Absolutely hilarious writing and great sense of humor; Good blend of a puzzler and a stealth-platformer
Odd degree of difficulty; WAY too short
Stealth… With Style
The downloadable market is filled with the bizarre, the strange, the original. Â It’s not hard to see why: If a game fails to have a catchy hook that digs into the player’s skin, it’ll sink to the bottom of the sea of mediocrity, forever known as the little gem that couldn’t find its luster. Â In this respect, Gunpoint is ambitious. Â Although the gameplay might leave you thoroughly hungry for more, its still a well-balanced diet of stealth espionage, puzzle-solving, and platforming presented in an easy-to-digest amount. Â But the real charm lies in the writing: Gunpoint comes packed with a sarcastic, narcissistic, self-aware,Â boldÂ flavor that has never tasted so good.
Gunpoint places you in the shoes of the sharp-tongued, freelance spy Richard Conway. Â Within a minute of the game’s beginning, you’ll be thrown amidst the crossfire of a brutal murder â€”Â one that you’ll soon be accused of committing â€”Â leaving you with no choice but to clear your name and find the real killer.
It’s a hell of a cliche, and it’s been done in pretty much every good detective movie ever. Â Gunpoint is fully aware of this fact, and spends the rest of the plot making fun of itself, its characters, and the redundant fetch quests. Â And it is, quite literally, some of the most brilliant writing I’ve ever seen.
The entirety of the narrative is told through in-game Instant Messaging with Conway’s PDA. Â While text-based conversations are generally an ancient form of telling a video game’s story, it fits Gunpoint like a glove. Â Little things, like grammatical errors from certain characters, or notifications that your client is currently typing a message, give the cheesy situation a realistic and creative feel. Â Conway also has different dialogue options to choose from. Â While many of these are just cosmetic changes and don’t affect the story in any way, they are a pureÂ GOLD MINEÂ of hilarity. Â I lost track of the giggles and outbursts I had playing this game solely from the writing. Â Heck, even the achievement names gave me a few laughs. Â The plot itself is rather interesting, but these nuggets of delight give it unabashed character. Â I’ve told friends this, and I’ll say it again: Gunpoint is one of the funniest games I’ve ever played.
Thankfully, the basic game mechanics don’t take a backseat to the writing. Â As a top-of-the-line spy, Richard Conway has access to a large amount of unique gadgets that help him navigate levels and stay hidden. Â The two most notable are directly story-related: The Crosslink (which allows him to rewire security features of a building, like locked doors and alarms) and the Bullfrog Hypertrousers. Â The latter is more than just an oddly named fashion statement, and gives Conway the ability to leap enormous distances and fall from vast heights without taking damage. Â As you take more jobs and gain revenue, you’ll slowly gain access to new equipment and upgrades, and they each offer their own advantages to aid you in missions.
Gunpoint’s gameplay revolves around these various tools, and blends in elements of the stealth and puzzle genre to make use of them. Â You’re usually encouraged to sneak around the map, without alerting or harming guards, until you’ve made your way to an objective (which is generally a computer terminal that needs to be hacked). Â After you’ve acquired the Crosslink tool, an extra dynamic is added. Â Various security and electrical devicesÂ â€” from motion sensors, to locked doors, to lightbulbs, to elevatorsÂ â€” can be rewired at will to help you navigate to previously-inaccessible areas.
Level design, however, is quite a mixed bag. Â From a stealth-platformer point of view, you’ll have no trouble whatsoever. Â Very few guards usually inhabit a building, and those that do are easily taken care of with a swift Hypertrouser pounce. Â Figuring out how items need to be connected in the Crosslink, though;Â thatÂ can be a little bit more challenging. Â As the game progresses, solutions to levels naturally get more complex, but they’re never anything a few seconds of head-scratching can’t overcome.
Graphics & Sound
Using the tried-and-true method of incorporating 8-bit graphics to a modern indie game, Gunpoint really has nothing to write home about. Â A pretty bare palette of grays, blacks, and browns create the game world and, while they’re never bad, you won’t be sparked by a unique art style. Â The soundtrack isn’t much more diverse, but the endlessly repeated loops are still fun to listen to. Â While sneaking around the map, you’ll hear a super-sleuth tune reminiscent of classic detective movies; swap over to the Crosslink hacking interface, and the soundtrack dynamically and seamlessly shifts to a techno recreation of the same beat.
As fun as the gameplay can be, it’s disappointing that the levels are never all that challenging. Â Most are a breeze and can be waltzed through, until the final levelÂ â€” where the difficulty is suddenly ramped up an enormous degree. Â After clearing every previous stage in under a minute, the climax of Gunpoint ultimately left me baffled for a solid ten minutes before I was able to scrounge together an improvised method of winning. Â It was still fun, albeit slightly cumbersome.
My biggest gripe on Gunpoint is the length. Â It canÂ easilyÂ be finished in one sitting. Â Perhaps this was intentional, and filler levels might have taken away from Gunpoint’s charm. Â However, the fact of the matter is that the game ends LONG before any of the gameplay mechanics grow tiresome, and it hardly gives you enough time to try out the various new gadgets and upgrades to be bought. Â Unless you plan on recycling the handful of levels on display, Gunpoint loses its luster after its been completed.
In an apparent attempt to hide this fault, Gunpoint includes a level editor. Â It’s nothing too in-depth and some creative minds could spend a few hours in it, but without the ability to share or download user-created levels online, this feature will be irrelevant to most audiences.
You can also chase after different badges and ranks for different stages, and discover an alternate end mission, but even then, it’s not enough to keep you coming back for more than two or three sessions.
Gunpoint’s got class, it’s got style, it’s got wit, and it’s a solid title all around. Â For the price of a movie ticket, you can get about the same amount of enjoyment. Â To a gamer, that often just isn’t enough to warrant a purchase. Â While I strongly recommend you play Gunpoint at some time in your life, there’s nothing that makes this a pressing title to play. Â All I’ll say is this â€”Â If you’ve been looking for a lengthy title to invest time in, look elsewhere: If you’ve been looking for a classy title to invest money in, look no further.