Oooh, now this is intriguing - The Ship: Remasted devs Blazing Griffin are taking another stab at their 'murder party' formula. Today they announced Murderous Pursuits, a game about hunting (and being hunted by) other players. You have to sneak up on your quarry by pretending to be one of the AI characters milling around, just like in the old Assassin's Creed multiplayer modes but without all that silly jumping. It'll be out in March.
What's new this time round? Well for starters, you're on a flying boat that's packed with alternate reality Victorian time travellers.
Here's the premise:
"Set in an alternate reality Victorian era in which time travel is a way of life and the upper crust gallivant across the skies in elaborate ships, a mysterious benefactor known only as Mr. X has prepared a Machiavellian new cat-and-mouse game for the ages."
Just like in previous iterations of The Ship, you'll be assigned a target for you to hunt down and murder. Of course, someone else will be hunting you in turn - so you're always simultaneously trying to find and eliminate your prey while keeping an eye out for anyone acting suspiciously. While blending in as an AI was part of those games, it looks like it'll play a much bigger role in Murderous Pursuits. It's a bit like a fancy, 3D version of local multiplayer game Hidden in Plain Sight.
To help sell your disguise you can approach "vignettes", which are "special locations that allow nearby characters to participate in a variety of highbrow activities, like appreciating art and discussing foreign economics". I'd guess that those have been inspired by the similar system in Spy Party, another game about disguising yourself as an NPC. It's a natural fit, and could be exactly the sort of thing The Ship needs to take it from being quite good to excellent.
On the flip side, I am a little worried that they might have taken too many leaves from Assassin's Creed's murder book, in that the press release mentions "flash bombs and counters". Special abilities like those were the downfall of AC's multiplayer, so I can only hope that the abilities in this are less powerful.
Depending on how you measure it, you could consider this the fifth Ship game. Here's Alice with the history:
"It began life as a Half-Life 2 mod in 2004, graduating to a full commercial release with a single-player campaign in 2006. Developers Outerlight turned the Hollywood-set sequel into 2010’s Bloody Good Time, and then shut down. Blazing Griffin picked up rights to The Ship in 2011 and tried to crowdfund a sequel, but only drew £18,247 in pledges towards their £128,000 goal and so got nothing."
Due to the lack of funds, The Ship: Remasted ended up just being a remake.
I like the idea that every Shiplike game spans some form of multiverse where events always play out in a similar way. To (mis)quote Bioshock: "There's always a boat. There's always a bloke called X. There's always a suspicious lady with a frying pan creeping up behind you."
Murderous Pursuits will be out on Steam some time in March.