The lights are on
Upon learning that Gunpoint is a side-scrolling noir puzzle title, I was a little skeptical. I didn't want the noir to be too campy, and I hoped the puzzles would be interesting enough to hold my interest – and I'm not a big puzzle gamer. Thankfully, Gunpoint is an engrossing enough game that I think it deserves to be in the conversation of our Top 50 Games of 2013.
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Thankfully, Gunpoint doesn't have to solely rely on any one of its elements. Instead, its constituent parts work well by themselves as well as in unison. The puzzles accommodate multiple solutions, and are supported by a series of skill upgrades and equipment that can be helpful – but aren't mandatory. In fact, once I figured out that I didn't have to own any particular equipment other than the Crosslink to solve a given level (except in one case), it freed up my thinking and allowed me to experiment in solving the game's puzzles. Similarly, getting violent with guards isn't always the best route.
The Crosslink device lets you hack buildings' circuitry to open doors, turn off alarms, and influence guards' behavior. Gunpoint's graphic style is slick; unobtrusive in letting you solve levels.
Gunpoint's noir setting is well done, and due to the game's dialogue choices, lets you play it as straight or hard boiled as you like. Your conversation choices even influence events in the game. Overall, the sharpness of the dialogue, jazz music, and use of noir touchstones made the use of the genre more of a big bonus rather than a hindrance.
My VoteI think Gunpoint is a game worthy of being in the Top 50. Whether it actually lands a coveted spot or not will depend, however, on some of the other games it goes up against. In general, I think puzzle games can be limited in scope, and while Gunpoint can ultimately be guilty of this, it deserves praise for adhering to a tight logic construction without being excessively controlling, as well as for containing an upgrade/equipment system that it's not excessively beholden to. Regardless whether it ultimately makes the list, I think it's worthy of your time.
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