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Video Game / Gunpoint

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Gunpoint is "a game about rewiring things and punching people", as described by its creator, former PC games journalist Tom Francis.

Richard Conway, professional spy, hurls himself through his apartment window in a mishap with his new Bullfrog Projectile trousers. Watching from across the street is Selena Delgado, an employee for Rooke Firearms, who calls and offers him a job. Conway accepts, but is caught on camera on his way up to meet her; unfortunate, given that another agent murders Delgado shortly afterwards.

With footage placing him at the crime scene, Conway is certain to be arrested for the murder until Rooke, Selena's employer, calls Conway up. Rooke knows Conway didn't kill Selena, seeing as she was shot before the camera saw him, but she still has to hand the footage over to the police. However, if Conway were to erase all the backups...

So starts a winding tale of corporate espionage, intrigue, and a whole boatload of people getting punched in the face.

The game's featured tool is the Crosslink, a device which exploits Everything Is Online to let you rewire electrical systems in each level. Among other things, you can make light switches open doors, opening doors set off alarms, alarms toggle discharges from electrical outlets, and discharging electrical outlets summon the elevator to the floor with the noise-detector that will toggle the lightswitch.

On June 19, 2014, the built-in level editor was given the capability to upload levels to the Steam Workshop. In 2017, the creator released a Spiritual Successor called Heat Signature.

This game has examples of:

