A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Murderous Pursuits is a downloadable online multiplayer game for Windows. Players hunt and attempt to murder one another while avoiding detection. There are occasional spurts of cartoonish blood as players skulk about before suddenly striking their assigned targets with bombs, guns, daggers, fists, and a variety of other improvised weapons. In certain stages, characters can swig drinks at a bar, but it's done as a ploy to blend in with others; they're never shown drunk. There's no sexual content or iffy language to be found within the game.
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What's it about?
In MURDEROUS PURSUITS, the mysterious Mr. X invites you and seven other contestants to board the flying, time-traveling ship HMCS Britannic and play a deadly game of cat and mouse. To survive, you'll have to act like an unassuming passenger to avoid revealing yourself while locating weapons, and then stalk and kill your targets. The player who racks up the most points (which are earned by killing the most players while also limiting your exposure) wins.
Is it any good?
While the idea of cleverly hunting and eliminating opponents is different from other multiplayer games, the bland play here quickly starts getting stale over multiple rounds. In Murderous Pursuits, your basic goal is to kill more players than your opponents, but how you do it matters just as much. Obviously, your first challenge is figuring out which of the other characters is your target. The game only indicates whether your intended target is on the same floor as you and where their general direction is on a compass. Picking them out is much harder than it might sound, because each stage is filled with countless doubles of each possible character you can play as -- many wandering about or busying themselves by appreciating art on the walls, talking to each other, or taking in the view. At any moment you can blend in with them, and so can your target, but your overall goal is to figure out who you're hunting and take them down without letting them know you're coming for them. After each successful target elimination, you're brought back and paired up against another player to do it all again.
In games like this, which live or die by how popular they are, it's expected that more wrinkles and changes will come. One of the game's biggest turn-offs is the inclusion of a bomb that blinds you momentarily. This can send all of your hunting and scheming down the tubes, which can feel unfair in a game that tries to be balanced for players. Beyond that, the largest issue is that, while it's fun, there's not a whole lot to the gameplay. Some stages (like the engine house) are set in close quarters and require even more careful movements, but it's still the same basic dynamic over and over. Fortunately, as far as multiplayer games go, Murderous Pursuits is economically priced, is not overly gory, and is a different kind of game with rewarding strategy, as long as you don't expect to play it for marathon sessions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Does Murderous Pursuits' limited approach to violence make it any less brutal since the purpose is killing other players? What might a version of this game with no violence at all look like? Who do you think that version might appeal to?
Would you ever let a stranger talk you into doing something wrong? Is that an OK basis for a video game?
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