer? Most likely. Either way I appear to have lost them. I leave the room and head into the main hall with the grand staircase. My disguise wears off. I’m exposed. Turn back into the small room I came from? Too late. My hunter has noticed me and rushes over. Before I can get away, I’m done in. But that’s not the end of the game, as I quickly spawn again to get another chance at this game of cat and mouse, or as it’s called here, Murderous Pursuits.
Playing a game in which I’m simultaneously hunting while being hunted, on a ship no less, I can’t help make the comparison to computer game The Ship. In the classic game, characters are forced by mysterious villain Mr. X to hunt each other until only one remains. But the similarity is no accident. Speaking with chief marketing officer Barry Waldo, he confirms that there’s a good reason for this. Many of the designers of Murderous Pursuits worked on The Ship. In fact, Blazing Griffin acquired its IP. So when the studio decided to make a new game, it gravitated towards what it already knew and knew well. While The Ship is still fun to play, it’s over 10 years old and somewhat dated. Since then, the only similar game that has come out has been the multiplayer component to several titles in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. But while these experiences are tacked on to a main campaign, Murderous Pursuits makes them the main event.
In the game, eight players battle for who can complete the most contracts (if fewer than eight, bots will supplement). Sounds simple, right? Well there’s more to it than that. First off, stealth is key. Do you think you can actually go around murdering people without consequence? While the police officers in the game are probably not the most hardworking in their field, they will penalize you if you take down a target in front of them. If you lower your exposure meter by doing such activities as mingling in social circles, you’ll get a bonus for when you do perform a kill. You’ll also get bonuses for using various weapons, which may be found in chests around the map.
You also have different skills that you can use to your advantage. At the beginning of each match you get the chance to pick two abilities from a list to use in that round. These vary from disguises that will conceal you from other players to flash bombs that will disorient your pursuers. If you have a hunch that the person sneaking up on you in your hunter, you have the option to stun them regardless.
One addition to the game is that of a more extensive story. Mr. X from The Ship returns, but I was told that he got a redesign (the team has been referring to this new version as “Sexy X”). This time the ship isn’t a standard ocean liner but rather a time-traveling airship from the Victorian era. This allows characters to come from a variety of time periods and locations. The characters are no less unsavory, as each of them is the “worst of the worst.” By the end of their journey, one of them will earn this title.
So when can we expect this game to release, and how much will it go for? Waldo confirmed that the launch almost happened last November, but the team decided to take extra time to polish it even further. Blazing Griffin will debut the game on steam for $19.99. The collector’s edition will sell for $29.99 and include extras, such as an artbook and skins. Murderous Pursuits will include four levels at launch. After debuting on April 28th of this year, the studio plans to release DLC and then follow that with possible console ports.