Gunpoint Review (PC)
I knew he was trouble the second he walked through the door. He had a video game in his hand and a look of desperation in his eye. Said he had nobody else to turn to, nobody would take his case. He’d been on the run for too long, he needed to calm down. “Tom” I said, “Don’t worry, I can fix this for you – I’ll review Gunpoint.” And that’s how this whole mess started…
If you like tongue-in-cheek slightly hacky Film Noir detective stories, then let me save you some trouble. Stop reading this and go buy Gunpoint now.
Gunpoint is a game in which you, as the ever-iconic “Spy in a Trenchcoat” character must break into buildings to steal information, plant evidence and get out – preferably without being seen. It plays as part platformer, as you have a pair of “Bullfrog HyperTrousers” (allowing you to jump crazy heights and distances, as well as survive fall damage), and after a prologue level to set the scene, it also becomes part puzzle game.
Gunpoint’s hook is that as a super-secret-agent, you have a device that lets you rewire a building’s electrical systems. Want to get through that door? Find a switch, wire it to the door and you can open and shut it at will. Want to make the guards confused? Switch the lights off, then disconnect the light switch – for added fun you might consider wiring the light switch to a power socket so that when the confused guard tries to investigate and switch the lights back on, he electrocutes someone. In later levels, there are different circuits that must be taken over, and systems have to be on the same circuit to interact with each other.
The interplay of the platformer elements of jumping, crashing through a plate glass window and taking out a guard, combined with the potential for stealth, remote take-downs and general electrical mayhem creates something that pushes all the right buttons. That there’s also an upgrade system to buy new gear and enhance your abilities which is the icing on top of the already addictive cocaine cake.
If I had to nitpick, I’d pick out two things as being deficient in Gunpoint – firstly I feel it is a game that screams out for controller support and that is mouse/keyboard only I hope is an oversight that will be corrected soon. Secondly, I felt that in some levels, the “choose your style” nature of the game was sacrificed and there seemed to be a single solution to the puzzle that the building presented. It’s the same story we see in a lot of engaging do-anything type games, that when the possible paths do become constrained, it’s even more immersion breaking than if the whole game had been like that.
For £6.99, Gunpoint is a steal. There’s enough to the campaign to keep you occupied for a few hours, and it even has a small branching narrative such that there’s replay value to the whole as well as going back to specific missions to explore different tactics. It’s all woven together in a compelling and comically self-aware plot and dialogue system that retains its charm and Film Noir style whilst being able to laugh at itself and it’s own plot twists. Gunpoint is a fantastic view of what’s still possible whilst still being fairly simple. It’s a great window dressing over the top of what is a fairly basic puzzle game and that’s what makes it work so well.
Buy this game now. If controller support gets added, buy a second copy.
4.5 dime-store paperbacks out of 5