Platform : PC
Release Date : Jun 2013
Price : £6.99 (Steam)
Over the last few years the indie scene has begun to grow out of the shadow of big publishers and their triple-A titles and has blossomed into a fantastic market with games galore. Admittedly there are many that simply don’t cut the mustard, but plenty of quality gaming experiences make it through and all for a much lower price than your average Call of Duty or Battlefield. There are those with so much depth and variety that they can keep you going for hundreds of hours, then there are those that only last a short time yet are so good it simply leaves you crying out for more. Gunpoint falls into the latter.
You play as Richard Conway, a spy for hire with second-to-none hacking skills and mechanical jumping pants that allow him to leap large distances in a single moment. Richard can also use a “Crosslink” to rewire electrical devices to do his bidding, from opening doors at the press of a light switch to shorting out plug sockets when entering an elevator. You’ll need these gadgets too, as Richard is implied in a murder case and must prove his innocence they only way he knows how – spying!
As you progress through the story, you’ll be presented with ever more challenging areas where you’ll usually have to steal some information by breaking in, dealing with the guards and traps and making it out alive. Guards are not to be trifled with – if they spot you they’ll shoot on sight, and bullets are deadly, so you’ll often have to find ways of disabling them first. This is where your variety of skills comes in handy – you could short-circuit a nearby panel to disable them, switch the lights off to make them patrol somewhere else or just jump into them and punch their own lights out. It’s up to you!
Graphically the game is nice and simple, with great pixel art easily allowing you to spot what everything is without being too detailed, and using the crosslink gives every electrical device a colourful glow to indicate what you can do with it. It’s atmospheric without being outlandish and is a welcome change to a multitude of things flying around a screen – you don’t even get a HUD. Not that you need one, as it has just WASD for movement and your mouse for actions.
The view when using the crosslink
As you gain cash for completing your missions you can purchase even more equipment and skills to make your life easier. These aren’t mandatory though – you can choose not to buy them if you wish, although some are worth it. Being able to jump through glass without making a huge noise can be a real benefit.
Gunpoint does have one glaring issue however, and that is with its longevity. The story itself barely took me three hours to complete, and whilst you can always replay to get better grades it doesn’t give you anything different. You’re left wanting much more – more levels, more story, more gadgets – and they just aren’t there. Whilst the game does come with a level editor, you have to upload or download levels from a third-party website like gunpointlevels.net, rather than an official place within the game.
I very much enjoyed Gunpoint. The variety of methods you can use to make it through the various levels means you can easily replay it a few times and come up with different tactics to make it through. The graphics and music match the almost film-noir setting wonderfully, and the controls are simple and easy to understand. Where it falls down is that it simply doesn’t last long enough.
I honestly hope that the developers continue to support it and add more levels, or a new campaign to play through, as after finishing I was left with an overwhelming desire to continue playing. Hopefully we’ll get to do just that.