In Gunpoint, you play the role of a freelance detective who finds himself on all sides of a murder case at once. The story is delivered to you via an instant message style system where you can choose between various responses which actually end up having an effect on how the story plays out. Though most of your time will be spent looking at the crossview of buildings and their wiring schematics in Gunpoint’s highly unique style.
You have free control of movement all the time in Gunpoint and can even climb across ceilings, scale walls and jump from any height without fear. The tricky part is trying to always stay out of site since all officers have itchy trigger fingers and will not hesitate to put you down. One of the more unique tricks the developers came up with was using the mouse cursor to help you determine where is and is not safe. If you move the mouse to any position on screen, it will turn red to indicate that a guard would be able to see you there. But this isn’t the only helpful stealth innovation.
The other useful feature is the autosave system Gunpoint has incorporated. When you die, it offers you several different points to resume from with as small of gaps as the last 1, 3, 5 or 7 seconds from the time of death. I found the first two choices it gave me were always exactly back to the moment before I messed up. This encourages you to try things and allow yourself to make mistakes because you won’t have to redo a huge chunk of work.
Both of these points are what I love about Gunpoint and dislike about most other stealth games. They have finally figured out a way to encourage trial and error without penalizing you for every failure. There’s nothing worse than hiding in a barrel for a few minutes only to get caught and have to hide for several more minutes again. Gunpoint let’s you get right back to the action because really it’s out to challenge your mind.
Gunpoint puts a huge focus on a puzzle solving. Each building in Gunpoint is rigged with switches, sensors, lights, doors, alarms and more. Thanks to your handy crosslink tool, you can rewire all these switches to help you get to where you need to be. Every building you enter becomes a switchboard for you to use to outsmart your foes and steal valuable information.
In order to use your crosslink you just scroll the mouse wheel once and you then see the building as if it you were looking at the wiring schematics. From here you can rewire anything and everything. You don’t have to be standing next to something to rewire it, but you will have to have gained access to that circuit. There are different colored circuits around and wires will only work within their own circuits. Early on you’ll only deal with one or two circuits but by the end of the game you’ll be dealing with many more.
Usually you’re trying to rewire things in order to gain access to locked doors. Your objective is always clear right from the beginning and there is also a secondary objective that is usually a little trickier to achieve. Both require you to just figure out how to get there without being killed.
The guards that patrol the buildings naturally become more dangerous as the levels progress. Your basic guard can easily be tackled and knocked out, but you’ll need to be more clever to get rid of those armored guards. But you don’t have to get hands on with every single guard. You’re also able to use many things in the environment to help you distract, trap or incapacitate guards. I don’t want to spoil any of it because playing with that stuff is half of the fun!
Gunpoint offers a ton of great ideas for stealth gaming even though it’s really a puzzler first and foremost, but it did clock in a bit on the short side. Completable in one decent sitting (about three hours) it is a shame that there is not more challenges to do. There is some replayability in the way the story could play out, but with an included level editor I would expect there to also be a community available. I assume this has to come in some sort of future update.
There is also a small set of skills you can level up and more you can purchase. You can adjust some simple things like jump power and battery level (for special moves). Special moves can be purchased with money earned from missions and allow you to perform moves that allow you to bend the rules. For example, there is a move that allows you to break through a glass window without the noise penalty it would usually cause. None of these moves are needed to beat the game, but can come in handy if you get yourself in a pinch.
The biggest addition I feel Gunpoint needs is zoom control. At 1920x1080 everything is way too small in this game, but I didn't realize this for the first few missions. After switching to 1280x720 I had a much better experience, but sometimes I missed that far out view when trying to plan a route; other times I wanted to zoom in just because the game looks so cool. Hopefully this is something they can add with an update.
Ultimately, my tiny complaints aside, Gunpoint is a fantastic game. It is a fresh idea with a cool look and great execution. Even the pixelated weather effects are awesome looking! I highly recommend Gunpoint and hope the developers here my plea to deliver more content because that will make Gunpoint well worth the cost of entry.