“Gunpoint” Has One of the Best Stories of the Year…But Not the One You May Think

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There is a story in the new indie game “Gunpoint,” but even though it’s nicely presented, and the dialogue is pretty good, I’m not sure I could relay it to you in any interesting or captivating way. Initially I found this disheartening, but considering one of the key features of the game on Steam is “all story stuff is skippable,” I don’t think the developer intended that to be the focus.

Instead the focus would have to be the perfectly executed gameplay that sees you play a freelance spy who takes missions to infiltrate various institutions, and often eliminate those in his path. Thanks to some handy gadgets that allow you to rework the wiring of a building though, even the most impenetrable fortress quickly becomes your personal playground should you be able to figure out the mini-puzzles of what items, should perform what functions, at what time, to put you in prime position to take out your foes and secure your objective.

It’s such a brilliant and novel idea, that mixes well with a more visceral and violent element reminiscent of “Hotline Miami” which allows you to tackle guards out of high story breakable windows, or just beating them to a pulp, and provides one of the more complete gameplay experiences in recent memory, as it caters to every intelligent need, and primal desire, the average gamer looks for. The possibility of this type of game was suggested by titles like “Lemmings,” “Oddworld,” or even good old “Mouse Trap,” but never, ever pulled off to this degree of success.

What I’m saying is play it. Play it now, tell your friends, and thank me later should you ever be able to pull yourself away.

But more to the point, as gleaming as the gameplay of “Gunpoint” is, it does have a story that matters. It’s just that, in this case, it’s not the one you get in the game.

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Instead the story that matters concerns the game’s developer Tom Francis and his shocking revelation that “Gunpoint” took only $30 to create (an amount recouped about a minute after the game went on sale) and, as pointed out by some pretty hilarious graphs, is so successful that Tom can now live his dream, and quit his day job to develop games full time.

More than that though, he says that he can do so with virtually unlimited creative freedom, and on his own timetable. Interestingly, he also contributes most of this success to the pre-release demo of the game which some insisted would hurt him financially, but instead gave “Gunpoint” recognition in places it would have never reached before. Tom insists he will always release a free demo beforehand from now on and, in case any major developers are listening, notes that its simply just the way he wants to treat people.

Due to the sheer quality of the final product, “Gunpoint” would have to be considered a success even if it wasn’t one of the most profitable games of all time. Because of those extra elements to this story though, “Gunpoint” is also successful on a human level as it’s a tale of of how far the right man, with the right attitude, and the right idea can go, not to mention the unlimited creative potential this still very young artform known as gaming possesses.

It’s a shame then that amongst the twenty-four hour gaming newscycle that so often includes negative press, dry industry press releases, and the “same old, same old,” that this story of the power and potential of an individual creator may be lost, if it even gets a chance at all.

Luckily though, even if the story is forgotten, “Gunpoint” itself is unforgettable and will always somehow stand as the manifestation of those greater ideas

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