A tl;dr Haiku:
Climb walls and punch faces.
Seven-story body slams.
This game is awesome.
Spies are awesome. Always cool and collected, they make the right move at the right time to save the day — all without anyone noticing. So it’s only fitting that in a game about being a spy, I had to use tactical cunning, devious planning, and shrewd trap-setting in order to succeed. That or, y’know, jump dudes while their backs are turned and punch them repeatedly in face.
Gunpoint, made by Suspicious Developments, is an indie strategy game for the PC. The player takes on the role of Richard Conway, a freelance spy. The game proceeds as a series of missions, starting with a briefing by the client telling me what needs to be done, followed by the mission, after which there is a debriefing. During the briefings, I am given dialogue options to choose from. The choices determine if I am seen as a consummate professional, a spook with a heart of gold, or, as I chose, a snarky twonk-nugget. The dialogue choices, aside from containing some very clever and humorous bits of writing, dictate how my clients view me as the story progresses. They also factor into a personalized afterword created upon the game’s completion. The story is much better written than I anticipated when I picked up the game. The writing is consistent and there are some good twists throughout the plot. I am even able to chose, on multiple occasions, which of my multiple clients I want to side with when their interests begin to clash.
Much of the gameplay is designed around manipulating security systems to facilitate progress through a level. This is mainly done through the cross link device. The cross link allows me to connect otherwise unrelated systems to one another. I can, for instance, cause a light switch to open an electronic door rather than turn on a light (or vice versa if I needed to limit the visibility of pesky guards who thought it was fun idea to shoot me). The other key ability is a chargeable super-jump which I start with, but later was allowed to upgrade. This is primarily used to scale buildings, escape capture, and tackle people out of third story windows. Now, these may seem like they contribute to a conflicting tool kit, but everything meshes together quite nicely in game. I’m happy with all the options I have available to me for progressing through the levels. Yes, I can manipulate the lighting, lure a guard into an isolated room, and seal the exit behind him, thus granting me access to a terminal with encrypted files. Or I can hang from ceiling, leap on a guard’s head and punch him no less than thirty seven times, thus granting me access to a terminal with encrypted files. While there are certain points in the game where only a single solution is really practical, I never have to bang my head against a wall while trying to figure out a single obscure way to progress. And for me, that counts for a lot, especially in puzzle games.
The controls don’t give me any trouble while playing. Most of what is required of me is simple point-and-click. The game really is much more focused on how well I use my abilities rather than how quickly I can. The only real exception to this is when I need to draw my gun before an armed guard could draw his, but hey, who doesn’t like a good ol’ fashioned quick-draw? The main point is that I never have to fight the game to do what I want it to. It’s always a relief to be able to play without screaming, “I didn’t mean to do that!” at my screen.
Graphically, Gunpoint doesn’t wow, but honestly, it doesn’t need to. The entire game has a throw-back feel and if anything, the sprite-based graphics only contribute to that. The music is decent. It has a soft noir feel that fit the game, but doesn’t really stand out. The sights and sounds in Gunpoint are never incredible, but they also never fail to get the job done.
Gunpoint is a great game to play in spare time. It’s broken up into levels that rarely take more than a couple minutes to finish, even for the slowest of players. It’s low stress, easy to learn, and a ton of fun. It also has the advantage of being pretty cheap — only ten dollars on Steam. If you’ve got a little bit of free time and the money for it, this is definitely one to pick up.
Questions? Complaints? Leave a comment below and let me know!