Hands On: Gunpoint

By Jim Rossignol on March 30th, 2012 at 7:00 pm.


I should probably disclose that I’ve known the developer of Gunpoint, PC Gamer’s Tom Francis, for a few years now, having worked with him on that magazine in the dark times before RPS. And that means playing Gunpoint has a peculiar flavour to it, for me. I’m aware of the kinds of games that have had a significant influence on Francis – such as the platformer N, Deus Ex, Hitman, Splinter Cell, and so on – and I can see these sorts of influences displayed right on the surface of Gunpoint. We are each of us our interests, of course, and I am sure this kind of thing is true of all indie developers, but seeing how someone’s brain remixes and recompiles the stuff they love has never been quite so clear to me as when playing the post-IGF build of this intricate platformer.


Gunpoint is a side-on single-screen game about stealing information from a building. You play a gadget-enhanced agent, who can leap enormous distances, climb up walls, rewire building internals, and get shot, dying instantly and make me yell “Fffff-damn it!” Even in its incomplete, early state, it is enormously entertaining.

Each level is a puzzle of locked doors, guards, and other security elements, which you must bypass to achieve the mission’s target. There’s usually a sub-mission, too, such as leaving everything as you found it, or stealing an extra piece of kit that might be a little harder to get to without dying, or indeed, without knocking out guards.


One of the key gadgets is the cross-link. This allows you to link the action of one thing to another. At its simplest it means that you could make turning on a light open a door, but the potential for the complexity of this to escalate is where both the interesting challenge of the game lies and, I would imagine, the difficulty for Francis as a level designer. As a tool for the player it immediately creates one of those sorts of games where you begin messing about and experimenting with what is possible. After a few levels the solution is no longer obvious, and you have to do start empoloying that gamer’s equivalent of the scientific method: apply previous techniques and adapting your approach until you find a way through.

What’s most joyous about this is that Francis has, through a bit of experimentation, discovered something that speaks to his interests and influences, while also feeling like something quite unlike other games. It’s the sort of reward that indie games throw up with fascinating regularity, and you can see why people anticipate these kinds of tiny victories from the indie circuit. They’re one of the best things about both being a developer and a player.

Watch this:

What Francis also seems intent on doing it to provide a window on each level for your character to dive through as they complete their mission. Whether or not you actually need to dive through the window, you seem to end up doing it anyway. Or at least I do.


Yes, what underscores it all is Francis’ silly sense of humour. The mission-dispensing dialogues at the start of the game – which will be a mini-RPG dialogue tree in the full game – currently have you in a fourth-wall breaking chat with the developer, and it’s that kind of cheery gaminess that I think characterises Gunpoint as a whole. When you jump a guard you can punch him to knock him out, although the temptation is to frenziedly pummel him. And the game notices if that’s what you do, leaving you feel a bit embarassed.

Anyway, I think there’s every reason to be mildly excited by this Gunpoint. Francis was originally planning on giving this game away for free. People have (I believe) convinced him that he would be mad to do so. Which is good. Because he would have been.

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65 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    El_MUERkO says:

    As a preorderererer I’ve had the chance to sample the game and I have to say I enjoy it immensely, diving on a guard and riding him out a window doesn’t get old :D

    • drplote says:

      Where would one do such pre-ordering?

    • Premium User Badge

      Hodge says:

      From memory it wasn’t actually a pre-order, it was an opt-in closed beta thingy. Basically we just emailed him and asked to take part (which I’m guessing you could still do as it’s supposed to be an ongoing thing).

      I think he was still planning on releasing it for free when the beta started so we didn’t have to pay.

    • Tom Francis says:

      It’s not on sale yet! Hopefully you mean you’re one of my valued testers who got a test build for free with no obligation to buy?

      If you did pay for it, I would love to know to whom, because that is not a thing yet.

      • Premium User Badge

        El_MUERkO says:

        That’s exactly what I mean… your neighbour totally didn’t sell me a copy he stole from your computer while you were in the shower!

        /is badly in need of sleep

      • Phantoon says:

        TAKE MY MONEY, TOM FRANCIS!

        WHERE IS THE GIVE MONEY BUTTON!?

