Gunpoint is an action puzzle game designed, coded and written by PC Gamer journalist Tom Francis who just recently, after Gunpoint proved to be a success, left the publication to fully pursue a career in game development. And the world now has another talented independent developer.
Gunpoint’s simple yet pleasing retro looks may fool you into thinking that the game is a throwback to times long past, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. This is a wholly modern, unique and innovative game that rewards players for experimentation. The players assume the role of freelance spy Richard Conway who gets tangled up in a rather convoluted story of murder, betrayal and industrial espionage. The writing is great for the most part, it’s witty and often intentionally breaks the fourth wall. The noir atmosphere is surprisingly strong thanks to the great soundtrack and the pleasing aesthetics.
Conway’s objective usually involves breaking into a building and retrieving sensitive data. To achieve this, the players are given complete freedom to choose whichever play style fits them best. Every mission can be completed without ever making a noise or being seen by the guards, but on the flipside, you can smash through windows, break down doors and simply kill everyone standing in your way. To do either, you earn upgrades for your newly acquired pants which allow you to jump over great heights and distances. You can also move on walls and ceilings. This allows for sneaking, but can also lead to all sorts of great action such as pouncing on a guard and knocking him out of the window.
Conway can also purchase a variety of gadgets such as the Crosslink and Wirejack which introduces you to Gunpoint’s most compelling mechanic. By changing to an alternative view mode, you can rewire electric circuits. For example, you can rewire a light switch to open a door or a motion detector to turn off the lights. Later on, you can even purchase a gadget that allows you to rewire the guard’s weapons. This complete freedom of gameplay opens up numerous possibilities and the game never penalizes you for playing the way you want to play. Different clients will have different requests such as minimal violence or leaving no living witnesses, but these are completely optional objectives that only affect how the client rates you, but the mission will still be a success and you will get payed the same.
The only major drawback is that the game is pretty short. It will definitely leave you craving for more content, but at least you can play all the missions again with all the gadgets and abilities you’ve unlocked which is compelling in its own way as it lets you further experiment with all the crazy stuff you can pull off.
Gunpoint is an original and intelligent game that treats players with respect and facilitates emergent gameplay through the use of compelling, innovative and slick mechanics.