The Ship Review
By Chad Montague |
Turn Clue into a first-person shooter on 1920's era luxury liners, sprinkle in bits of The Sims, and you've got Outerlight Ltd.'s The Ship. One of the more recent releases on Valve's Steam download service, the game twists around the Clue formula to make it a little more interesting. Instead of having to uncover a killer, The Ship makes you the killer. The main gameplay mechanic revolves around finding your target, called your quarry, and breaking their face as stealthily as possible. To do so there are plenty of lethal odds-and-ends to wield, and even some environmental traps. It's certainly a quirky take on first-person gaming, but it's an entertaining one once you get the hang of it.
To add flavor, everyone else on each map has a quarry as well. While pursuing your own target, you'll need to stay alert and attempt to spot the passenger readying a knife for your back. The six maps included in the download don't allow the player to run around brandishing a weapon. While strolling around in haughty speakeasy-era garb searching for your quarry, you'll need to avoid security. Guards stand around on each map, and somehow the brilliant ship engineers even managed to fit electronic security cameras in there as well. Should you get caught with a knife or poison syringe in your hand, you're slapped with a fine and a penalty period in jail.
Might want to mix in some water, buddy.Though getting jailed empties your inventory and briefly removes you from the action, the fine is more of the problem. The Ship is an entirely multiplayer game, which can be played online against others or offline against bots. Successfully stabbing or bludgeoning your quarry without getting caught drops a big chunk of change into your wallet. Since winning a round requires you to have to highest cash purse, it's in your best interest to avoid getting arrested.
There are plenty of lethal tools on each map, including a blunderbuss, walking stick, poison syringe, truncheon, candlestick, umbrella, croquet mallet, knitting needle, letter knife, wrench, fire axe, pool cue, wallet bombs, and on and on. They're scattered all over the place, though you'll learn they're locations quickly enough with enough play time. Some weapons, like the poison syringe and wallet bomb, have unique effects. Getting poisoned means you'll need to head to the ship medical center for treatment. Reaching for a wallet on the ground, which drops from killed opponents, may be more lethal than you expected. Other than a few specific examples, most of the weapons are pretty basic firearms or melee weapons.
A better determinant of which weapon to pick up is the Money For Kill (MFK) list. Some guy named Mr. X, who apparently organized this whole insane mixture of high society and murder, prefers different weapons every round. By checking the list, players know which weapons yield more dollars when a successful quarry kill is pulled off. Once some money is built up, players can withdraw it from a ship bank or ATM (again, those ship engineers are amazing) to buy food, drinks, bribe security guards so they won't arrest you, and pay for a psychoanalysis session.
Hammer time...sorry that was terrible.Why buy food and drinks? To quell your Sims-like needs. As you run around, your character gets tired. As a match goes on, your character needs to use the bathroom in both senses, especially if you've been eating and drinking a lot to satisfy your hunger needs. Around each map you may find catheter and colostomy bags to take care of things on the run, but generally you'll need to find a bathroom, restaurant, coin operated vending machine (the engineers continue to impress), or bed. If you don't take care of a pressing need, bad things happen. If you don't sleep, your character eventually loses the ability to sprint. At it's maxed out point you pass out on the spot. If you avoid imbibing liquids, your character turns into pile of dust.
The character need elements make for a deeper gameplay experience, as your character is vulnerable to attack while you're downing a bag of chips or snoring on a bed. We wish there was some way to cut short the actions. If you're sleeping, for example, we couldn't find a way to break out of it until the sleep meter was wholly depleted. So if you wanted to take a quick nap and only partially satisfy your sleep needs, you're out of luck.