Gunpoint

I give the developer credit for one of the most fitting taglines I’ve ever seen- “A game about hacking things and punching people.” But the fun is in the variety. Do you kill the lights and rewire the light switch to open the door, so you can run in and punch the guard when he tries to get them back on? Do rewire a camera to the door controls, so it punches the guard when you step into its range? Or, my favorite moment from the trailer, wire a long-winded path of circuits from the hand-scanner to another security door down the hall, so the guard effectively punches himself?

Or do you throw subtlety out the window, kick the door in and... you know where this is going.

Or do you throw subtlety out the window, kick the door in…  you know where this is going.

Anyway, you hack a circuit, punch out some guards, and do… whatever you came to that building for. The various objects on the circuits help you take out enemies and open new paths. There is a gun, but it’s more for forcing guards to back off, as any shots fired from your own weapon will bring the police in under sixty seconds. Most of the purchasable items work similarly, being more tools than weapons. The gun bit smacks a little of MGS-style “give you a weapon but punish you for actually using it”, but otherwise it’s great.

The story is so: Conway, the fellow you are playing as, accidentally launches himself (quite literally) into the scene of a murder at a local weapons company, leaving himself as the sole suspect. Thankfully, the CEO knows the truth, and is willing to keep him out of prison if he tracks down the true culprit. There are other employers over the course of the game, fitting Conway’s freelance status, but all the missions revolve around the murder and the people involved. The speech options will sometimes have an effect, but are mostly for letting you play Conway as the typical hard-boiled detective, or snarky goofball.

Conway's an amusing fellow, if nothing else.

Conway’s an amusing fellow, if nothing else.

The two major elements of the game complement each other beautifully. The combat is delivered in short, fast-paced encounters. Either Conway or the guard who spotted him will be incapacitated in ten seconds or less, and single punch or bullet is enough. Thankfully, the game will give you options for how far back you wish to go when killed. Rewinding the game time one second may be plenty if the player just missed a jump, and this is a welcome improvement over checkpoints or being forced to restart. The hacking is more relaxing in terms of not having a strict time limit, but forces the player to think through what they can manipulate in the environment, and if those components can be used to achieve a greater goal. This is especially true once the game introduces levels that have multiple circuits, meaning the player has to access each fuse box in the building to gain full control.

The graphics do a fine job of portraying the dying city that serves as the game’s setting. They also do it without taxing your (possibly non-existent) graphics card, which is a plus. The levels feel huge compared to the player-character and NPC’s, whose heights can be measured in pixels. One would expect the game to be hard to read because of this, but the details such as where a guard is facing can still be easily seen. The cursor will also turn red when in a guard’s line of sight, show how far your “bullfrog hypertrousers” will send you, and give a quick bit of info on whatever guard or device it is hovering over. This is a vital addition in a stealth game like this, as information trumps firepower any day. Oh, and I love the music. Most of the soundtrack is laid back jazz that makes you feel like the coolest person on earth as you clear out each level.

Well, except for when you screw up.

Well, except for when you screw up.

The game is available on Steam for $10. Granted, the game is on the shorter side, but I feel it is worth the price. And if you don’t think the same, well… sales. That is all.

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