Gamers have seen a serious surge in the quality and depth of indie games in recent years. Likewise the indie games market has been attracting more and more attention. In the past few years we’ve seen some truly amazing titles like Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac and VVVVVV to name but a few. These games have been inventive, beautiful and above all fun. One could debate that this is due in part to these games not being tied to insanely high budgets, exhaustive release schedules or comically sad and creatively bankrupt licenses. In the age of digital distribution one thing is for certain, indie games are thriving.
As such, it comes as no surprise to me that Gunpoint is as good as it is even in a preview build, and trust me dear reader, it is by all means good. I have spent more time playing this game in the past week than is probably healthy. Its demanding and strategy-oriented gameplay along with its tight controls and satisfying reward system have kept me coming back and left me aching to get my hands on the finished product.
You play as a crafty industrial spy for hire with a lot of tricks up his sleeve. Starting out you have the ability to leap from standing to halfway up the side of a building, cling to and climb up walls and fall from great heights without being harmed. All of your starting abilities feel very tight and responsive even at this early stage in development. Your goal in each level may vary depending on the requirements of your employer but essentially the idea is to break into a building undetected by any security guards or cameras that may be present. Each one of these levels plays like a sort of logic puzzle, presenting you with multiple barriers to your goals and you must creatively subvert them. Most of the levels have something of a clearly intended flow if you’re paying attention. This doesn’t lessen the challenge at all but it does provide you with a general idea of what needs to be done to complete them. One of this game’s real strong suits is that you are not beholden to even the hinted progression of a mission, if you can find a new and interesting way to complete a level you are free to do so.
Crosslink Gadget and Mission Structure
The real meat of the game comes when you unlock the Crosslink gadget. This handy little device lets your character alter the electrical connections of circuits in your target building wirelessly. You are able to jump into Crosslink mode and do something crafty like rewire a door switch to a security camera. Then you can just run into the camera’s field of view and the door is opened. This is quite possibly one of the most fun and rewarding mechanics of any game I have played in recent memory. It’s just plain fun to be able to wire a light switch on one floor to a light on another and confuse the heck out of a roaming security guard. There are plenty of other unlockable gadgets in the game that open up many fun options for completing your missions and the game does a good job of meting them out to you to keep things interesting.
You will encounter a lot of hindrances along the way to completing your missions. Security guards roam the halls waiting to shoot any trespassers on sight, cameras watch dutifully outside entrances and of course you still have to actually get inside the building. As mentioned before you start with the ability to jump very high and very fast. If your target has a glass window this can be a particularly easy point of entry. All you have to do is hold down the left mouse button to power up your jump and come crashing through. Of course you may want to make sure there are no security guards on that floor unless you just have some sort of death wish. I also made note earlier that you can use the Crosslink gadget to do things like rewire a light switch to a door panel to gain entry to another area of a building. Options like this represent some of the most satisfying gameplay I have experienced in quite a while. You get a real sense of accomplishment when you are able to spook a guard by turning off the lights, clinging to a wall and waiting to pounce on him in the dark.
All this gushing aside I have noticed some issues with the game specifically with the all important Crosslink gadget. I have noticed that in a few levels it seems that the rewiring mechanic just flat out does not work on some devices. In one of the first missions after I got the Crosslink I was able to rewire two objects between floors but in the very next level this same tactic did not work at all. Inconsistencies like this can be very frustrating and a bit confounding but these issues are excusable for the moment as this is only a preview build. Hopefully all of these bugs will be ironed out in the final product. Even through random crashes and game breaking inconsistencies, I have found myself returning to Gunpoint during breaks at my day job trying to sneak in just one more mission while I have the chance.
Gunpoint definitely has a little while to go in development before release, but I do hope it comes out sooner rather than later because I am already addicted. I have no doubt in my mind that when it does release, it will be an instant classic.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We were asked by developer, Tom Francis, not to post any videos or screen shots from this build. The screen shot used in the header was given to us for our interview earlier this month.