The Ship is one of those games that doesn’t quite live up to its potential, but is still fun to play. It is a new take on an old genre, and people will probably either love it or hate it. It definitely isn’t for everyone, since you have to be of a particular sort of people to enjoy the pacing. Fortunately, it isn’t terribly expensive, so the fact that it isn’t perfect yet doesn’t hurt too badly.
The premise brings to mind old mystery novels or shows: You have been invited on a cruise by Mr. X, but you soon find that you are involved in a twisted game. You are given a quarry to kill, and scattered around the ship are various weapons to help you on your merry way. Of course, there is also someone hunting you, so you’d best keep an eye out at all times. Naturally, pulling a weapon out in the middle of the dining hall is frowned upon, and the ship’s security is only too happy to put you in jail for a spell.
The game takes place largely in a first-person view, as you roam the ship in search of your quarry (and with one eye open for people following you). Along the way, you will also need to fulfill your needs. These include the need for food, drink and conversation, among other things. This is one of the more innovative parts of the game. Of course, to take advantage of the food and drink facilities, you need to have cash. Cash is amassed by killing your quarry using the different weapons on the ship. Mr. X will grant different reward monies depending on your choice of weapon (after all, he gets tired of seeing the same thing over and over again).
The premise of the game is really fresh and intriguing, but unfortunately it still seems a bit shallow at times. For example, in online play I found that strategy was somewhat lacking. I wanted to lure my prey into a corner and kill them quietly, but the game didn’t really reward the stalk-and-kill method. After someone kills their quarry, everyone has 90 seconds to kill their quarry before the game grants everyone new quarries. If you get killed, you get a new identity and quarry.
Certain modes of play are more fun than others. Elimination and hunt are probably the most strategic and deliberate, and in my opinion the most fun. There is a learning curve, particularly since the layouts of the ships are so complex. Fortunately there is a solo offline mode wherein you can practice navigating the corridors of the ship.
The graphics look pretty decent, but occasionally the colors are so dark and murky that it’s hard to make out the decorations. Mostly the ships are outfitted in very pretty old timey colors and designs, and the costumes that the characters wear are similarly retro. Even the music on the radios parodies old tunes. The audio is a mixed bag, as certain sound effects seem underrepresented. For example, footsteps are almost totally nonexistent, which makes little sense when you’re on the deck of a ship. It also makes it hard to hear your killer coming up behind you with a knife.
Overall, The Ship is a good game at a great price. It seems to be developing a decent-sized fan base, and I rarely have trouble finding a server. For 20 dollars, you really can’t go wrong, since this is one game that you can play for a few rounds or all night. I recommend The Ship to anyone who enjoys slower, more deliberately paced games of strategy and planning. I feel like this game can only get better with time.