Wednesday, 31 July 2013


Post-Launch Review
Developer: Suspicious Developments
Released: June 3rd 2013


Freelance spy Richard Conway finds himself tied up in a murder investigation when he's caught on camera near the scene of the crime. As Conway works to clear his name, the jobs he works begin to expose a bigger conspiracy, and Conway is forced to choose a side.

At Launch

Average review scores came in at 84%. Critics praised the gameplay, art style, music, and writing, while knocking its length (which is short). The Crosslink (rewiring tool) was the aspect that most impressed.

Post Launch

A couple of patches were released to fix some (mostly minor) issues. The patch notes are actually hilarious - for example, "Fixed a bug that rendered the game unable to cope with how cool you look walking backwards into a subway with your gun drawn, leading to a crash".
A major patch overhauled the game into a new engine to fix a lot of bugs and improve performance, and added Steam Workshop functionality, allowing users to share levels.

The Good

Stealth-Puzzle Gameplay
Gunpoint has a lot of clever stuff going on, and it's not all what I expected. When the first level introduces the Bullfrog jump pants, I expected that to be the major core feature... but it's really not. The main gameplay element is your ability to remotely rewire circuitry to trigger doors, traps, cameras, and alarms. Especially in later levels, a lot of components are on different circuits, which you have to physically access to tap and be able to manipulate remotely. But in addition to all that,  you can climb on walls and ceilings, jump huge distances, fall without getting injured, and unlock more abilities like kicking down doors or avoiding bullets.
This all adds up to some pretty intricate puzzles where you have to crawl all over a building, mixing up circuitry to access a new node, which gives you control over more circuitry, which lets you access another node, which eventually gives you access to your objective. At the end of the mission you're rated on time, violence, times spotted, and noise - the less of each, the better. Having to watch out for noise, witnesses, and optional objectives keeps the game interesting.

Story & Setting
The game doesn't give you too much detail regarding the world - you learn only what you hear on the job - but it's pretty interesting. There's been some kind of gun ban, and you're caught up between feuding gun manufacturers, one of which no longer actually makes lethal guns. The choice at the end of the game is an interesting one that I'd like to see in more games: do you condemn an innocent man to catch a guilty one, or let the guilty man go free to protect the innocent?

Many of the achievements are for fun or silly stuff, the kind of things you might try just to see if it works - kicking a door into a guard, kicking a door out a window, hitting yourself with a door, falling really far, etc. Some are hilariously self-aware, like "Acknowledged Ludonarrative Dissonance", for choosing a dialogue option that points out how many people you've killed or injured to save one or two. Or "Title Finally Relevant", which you earn by holding a guard at gunpoint - a situation that takes quite a while to happen because the gun is one of the most expensive unlocks.

Nice, classy noir feel to the music. It changes when you swap in and out of the Crosslink.

Phone (PDA?)
Conway's phone serves as the hub of the game. From the phone, you can access mission offers, the store, your upgrades, and your options. When you accept a mission you have a conversation with your new employer via text message. This may seem minor but I always appreciate when a game makes the effort to explain the menu system in-universe.
Level Editor
You can make your own stages and you can share your custom levels with other players via the Steam Workshop, which adds some replayability and creativity. 

The Verdict

Recommendation: play it.
Gunpoint is a clever little puzzle game with solid and interesting mechanics. Not a real standout for me, but it'll take you 3 hours or less and costs only $10, so it's totally worth a shot. I had fun.

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