The Ship began as a mod for Half-Life, but as time went on, it soon became a stand-alone game using the Source engine. In it, you and a group of people have all been placed on a ship by an eccentric rich man known only by the name Mr. X. You're given a target, and it's your job to take them down by any means necessary.
Available via the Steam digital delivery system and developed by Outerlight, The Ship gives you an identity, a face, and sets you loose to take down your target on different ships of varying design and size. All the while, you must realize that someone has you in their sights, waiting to find you, hunting you. There's an element of paranoia and fear as you walk by the other people on the ship, wondering if they're actually tracking you, waiting for you to let you guard down. The next time you turn your back on someone, they might draw a weapon and strike.
To track your target, you'll have a little indicator in the bottom right corner of the window, showing what your target looks like (if you've yet to see them, only a black silhouette will be shown). Their last known location will also be shown, and it's up to you to get there as fast as you can, before they move to another place.
Taking down your target nets you a healthy sum of money, added to your bank account. How much exactly you earn depends on the weapon you use. Using something as powerful and easy to find as an axe won't get you a lot of money, however, taking down someone with a letter opener or a syringe full of poison will earn you significantly more. It means a lot more strategy and planning, rather than just hunting for the most powerful weapon and keeping it with you.
Dispatching your target also has to be done with a measure of discreteness. Scattered around the ships are collections of security cameras, passive witnesses, and guards. If any of them see you with a weapon drawn, you'll be fined and taken to the brig for an amount of time that depends on what and how many weapons you have. So taking out your opponent means waiting for the opportune moment to strike, out of sight. Sometimes the last thing you will hear is the sound of the door being closed behind you in a small room as someone descends on you with a blade.
New to this genre is that of needs. As you run around the ship, killing others, needs such as hunger and thirst, rest, hygiene, and so forth will rise in value. You need to attend to these in between gunning others down by using facilities scattered around the boat. However, whether you're taking a shower, using the washroom, eating at a restaurant, or having a nap, you're still being hunted. In a way it makes it a little annoying because you won't really be inclined to attend to your needs as opposed to stalking your target. On the other hand it's an interesting twist because it's not just about staying hidden and staying out of the way, it's also about meeting your needs.
The style of the game is a little minimalist, with an artistic flair straight from the turn of the century. For example, every now and then you'll pass by a radio playing some classic song from the period as it echoes through the corridors. Everything appears straight out of the time period, the characters, the boats, and the weapons. There's a sense of blandness, however, to the locations and the way the maps are designed. Things often seem flat and a little devoid of life, which, in a way, still supports the theme of the game, but gets dull when you've been staring at the same map for the past hour.
There's a single player mode to the game, but facing off against AI is nothing compared to facing against human opponents who are as filled with paranoia as you are. When it comes to the modes of play, there's the standard deathmatch, elimination (last one standing), another mode called duel, and the hunt, which is the main premise of the game. Deathmatch and elimination feel a little detached from what the game is all about, and feel out of place in a game based around stalking your prey while avoiding the watchful eye of the law.
There're a few problems with the hunt mode as well. For one, your success (which is based on how much money you have, not how many kills you've made) is determined almost entirely on whether or not you can make your way to the good weapons before someone else. If you're too late, you'll find yourself running around with an axe, able to kill anyone but unable to make any real money. Matches like these can quickly become disappointing, and emphasize the need to memorize levels.
All in all, The Ship is a very decent game to play. It brings a few new twists to a genre that is overpopulated with mediocrity. While it hits a few snags here and there, on the whole The Ship is an interesting and entertaining game worth checking out.