Move over, 007. There’s a new spy in town and he’s ready to break windows, rewire security systems and do whatever it takes to get the job done. Who is this spy, you ask? Why, it’s you, the player!
Gunpoint is Suspicious Developments’, helmed by Tom Francis, first title. Released on 3 June 2013, Gunpoint is a 2D stealth puzzle game that lets you decide how you want to reach your goal, whether that is through brute force or by using a more subtle approach.
The game starts off by throwing you out of a window before sending you on your way to meet a client. However, before you reach the client she is killed and, being a freelance spy, it is up to you to offer your services to solve this murder plot. It won’t be long until the game draws you in with its witty dialogue and various twists and turns.
All this happens without the narrative being forced down the player’s throat, a feat in itself.
Gunpoint is an interesting game because it clearly spells out everything you can and should do, but manages to do so without resorting to dialogue boxes taking up the whole of your screen. Instead, it provides quick, bite-sized tips and then sends you on your way to experiment.
This works particularly well to encourage players to think outside the box without leaving them stranded due to a lack of understanding.
Another helpful feature is the addition of multiple “checkpoints”. Upon death the game shows several options to reload. These can range from going back 2 seconds to 30 seconds or more. Such a feature would be highly impractical for the likes of FPS’s and other fast-paced games as it removes the threat, and the associated sense of danger.
However, Gunpoint is not about killing thousands of enemies or even blazing through buildings like a bulldozer on steroids. The option to quickly retry a failed jump or to rethink your approach encourages experimentation, and this is precisely where Gunpoint shines.
The game provides the player with a limited number of gadgets but the versatility of these gadgets aid the gameplay, rather than impose restrictions. It gives the 2D levels a sense of depth that many 3D titles can only aspire to achieve.
An example is the gun, which can be used to shoot guards, though some guards can be help up at gunpoint. Get too close and guards will shoot, stay at a safe distance and you can evaluate your options but the guard will still pose a threat.
Even upon successfully navigating a level players will find themselves immediately thinking of alternative routes they could have taken, and this is where the game gets its replay value from. Although the levels never change, tactics can and will upon each successful playthrough. The level editor, as the name implies, lets players create their own challenges further adding to the replay value of the game.
At the end of the day, I can only fault the game for how short it is. Then again, this is not a game made by a team of hundreds of developers with a platoon of investors behind them. Instead, this is a game that was made by a team that is passionate about games and it is evident when you play the game.
The game does not run on an extremely advanced engine but Suspicious Development has done a fantastic job setting the mood and creating a setting that allows for some of the more ridiculous moments, including the dialogues, without ever making them feel out of place.
Gunpoint is available for £6.99 inc vat. through Steam, and a DRM free version is available through the game’s website for the equivalent of approximately £6.40 inc vat. At these prices it would be a crime to deny yourself a day in the life of a freelance spy. Did I mention you can jump through windows and take your enemies down with you?