Gunpoint Review: Wearing the Pants of Great Stealth, Puzzles
Despite its name, your best weapon in indie stealth/puzzler Gunpoint isn’t your gun — it’s your pants.
It’s jumping, and not shooting, that turns you into an awesome freelance secret agent in Gunpoint. Your “Bullfrog” brand pants let you leap through the air at incredible speeds, fall from any height, and tackle and pin enemies to stop them from killing you. Your phenomenal pants give you the ability to climb around buildings and sneak in through rooftop skylights — but they’re not even Gunpoint’s major mechanic.
Though you use your Bullfrog pants to get around, Gunpoint is a stealth game that’s really obscuring a puzzler. Though all stealth can be considered puzzle-solving, things are a bit more literal in Gunpoint, as you rework the circuitry of buildings to strategically open and close doors to get past enemies and steal data. With great, funny dark comedic writing, a bit of a mystery story to uncover, and lots of levels that are as much a puzzle to solve as careful infiltration mission, Gunpoint achieves a little something unique in both genres.
Developer: Suspicious Developments
Publisher: Suspicious Developments
Released: June 3, 2013
Gunpoint starts with a murder and a conspiracy. When freelance espionage agent Richard Conway is pinged by a woman to help her uncover a mystery, she is immediately killed, and Conway finds himself potentially on the hook for her murder thanks to surveillance camera footage. With the help of the woman’s employer, Conway sets out to eliminate the footage, find the murderer, and figure out what’s going on between the two biggest weapons manufacturing companies in the city.
All that is achieved through a number of side-scrolling levels in which Conway has to get into a building, get past the guards therein, and get out with whatever information or object is necessary to complete his objectives. Stealth is a big part of the game because a single shot is enough to bring Conway (or anyone else) down, so attacking enemies outright is next to impossible. Instead, Conway has to use his pants to leap into, onto, atop or over buildings, climb the walls and find other entrances — and he has to use your brain to make it through each of the game’s levels unscathed.
As mentioned before, a huge part of sneaking through these buildings has little to do with “sneaking” at all, but with a clever puzzle system called Crosslink. The Crosslink allows the player to rewire electrical systems in a given building, provided those systems are of the same-colored circuit. This means that you can instantly make a light switch open a door instead of activating a light, or make a motion detector switch on a camera, which will call an elevator, which will distract a guard so you can slip past. Getting good at Crosslinking allows you a huge number of options for dealing with lots of situations, especially if you get creative.
Almost more than stealth, Crosslink dominates how you’ll actually play Gunpoint. You might approach the entrance of a building and find that you can’t get through a door until you Crosslink it with something inside the guards might activate unwittingly, for example, and there are a lot of places throughout the game in which you’ll seemingly need to figure out the correct Crosslink pair, or combination (lots of items can be chained together for specific actions) in order to make it through a puzzle. There’s some freedom there, but the game is also often set up to deliberately challenge you to figure out how to turn a building to your advantage.