Indie Game Review: ‘Gunpoint’
Ironically, it’s a while before you can actually get a gun.
I’d seen “Gunpoint” on Steam for a few days after it was released, and in passing, it didn’t seem that interesting. A stealth/puzzle game with pixelated graphics wasn’t enough to draw me in. Then I watched the trailer. (The one up there^.) Then I thought, “Only $10? Sold!” I’ve played games with stealth elements before, and 2D platformers aren’t anything too ground-breaking, but the Crosslink mechanic (the parts of the video where the player is connecting colored lines to things), that intrigued me. “What fiendish traps could one set up with such a device?” I wondered. Plus, hanging out on ceilings to jump down on guards and beat them silly seemed like fun. And there’s a lot of that in “Gunpoint.”
Not that you have to, mind. Each level in “Gunpoint” has a number of different sliders that rate you in terms of noise, whether people saw you, how violent you were and if you completed the mission’s optional objectives. Sometimes the person who gives you a mission will ask you to keep violence to a minimum, for example, so if you go around knocking people out of windows and converting their heads into chunky salsa with your fists, they’ll give you a poorer rating and you’ll make less money. What can you do with that money?
Buy things, of course! You don’t actually start off with the Crosslink device (the one that lets you do the glowing lines), but it’s the cheapest thing in the store. The first things you get are the Bullfrog hypertrousers. (I really wish I had hypertrousers right now. Even supertrousers would be pretty awesome.) Those allow you to leap great distances, and in conjunction with your special trenchcoat, you can survive long falls (which is handy, because you’ll be dropping off buildings like it’s going out of style).
The Crosslink device allows you to change how different security objects in a building react to each other, so you can make a light switch turn off any light in a building, or open a door, or close it and lock a guard inside a room. But you can do more complicated things too, like turn off a light on a floor to make a guard open a door, then get the light switch to link to that guard’s gun. When he goes to turn on the light, his gun will fire, hitting a guard across the room.The sound activates a sound detector, which you’ve linked to a trapdoor below the guard’s feet, causing him to fall to his death. (The thing that lets you link to guns is a more expensive item, but it is one you can get eventually.)
In fact, once missions start getting a number of different security systems (each one of which can only be linked to items of its own color), then things get tricky fast. Add in the fact that the story, which is really amusing while you’re reading the text messages on your phone (Conway the spy’s method of getting in contact with mission-givers) instantly left my head once I actually got involved in a puzzle, made things a bit more difficult than they needed to be sometimes. “Now, am I supposed to kill everybody and then hack that computer over there, or what?” Luckily, none of the levels are that large, so killing everyone and hacking everything possible is usually a safe baseline strategy.
While the retro feel of the pixelated graphics looked cool, there were times that it made armed guards really unnoticeable, and when you keep getting shot by something you can’t see, things get frustrating fast. (Though the game’s quick-save mechanic is usually a good help.)
All in all, I really enjoyed “Gunpoint,” and for only $10 on Steam, I’d heartily recommend it to everyone. The (textual) dialogue is funny, the missions are fun and the mechanic is really cool. What more can you ask for?