    • Belsameth says:

      *goes green with envy*

    • Premium User Badge

      Sinomatic says:

      I’ve had a chance to poke at it too and it really is rather lovely*

      And repeatedly biffing guards in the face as you fly through a window never gets old. I blame my future RSI squarely on your shoulders, Francis!

      *which is my reserved way of saying: throw all your moneys at it if/when you get the chance.

  2. Sarlix says:

    As soon as I saw that first screenshot it made me instantly think of Bonanza Bros. This does seem similar, only a lot more complex.

  3. Blackcompany says:

    Sounds exciting. I could very well come ungun over this game.

  4. DrGonzo says:

    Oh my god oh my god! It’s like a modern day Bonanza Bros, which is probably the most under appreciated game of all time. Excited!

    • Sarlix says:

      Ahem, see above^

      • DrGonzo says:

        Apologies good sir!

      • The Tupper says:

        If only Mr Sarlix were as fastidious in all his dealings.

        You, Sir have an appointment on the battlefield.

        TT

        • Sarlix says:

          @DrGonzo No need for apologies, good sir. I merely meant that I too have appreciation for it . And two appreciators out of (then) five comments is a fairly high level of appreciation. There may also have been lurking appreciators, we just don’t know. So I dare to suggest that your statement is somewhat erroneous.

          @Tupper Nay, Sir! There shall be no hostilities. War has been re-scheduled due to, err…technical difficulties. And has nothing to do with the fact that I have forgotten how to play to such an extreme level that a mildly intelligent carrot would have me bettered. Nope. It’s all due to technical difficulties.

          I shall dispatch a electronic briefing to your private mail box via the usual route. (This is not a euphemism) Please reply with confirmed dates.

          SHSSSS

          • The Tupper says:

            Mr Sarlix:

            I did indeed attempt to deliver a missive earlier this very evening, but my abundance was rebutted.

            As Mrs The Tupper was commenting only the other day: an unstuffed inbox/sent items folder signifies a clean mind.

            TT

          • Sarlix says:

            Mrs The Tupper is indeed wise beyond her years. She would do well to join the glories of the 3rd Reich, lest she be crushed under foot by my mighty Panzer tracks like General The Tupper McTupper is soon to be fated.

            Yours,

            Stabshauptmann Hackenberg Herr Sarlix SS Senior of Strasbourg

            SHHSSSSS

          • The Tupper says:

            Why you…fiend!

            Mrs The Tupper caught a glimpse of your message and, no doubt in fevered imaginings of your leather-clad Hunnish advances, has succumbed to a fit of dropsy!

            I shall have satisfaction, Sir!

            Yours,

            Rear Admiral (ret.) Godfrey Smallholding Le-Tupper

            PS: Messages to your inbox are still performing a Barnes Wallis.

  5. Gnoupi says:

    “And the game notices if that’s what you do, leaving you feel a bit embarassed.”

    Leaving me laughing out loud when it happened, for sure :P I mean, how can you not beat him repeatidly? The “bif bif bif” sound is so satisfying!

    • sinister agent says:

      The perfectly timed pause and merry slapping of the first guard in the first video I saw of this game is the exact moment that I knew I wanted to play it.

  6. dsch says:

    I love the whack guard with door mechanic.

  7. Shazbut says:

    Always liked Mr Francis’ reviews but wasn’t expecting this to be as good as it seems to be. Many congrats if you are reading this, sir. Also, you should ask for money, but speaking for myself I wouldn’t buy it without a demo unless feedback on the finished product was extraordinary. But then I don’t buy many games.

  8. Redd says:

    The elephant in the room belongs to Yahtzee.

    • MadZab says:

      I agree. Why exactly isn’t there an uproar?

      And what happened to the journalistic integrity of this site that nobody seems to be pointing it out?

      Am I missing something here?

      And…

      • Premium User Badge

        Ninja Dodo says:

        Um… similarity superficial? I haven’t played Gunpoint, but I have played Art of Theft and while the perspective and overall vibe are similar, judging by the gameplay videos that have been released so far they have very different mechanics.

