Everyone wants to be a secret agent at some point in their lives. With role models like James Bond, Jason Bourne and the Men in Black, it’s no wonder that we all want to use cool gadgets, drive fast cars and look as good in a suit as Will Smith. Gunpoint lets you live out that fantasy, except instead of glamour and women with ridiculous names, Richard Conway has a pair of bullfrog trousers and a Crosslink. It is those two things that elevate Gunpoint from a merely good stealth puzzle game to an absolutely great one.
Bullfrog trousers, aside from sounding fantastic, are tremendously useful. These special pants allow the wearer to jump to great heights at alarming speeds. Conway can scale buildings and jump from one floor to another if, say, a trap door is open. He can also propel himself through the air fast enough to shatter windows and knock out most guards. If, when channeling James Bond, you get more Daniel Craig than Pierce Brosnan, the bullfrogs will let you take out the opposition by way of launching yourself at them, giggling like an idiot and punching them.
We’re getting there. Gunpoint is almost special. Though different, the Bullfrog trousers are on par with a watch with a laser on it, an invisible car and a pair of sunglasses that make the wearer know kung fu. Conway’s second piece of amazing technology is the Crosslink, and it makes the game a joy to play. Explaining the Crosslink makes it sound a bit boring; hopefully a description of its uses fares better.
In a late game level, I was able to wire a light switch to call an elevator and a sound detector to a door. When that elevator arrived, the sound detector started going off, and I was able to waltz into the server room and steal the files I was after. On another occasion, I couldn’t figure out how to sneak by a couple of guards. I wired a motion sensor to one guard’s gun, walked through the motion sensor and smiled to myself after hearing a thump two floors up. With one guard down, I could walk up the stairs, wait for the now lone guard to turn around, launch myself at him and punch him a couple of times to ensure he wouldn’t be getting back up.
A third time I wired a light switch to a power socket, and that same power socket to a motion detector. When an armored guard walked through the motion detector, I flipped the switch and electrocuted him. The Crosslink ensures that each level can be approached a number of different ways, and no matter what way occurs to you, you’ll feel smart for coming up with it and implementing it well.
Gunpoint’s main flaw is game length. My first playthrough was finished within three hours of installation. I don’t think that every game needs to be a 200-hour epic, but when the credits rolled, I still wasn’t ready to be done. So I moved to perfecting all of the levels I played, and starting a new playthrough to see what missions I missed in my first one. There are also user-created missions to take, so a short campaign isn’t a deal-breaker, but don’t come in expecting deviously hard puzzles. They won’t come, because by the time you’ve played long enough to master your abilities, the game is over.
Don’t let that one complaint deter you though; Gunpoint is a game that everyone should play, regardless of whether stealth is their preferred genre.
Pros: Crosslink is fun and imaginative, levels can be solved numerous ways
Cons: The game ends sooner than you’ll want it to