Seeing a developer take a step back from the trends of the industry, attempting something unique, is always exciting. Dynamic varieties between a game’s typical formula and its execution create lasting impressions within specific genres. Sometimes, as is the case of Murderous Pursuits, that execution is literal. Cutting through an age of excessive battle-royales and regurgitated FPS models in the PvP market, Pursuit provides players with a fresh multiplayer experience.
Solving for X
Upon starting their adventure, players are transformed into a guest on a time-traveling, Victorian-styled airship. Your goal? Compete against other live players in a variety of stealth-driven PvP scenarios. A sense of Agatha Christie murder-mystery surrounds you under the care of your host, the masked Mr. X. The competition for his favor as the worthiest assassin begins, aiming for alleged wealth and acclaim.
The signature means of winning in the title’s “Classic Hunt” mode is as follows: you and seven others, arming yourselves with weapons of devious, sometimes cartoonish design, walk about the airship’s various cabins among NPC copies of Pursuit’s main cast. After a set amount of time milling amidst your opponents and non-playable counterparts, your HUD lights up with alerts. Proximity to a target displays amidst the crowd, as well as your proximity to two other players pursuing you imminently. Beguiling other players with unlockable abilities, you sneak upon your quarries with varied stealth techniques.
More than Skin-Deep
Pursuits’ core gameplay is fairly straight-forward and lends itself to a fun albeit mediocre experience. Moreover, it stands out the most due in-part to its superb storytelling. While the in-game transactions may prevent you from fully experiencing the entire 16 character roster, everyone who downloads the app will be able to choose from two distinct personalities at the outset. Acquiring new characters are alternatively achievable by simply earning in-game currency via gameplay. What further motivates longer play, however, is the investigation of earned characters’ shared histories.
The team at Blazing Griffin (ported to mobile by NetEase) goes above and beyond, detailing fully fleshed-out backstories for each of the title’s Christie-esque characters. Upon leveling-up a newly earned character, you’ll unlock updates to an ongoing visual-novel that describes their troubled circumstances. Fans of rich characters like myself will enjoy discovering new wrinkles in the journeys their chosen cast members. This results in a satisfying, lengthy investment beyond the main game that relieves the pressure on players to accumulate more characters quickly. Associated double-edged micro-transactions provide only an otherwise permeable wall between players and further content.
The Killing Floor
There is certainly a lot to see and do in Murderous Pursuits, which is rather commendable alongside the fact that it’s free-to-play. The only real detraction is that the core “Hunt” gameplay becomes saddled with a number of technical inconsistencies. Sometimes your character is facing your desired target, but if there are other NPC’s nearby, touch controls make specific targeting difficult. Compounding this issue further are penalties received for striking incorrect targets. Other times, without clear enough HUD markers for visibility, it is sometimes difficult to discern if you are in the line of site of one of the airship’s guards, resulting in an otherwise avoidable penalty. While occasionally frustrating, these elements are thankfully not entirely game-breaking.
Murderous Pursuits provides a unique “stealth-em-up” playstyle and well-developed lore, standing out among its multiplayer cousins that primarily capitalize on the same old tropes. Even with its technical issues, this murder-mystery romp rewards those who stick with it and unearth the salacious details surrounding the pasts of your crewmates. This satisfying experience provides enjoyably replay-able core mechanics. Also, you chop people in the back with comically large axes, so that’s cool.
Is it Hardcore?
Is it Hardcore?
If you are willing to look beyond a number of technical issues, Murderous Pursuits provides a lore-rich, online action title with a unique setting that is as satisfying as it is engaging.