What would you do with pants that gave you the ability to scale buildings with a single bound and land without injury? In Gunpoint, you’d put them through their paces as you attempt to unravel the reasons behind the murder of a high profile weapons manufacturer, and clear your own name in the process. While the story has had plenty of thought put into it, Gunpoint’s strengths lie in its diverse mechanics and solid stealth-based gameplay. Be forewarned: this game won’t give you that bang-for-your-buck, but it’s definitely worth a look to see just how far $30 worth of game development can go.
Freelance spy Richard Conway works several jobs throughout the story, which usually requires him to break into buildings filled with guards, motion and sound detectors, security cameras, and alarms. Conway navigates the environment by making good use of his “Bullfrog” hypertrousers, which can launch him to great heights, propel him through windows, or tackle guards to the ground so he can pummel them into submission. A simple mouse button hold shows a parabola illustrating Conway’s projected arc; he can stick to walls and the ceiling by simply jumping onto them, away from the eyes of patrolling guards.
After Conway purchases the Crosslink device, he can tap into terminals to affect how switches, alarms and circuits work in the game. It opens the game up nicely by introducing some puzzle elements to the stealth-based platformer. In order to get to your objectives, you will be rewiring switches to open doors, deactivating cameras and even rewiring enemy weapons.
Missions are fairly straight forward; your clients’ requests include hacking computers or stealing items, and completing the mission is as simple as exiting the building and ducking into the nearby subway station. Guards are incredibly trigger happy and will immediately shoot you on sight; a very quick reload system that restores progress from up to three time periods minimises frustration and encourages experimentation.
Successfully completing objectives rewards you with additional cash, which can be used to purchase additional abilities, such as deadening the sound of breaking glass, quietening your falls, and acquiring your very own handgun. Mission ratings reveal whether you prefer a loud or soft approach, the number of witnesses, and the time you took in carrying out your tasks. Perfectionists will get some replay value out of attempting to perfect the levels, but once the rewiring problems have been “solved”, it doesn’t take long to finish each level anyway.
Gunpoint’s major drawback is its very short length – completing the main story will take up almost 3 hours – but the inclusion of a level editor adds to its longevity. Other than that, there’s no denying the success of Gunpoint’s execution. The premise is simple and the mechanics are accessible, and it doesn’t take long to master. It has a healthy mix of puzzling, stealth and skill-based gameplay, and it will leave you wanting more. Throw a couple of dollars at this to appreciate some good indie gaming.