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Gunpoint Review


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On 06/20/2013 at 12:00 PM by Travis Hawks

Critic-made game gets critiqued.
RECOMMENDATION:

This game is many things and, most likely, it is for you.

It’s easy to attach labels to games. We want to know if it’s a first person shooter or a platformer, but sometimes that’s a bad idea. We end up sticking games into categories which become their go-to description and don’t communicate what a game’s real essence is. For this reason, I’m not even going to try and compartmentalize Gunpoint because that would be doing it a huge disservice. Even though I have no idea what sort of game Gunpoint is, I know it’s a ton of fun to play.

You’ll realize that Gunpoint is a bit unusual from the start when it tries to justify the fact that your noir styled spy-for-hire, Richard Conway, can jump to ludicrous heights and survive treacherous falls by revealing that he has high tech pants. Not only that, but he can hack into the electrics of every building to connect light switches to doors, elevators to electrical outlets, and all sorts of crazy combinations. With his crazy pants and his 1337 hacker skills, Conway undertakes a branching series of infiltration missions to retrieve data, destroy computers, and plant decoy prototypes across various buildings.

Which missions and buildings you sneak into vary based on choices you make in various text message conversations with potential clients. All of the missions are actually fairly similar in character – sneak in to this room and perform the necessary action – but how you complete them can vary significantly. Sometimes you’ll have to move in and out of several buildings and other times you’ll be limited to a single very tall building. Each mission has its own unique layout and combination of possible routes and ways to complete the objective, which keeps things from feeling repetitive even if the graphics almost never differ.

Deciding to shock a guard on patrol or cling to the ceiling while he passes underneath you can lead to very different set ups to get through the next hurdle in your path, be it locked door or security camera. In fact, it’s fun to replay some of the levels to do things in an entirely different manner and see if things play out better or worse than your initial plans did.

There is also some variation in the order you can complete the missions based on your text conversations. Perhaps you’ll side with the murder suspect or the weapons manufacturer as you proceed – and your choices do have some impact. Everyone in the story seems to be lying about something which makes it pretty confusing, but feels entirely appropriate. Betwixt the story revelations and character misdirects, there are some pretty funny moments too. The game’s creator, Tom Francis, really puts his years of experience as a writer to good use with some unexpected laugh-inducing lines. There are even good moments to be found tucked around the levels, such as an internal company memo insisting that the security cameras aren’t racist.

It’s wonderfully surprising that a game made by someone primarily skilled as a writer also has such a well-made system of controls for both movement and hacking. Each crazy jump you make feels perfectly tuned – there is no floatiness to worry about here – and using the mouse to tie together each electrical component to set your traps and move around the buildings couldn’t be more precise. The only irksome thing I encountered with the controls is that panning around the side-view levels changes based on if you’re in hacking or normal mode. It’s not too intuitive to use the mouse to pan in one scenario and the arrow keys for the other. I’m a wily freelance spy, though, and I managed to adjust by the end of the first few levels.

By the time I reached the end of the game, I was given the perfect ending at the perfect time. It was the best way to end my experience with Gunpoint – something unlike most other games I typically play. And this is why I’m not even going to try and stick this thing into some nice little pigeonhole and contribute to labeling it as one particular thing. Gunpoint is simply something that uses your brain, your sense of humor, and a wee bit of your reaction time to create a game that you should play – no matter your tastes.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

daftman

06/20/2013 at 12:33 PM

This isn't the first time I've heard good things about this game, though the Mac version is still forthcoming, if I remember correctly. Once that hits I'd love to give it a try. Rarely does a game come along that defies classification.

Aboboisdaman

06/20/2013 at 03:00 PM

I was planning on buying this soon. I thought the demo was a lot of fun. The humor and different ways you can tackle missions is a nice touch too.

V4Viewtiful

06/24/2013 at 06:45 PM

No mention of the soundtrack?

Shameful Tongue Out

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

06/24/2013 at 10:44 PM

It is amazing! I felt like I'd be hammering it into the text, so it got left out. Everyone should listen to it, even if they never play the game. It is perfect.

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