Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gunpoint Review


It was a dark and stormy night...

  • Developer: Suspicious Developments
  • Publisher: Suspicious Developments
  • Release Date: 3 June 2013
  • Time played: 3 hours

Gunpoint is made by one of those people you're envious about. You know, the ones that quit their day job because they make enough money from doing something they love? Well that's exactly what Tom Francis (former writer at PC Gamer) did saying he recouped his direct development costs in just 64 seconds (i.e. a $30 copy of GameMaker). Oh and that's the other thing, did I mention that GameMaker is game creation software (yes, I know, kind of obvious considering the name)? Mind you, it did take him three years to develop the game in his spare time but this is just another wake-up call for all the wannabe game developers out there to step up to the plate! As I was curious to see how far you could go with a GameMaker-built game I decided to check it out.

Plot (4/5)
Not much is said about the setting but the game appears to be set in the near future where you're basically a freelance spy specialising in corporate espionage. At the beginning of the game you're caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, at someone's murder scene to be precise. Very soon you'll find yourself involved in a clandestine war between two large corporations.

The game is short and you don't learn too much about the world besides the laptops you find scattered on some of the levels and through conversations with the characters. However, there is sufficient material here to satisfy the amount of time you will invest the campaign.

Gameplay (5/5)
Gunpoint is a keyboard and mouse-driven affair (PC gamers rejoice!) where you use the mouse for jumping and interacting with things in "Crosslink" mode and the keyboard to move your character and interact with things at close range (e.g. buttons, computers, etc.) What's this "Crosslink" mode you may ask? Well this is where you're able to hack into the circuitry of a building and come up with some creative solutions to what would normally be insurmountable obstacles. Notice a guard next to an electrical outlet? Well you can rewire a harmless light switch to activate it instead. Unable to access a secure area? Well you could always link that motion sensor to open the door instead of triggering an alarm. And so on and so forth. The objective of each mission is usually the same which involves breaking into a building (making as little or as much ruckus as you like), hacking into a computer and then retreating to the subway. Obviously the levels become more difficult as the game progresses but it also means you have to come up with some more ingenious ways of getting through the level unscathed.

I thought Papers, Please was the most fun I had with an indie game this year. Well Gunpoint is a serious contender to that title. While I'm not a fan of platformers normally, the fact you've got multiple ways of approaching a level's objectives, ala Deus Ex, definitely makes it more fun. Do you take the all guns blazing route or do you try your best to be a ninja and not get spotted at all?

In Crosslink mode you're able to rewire electrical devices to make it easier for you to infiltrate

Sound (4/5)
Not much in the way of sound effects but the ones that are used are functional and serve the game's purpose. No voice acting in this game.

Music (5/5)
Despite this being an indie game, you can tell a lot of TLC went into creating the soundtrack. The jazzy soundtrack composed by Ryan Ike, Francisco Cerda and John Robert Matz fits the neo-noir, cyberpunk spy-thriller feel to the game perfectly. This particular one is my favourite though:



I recommend you check out their bandcamp page if you're into this kind of music.

Graphics (3/5)
Graphics are of the 2D hi-res ilk although with tiny people and objects, reminiscent of Windows games in the 90s. So the game isn't going to win any awards for awesome graphics but they do the job. They also could've put more than just pixellated mugshots for the people you converse with on your PDA.

Replay (3/5)
You're actually able to make some choices concerning which faction you help in this game and even the conversation options you pick will alter your personalised epilogue. Unfortunately, the campaign is only three hours long which means it'll be over before you know it.

Polish (5/5)
I didn't notice any serious bugs while playing which is refreshing to see nowadays.

Score – 8/10

If you can overcome the low production values that often goes hand-in-hand with indie games, you'll find a lot to enjoy in this entertaining but short neo-noir puzzle platformer.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam.

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