        (I love Art of Theft by the way… and I suspect I will enjoy this as well)

  9. Maldomel says:

    This will be an instant buy when it’s out. What’s with those game journalists making good games these days?

    • Premium User Badge

      Shockeh says:

      Logically, it’s because they get to see so many examples of what not to do, they eventually build up a natural resistance. It’s like the white blood cells in your immune system, only it works against against waist high walls, DLC content that was the core game and ‘completely unexpected’ plot ‘twists’.

  10. kwyjibo says:

    Looks very cool.

    Do not make this game free. Charge money for it, it looks like it’ll be worth it, and I much prefer that you continue on making cool stuff like this. You might even make more money with Free2Play, but I really don’t want to have to buy levels and items.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      You do know you could, oh, perhaps, voluntarily give money!?
      And if he want to voluntarily give the game?

      It’s all good in my opinion. He will get paid I’m sure.

    • Phantoon says:

      Yes. It will be a brand new type of Free2Play, in which you pay up front once and recieve all the levels and items.

      oh wait

  11. CaLe says:

    What is he going to do with all this information he is collecting?

  12. PAK-9 says:

    High quality defenestration simulation

  13. LionsPhil says:

    He could always go for donationware or pay-what-you-want?

    Probably out of the luck on the Linux front, though, short of completely re-implementing the thing. GameMaker is proprietary and doesn’t seem to have any support for the platform.

  14. Mr Wonderstuff says:

    Another indie game in retro clothing. Um…getting a little repetitive methinks.

    • LionsPhil says:

      You have to put the video up to 720p to see all the pixels.

      You’re talking bollocks, matey.

      • Mr Wonderstuff says:

        Um no. Not really. Ive been playing games since 1983 and whilst I applaud indie developers for their general creativity, pushing boundaries etc I am getting a little bored of seeing the same 8-bit/low fi design philosophy which many adopt – just feels a little me-too. Clearly I’ll be in the minority here but that’s what I feel.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Apparently you’ve completely forgotten what games looked like in 1983. The 16-bit era would be envious of these graphics. At a push, there’s some similarity of clean 2D design to, say, Transport Tycoon, if Transport Tycoon ran at XGA resolutions and wasn’t limited to a 256-colour pallette.

          Stop whining that it doesn’t have bloom.

  15. JD Ogre says:

    Hmm. This reminds me very heavily of Impossible Mission

    • Premium User Badge

      Screwie says:

      That is the vibe I get from it. Which, since IM2 was one of my favourite games as a kid, is no bad thing at all really.

      Seriously looking forward to giving Mr Francis my money.

  16. Tobe says:

    AMAZING.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    I would happily pay for this sort of thing I reckon.

  18. Dreforian says:

    Every time I see Gunpoint I think Flashback. Also, stealth game? count me in! Flashback + Deus Ex + Door-jitsu is a definite sell.

  19. Melf_Himself says:

    I wouldn’t usually watch such a long video for some random game I’d never heard of, but this looks fricking awesome.

  20. Esti2 says:

    N, Deus Ex, Hitman, Splinter Cell.

    Im gonna love this.

  21. Premium User Badge

    tomeoftom says:

    I will pay good money for this.

  22. RegisteredUser says:

    Looks like that C64 game.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VycDeqZ8EZI

    Maybe a smidge of Bionic Commando / Stryder.

  23. Easy says:

    THIS. The Defenestrator. Brilliant. Definitely worth a few quids. And the author really put Gamemaker through its paces.

  24. Ureshi says:

    i’m throwing my money at the screen but nothing’s happening!!

  25. celozzip says:

    hmm, the ‘sense of humour’ in this game and the commentary in the video are actually putting me off this game. most nerd humour sucks so hard, like a spock joke at the end of a trek episode. the rest of it looks good though.

  26. Bob says:

    It’s good to see something different. I’d probably enjoy it, although my inventiveness only goes so far.

  27. Incredulous Dylan says:

    Excellent review for what looks like the potential for a very cool game. The disclaimer reads as very sincere and the straight forward and pleasant explanation by the developer sealed my opinion. If this comes out I would pay for it.

  28. icke says:

    Reminds me of “Persian Gulf Inferno”.