Reviews: The Ship Murder Party

Very unique concept, while it lasted

The Ship is one of the most creative games I've ever seen. It was part "life on a cruise ship" simulation and part hunt-and-kill. You're given the goal to kill a specific other player, while a specific different player is told to kill you. If you kill the wrong person - someone who is neither your target nor your killer - that counts against you. At the same time, if you stalk your target in an obvious way, they'll quickly know what's going on and kill you first.

If the game only contained that element and nothing else, it probably wouldn't work. So instead, there's a lot more depth. The existence of needs - entertainment, wakefulness, the bathroom, and so on - forces you to go about the ship and actually act like a normal human being much of the time. In other words, you read books, listen to a concert, sleep in bed, use the bathroom, and so on. It feels like carrying out life on a cruise ship while, at the same time, you're slowly stalking your target and trying to stay alive.

That makes The Ship one of the few video games to truly recreate a specific experience. Basically, picture a suspense novel or a thriller about someone on a cruise ship who is being stalked by an unknown assassin, and also has a target to take out. It would pretty much play out just like this game. You'd see the protagonist exploring the ship, passing the time, partaking in the cruise ship's entertainment, and so on, all while keeping an eye out for the target or killer, and making sure to carry out the kill away from security cameras and guards. In other words, exactly what you'd be doing in the game.

My favorite mode was the elimination mode, as once you'd been killed, you'd respawn as a new person but be out of the match, giving you plenty of time to roam around the ship and explore and just check the place out without worrying about killing or being killed, allowing you to explore the "sim" mode a bit more. There was also another gameplay mode in which dead players respawned quickly and were given a new target, which kept the action up.

Sadly, the game died. It was an online-only game, and unpopularity meant that within about 2 months, actual human players were largely gone and replaced only with bots, totally killing the game's social element. It's a shame. I really admire this game's creativity.