I picked up Gunpoint for $6 during the Steam Summer Getaway Sale. I’d had my eye on it for some time, but perhaps by philosophy, osmosis, or radiation agent86ix has started to convince me to learn the tricks to save a few bucks. After all of the wallet abuse of the Summer Sale I’ve got a pretty good backlog to work through, but I couldn’t help but crack this one open as soon as I had it. I didn’t regret it.
Learning to fly
When it comes to artful parkour, we learned a long time ago that I’m as uncoordinated in gaming as I am in real life. On the other far extreme from the rhythmic three dimensional jumps and slides of Mirror’s Edge is Gunpoint’s jump mechanic. It’s more like easy mode Angry Birds, except you can fall an infinite distance, prep guards for your fist of justice (we’ll get to that), or break plate glass windows. It’s one of the first things you’ll do in the game, and it quickly becomes one of your favorite. By the end I was coordinating guard pounces through three broken windows, or hairpin jumps off the highest building onto my face. Tons of fun.
No review of Gunpoint is complete without a brief discussion of the tactile percussion that gets played throughout the game on the faces of numerous security personel. Due to a quick save feature, the game is actually pretty easy since the penalty for failing is rarely more than a quick spring back a few seconds in time. At the same time, any particular confrontation usually ends quickly with either our hero bleeding out with a bullet in his chest, or a guard getting fist pumped to the face Jersey Shore style. You might tell yourself that you’ll be a non-violent hero (that’s unlikely), but I believe even the pacifists out there will occasionally want to destroy something beautful after a particularly tricky security adversary has been downed.
Wirejacking.. just wow
So past the solid platforming scaffolding, the game reveals it’s true beauty – the wirejack. Wirejacking allows you to rewire electrical devices within a building, to solve problems and cause mayhem. It may be the simplest and most entertaining form of conditional programming I’ve ever seen. At first you’ll just be using light switches to open doors, but before long you’ll be setting off complex conditional sensor sequences, and exploiting AI canned reactions to create what is essentially just a very clever, interactive, IF condition. It is by far the most unique concept in the game, and I hope that it’s something that Tom Francis and his team can riff on in future iterations of this game and others.
Rounding out a great game, is a great story you don’t expect. While your dialogue options are pretty straightforward at first, you’ll soon find you have choices to make. Some are as simple as a choice between snarky or chivalrous, but some have greater consequences. Sometimes your employers even force you to pick sides and decide whether your a jerk with a heart of gold, or just a jerk.
All in all, the game is an utter gem. It will make an impression on you, and leave you wanting more. End to end it feels a little short, but for an indie title with a low price it wasn’t offensive to me. Given replayability, and a level generator, it may actually tie you up for quite a while. Enjoy… and don’t pull your punches.