I'm Nathan Hardisty, an author, ex-editorial writer for Platformnation.com, ex-games writer at Screenjabber. I now write for a variety of sites on the internet while still updating both my DTOID blog and my regular blog, which can be found below.
I am currently writing for Flixist.com
Also I'm incredibly pretentious about video-games so beware. I might just hipsterblow your minds.
Oh, my, I'm back. Oh look at that. I'm not dead! After all my exams. I'm alive. Nice. Okay. See you all in three years!
Actually, let's talk about Gunpoint.
Okay so I wrote about Gunpoint around five of your Earth years ago. Mr. Handsome (Tom Francis) actually put up a nice little quote from my little write-up on to the actual Gunpoint site. See you can actually see 'Blogossus' on a goddamn game's site oh my god how cool etc. etc. oh my etc. etc. I'm going to print screen this etc. etc.
Okay. So that was, like, five Earth years ago or something. Not entirely exactly but, well, to be in the same column of the likes of RPS and Eurogamer is, like, pretty darn hot. But, well, let's actually get on with the actual 'game' thing.
I wrote that thing in light of an earlier build of Gunpoint that I played oh so long ago. I've pretty much played it, I believe, since the very earliest build. To see it evolve and change and shift and just become this thing that hit Top Sellers on Steam, got some perfect 9s and 10s within a few weeks of The Last of Us and, just to nail it, release with the best goddamn special edition in the history of goddamn special editions, it's all a bit, well, mental. Tom Francis has always been one of the greatest game writers but, with Gunpoint, he becomes one of the greatest game writers. Heh. See what I mean? On top of that he's a pretty slick programmer and he doesn't afraid of actually doing something interesting.
I realize that I haven't yet written about BioShock Infinite on, well, anywhere. I did tweet a little about it and yet after many weeks I still feel somewhat similar. After all of the meta-commentary analysis, narrative dissections and game design critiques, I still quite adore Infinite. It truly is a symphony of video-gamedom and, yet, I still feel a slight disconnect. It is still a game about shooting people in the face over and over again, even while it tackles broader issues and blasts narrative design of video-games out of the water. It's spectacular and yet I would call Gunpoint, in all of its three hour festivities, my game of the year thus far.
Why do I think this? Because what Gunpoint does is do what all great games do. Exceptional video-games, to me at least, are those which give you all of the tools and playthings in order for you to design an experience. There's been a lot of backlash against gamer journalist lingo like 'ludonarrative dissonance' and 'emergent gameplay', but the extravagant vernacular is no less spectacular in applying it to Gunpoint. Gunpoint literally has an achievement called 'Acknowledged Ludonarrative Dissonance', I've never been a fan of the whole 'achievements' thing but it's my favorite thing of that thing ever ever. So much so that I'd use the words 'thing' and 'ever' twice in order to express my liking of it.
Gunpoint doesn't really care about its narrative. That's not to say that it casts it aside, but it pretty much has a 'Skip to the interaction stuff' button in every conversation. The conversations themselves are downright hilarious and, I say this with scornful jealousy, stupidly well written. I did not skip a single conversation because of the absolute quality of the story, and yet the very notion of being able to skip any of them and just get to the gameplay is probably one of the greatest game design choices ever. I know that games have had 'skip cutscene' buttons for decades, and yet just being able to dive straight in, with zero context, and be still fully invested in every mission is absolutely remarkable.
The gameplay itself has you rewiring things. I can rewire a button to a door so that, if I time it right, it can smack them unconscious in the face. I can rewire elevators to squash people, I can rewire trap doors so that everybody falls down at once and I can rewire a camera so that it fires a guard's gun so that he shoots his best friend as soon as I just slide into its view. There are so many possibilities to play around with that you can create strings of stories that just 'emerge' out of the game. I haven't even gotten to the movement system yet.
You have super trousers. With a little click you can lunge at your foes and then punch them in the face. You can launch them out of windows, you can crawl on the ceiling and then dive on them like some horrible monster and you can even just goddamn dive around like goddamn Spider-Man except goddamn good. Gunpoint does a better job at making you feel like a badass more than any other game I've played this year. If empowerment fantasy is your thing, then Gunpoint has that. There's even moments, nay entire levels in which your punching and lunging doesn't work. You have to plan, dive and use your wits. You know, that thing in video-games usually reserved for press trigger to shoot? You gotta use that. There are levels in which you have to plan, jump around the officer complexes that are rigged with your entrappings, lure the guards and manipulate their movements to absolute satisfaction. Gunpoint makes you feel genuinely smart about your accomplishments and seems to encourage no-kills runthroughs and all kinds of awesome procedural gaming business. Heck, even holding a man at, TITLE MENTION, 'Gunpoint' is absolutely thrilling. The game actively encourages just holding that gun, but discourages the shooting of it. Games don't often make the very presence of a gun exciting or genuinely mood-changing, because they're about as abundant as, well, molecular bonds and shit. With Gunpoint, guns have so much meaning and that is just hot.
This is why Gunpoint is the best game I've played this year thus far. It lets me play it. I know that sounds cheap and Polygon-ish but, heh heh, I genuinely adore playing every single second of the game. I enjoy planning out my tactics, skulking about darkened corridors and then capitalizing on my own smart movements. Gunpoint has such systems that allow you to pretty much invent your own playstyle. There is also a gadget that allows you to kick doors into people's faces. For that reason alone it is just. Yes. Yes. Yes. It also has one of the coolest soundtracks of the year made by the likes of Ryan Ike, John Robert Matz and Francisco Cerda.
So I said that it was "Probably the most exciting piece of game design in a long, long time", apparently. I take that back. It is the most exciting piece of game design in a long, long time. Gunpoint, in honesty, does not trump Infinite in the whole 'narrative' department, but some of its funnies are honestly more worthwhile than entire stretches of Ken Levine's supposed magnum opus. Gunpoint, however, has the leg up on any video-game released this year so far in that it is purely player driven. It is an absolute delight to play and a wonderful reminder of why video-games are the greatest entertainment venture that this little blue planet has to offer.
10/10 editorz choic goty eward
+ gud game, dat soundtrack
+ funny game
+ you can kick people in the face with doors
+ you can kick people in the face with doors
- [obligatory negative point]
You can buy Gunpoint on Tom Francis' website, where he will get more monies. Or you can buy it on Steam for 'convenience' or whatever reasoning. Either way, it is cheap and incredible and buy the special+ editions because look at them goddamnit.