  • Action Commands: Happens during the last level if you did Rooke's mission beforehand. You can either fight off Hightower, who also uses a pair of Bullfrog trousers, by punching or shooting him. Shooting him causes the level's police response timer (60 seconds) to start. If you complete Mayfield's questline without incriminating yourself and then tell him the truth about what's going on, it's doubled to 120 seconds.
  • A Mother to her Men: Or women, in this case. Say what you will about how ruthless she can be, Melanie Rooke expresses concern and worry over the status of Delgado and Collins whenever they come up in conversation. The entire story essentially starts because she wants revenge against the person who killed Delgado. When Rooke later informs Conway that Collins killed herself, she is very obviously distraught over the whole deal.
  • Artifact Title: An unusual example for something that is not a sequel or a series. The title was chosen early in development, and the gameplay kind of wandered away from much indicative of it. The achievement for getting the Resolver and sticking up an enemy with it is "Title Finally Relevant" with this lampshade-laden description:
    "Help me justify my early, not entirely wise choice of game name by holding someone at gunpoint with the Resolver."
    • However, the game is about people in the gun industry essentially forcing people to play their espionage game and forcing each other into a stand-off so the name still fits in a more meta, narrative sense.
  • Badass Longcoat: Justified. Both Conway and Hightower own a special brand of coat that protects the wearer from glass shards and long falls. Having such protection is probably the reason Conway can recklessly attempt badass feats, and the reason Hightower doesn't hesitate in tackling Conway through the window of a seven story building.
  • Big Bad: Fritz Gessler.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: The Steam badges for collecting Gunpoint trading cards include "Ninja", "Ghost", and "Ninja Ghost".
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Conway is good enough at his job that the local police chief and both sides of a corporate espionage conflict are all competing for his help, but the majority of his dialogue options are... a little quirky. You can avert this, however, as most conversations have a straight-laced professional response.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: In one mission, Conway is asked to break into a suspect's apartment and search for clues. Little does the client know, the apartment belongs to Conway himself, leading (possibly) to this trope during his debriefing.
    Mayfield: Find anything?
    Conway: Nope, the place was clean. Only thing this guy's guilty of is great taste.
  • Ceiling Cling / Wall Crawl: Conway can scale up, over, and around any horizontal or vertical surface he jumps to.
  • Checkpoint: The game autosaves every five seconds, so dying to a failed attempt to push a guard out the window, can easily become a slap on the wrist.
  • Corrupt Cop: Subverted. While they're implied to exist in great numbers in the local police department, none actually appear in the story. You're hired by the chief of police to investigate what he believes is corruption, but every instance of evidence being altered or destroyed is simply due to laziness or stupidity rather than corruption.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Fritz Gessler, CEO of Intex. His rival Melanie Rooke is no stranger to corporate espionage either, though seems considerably less "corrupt" and brutal about it.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Most of Conway's abilities come from the special Bullfrog trousers he wears, and his Dropshot trenchcoat prevents him from being splattered all over the streets every time he falls several stories.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Conway can be unrepentantly glib no matter the circumstance, although almost everyone gets a chance to be witty.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Dying lets you continue the game from a quite frequent autosave feature. And the saves usually go back a few seconds prior to Conway's demise.
  • Destination Defenestration: The game starts with Conway falling out of a window. This is also one of the myriad ways of taking out guards, and one of the only ways of taking out enforcers. If you side with Rooke, Hightower does it to you in the final level.
  • Developer's Foresight: There's eight ways to beat the final confrontation. Even more notable, however, is holding the villain at gunpoint has Conway tell them to drop their gun, and if you have a kill record they do out of fear; do the same after a Pacifist Run, however, and your reward is that the villain pulls a "You Wouldn't Shoot Me" speech and then shoots you.
    • If you avoid being caught on camera in an earlier job, Mayfield will admit that the file was a dummy he planted there as a Secret Test of Character instead of fingering you for murdering Delago; if Conway then tells him the truth about what's been going on, Mayfield will tell Conway to tip him off before he goes to face off with the true culprit, doubling the police response timer on the last level.
  • Dialogue Tree: During introduction to a mission, Conway can either ask about some useful things, be a Deadpan Snarker, or act like a giant loon.
  • Disaster Dominoes: You can use the Crosslink and its associated upgrades to set things up so that (for example) all the lights go off, and the guard who goes to turn them back on instead shoots one of his co-workers and knocks out another.
  • The Dragon: Hightower can be one for Gessler if you side with Rooke.
  • Driven to Suicide: Poor, poor Katie Collins. She kills herself in her cell, and leaves behind a note saying she doesn't want to be a burden. Gessler expresses genuine surprise in a laptop message right after that there actually was a genuine suicide, considering he's engineered so many fake ones that he's practically forgotten that real suicides were actually a thing.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The Gatecrashers, which mean you can kick down doors and you can't afford until the final mission, which they're required for.
  • Elite Mooks: The Professionals can see in the dark and won't be intimidated by having a gun pointed at them (they'll just shoot you). They also appear to shoot faster than other guards, all of which works together to make them much more difficult to take out, especially without killing them. Thankfully, you can punch their lights out, unlike Enforcers.
    • Before the Professionals, you meet the Enforcers; heavily armored cops who are immune to door knock-outs and being pounced. However, they're still susceptible to falls, electric shocks, and getting shot.
  • Everything Is Online: Downplayed. Everything within the same building is on the same circuit, and controlled by software. The Crosslink is a program used to hack the circuit. This is downplayed, since there can be multiple circuits with different devices attached, requiring you to hack each circuit, and you have to be physically present at the circuit the first time you hack it before you can control it wirelessly.
  • Evil Counterpart: Hightower to Conway. Both are professionals with nice hats, Bullfrog trousers that allow them to leap great distances, and Dropshot longcoats that allow them to fall from skyscraper heights with no injury. To drive home their contrasting moralities, Hightower's gear is black and red, while Conway's is tan and cyan. You can downplay this trope, however, since Conway can be far more violent and psychotic than Hightower.
  • Film Noir: In spite of its sense of humor, a lot of tropes from the classic setting are played straight. We have a detective investigating a murder, trying to prove the innocence of a framed young woman, evading a corrupt or incompetent police force, and the main client is a fiery haired Femme Fatale.
  • Fission Mailed: In the last mission, if you sided with Rooke, you'll be tackled out of the top floor by Hightower, who will begin pummeling you to unconsciousness. The screen will slowly fade to black making it look like you're about to die. If you have the Resolver, you can shoot him, at the cost of adding a timer to the rest of the level, but if you persist in punching back, you'll be able to, at the last second, get the upper hand, push Hightower off of you, then pull him up into the air and use your jump trousers to viciously slam him into the ground.
  • Freelook Button: While not the straightest example of it, going into hacking mode, lets you scout the map and look for hackable electronics but also to scout the environment for any guards and see a guard's view-cone. Of course, Conway can't move while hacking.
  • Gambit Pile Up: The game's plot is essentially a slow motion trainwreck between three separate plots; Conway is the Spanner in the Works that ultimately decides who comes out on top.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: Both Rooke and Gessler are arms dealers prepared to see people dead to further their interests, though Rooke at least shows compassion to her employees, while Gessler has arranged so many "suicides" that he's forgotten that people actually do kill themselves. When it comes to choosing between jailing an innocent man or letting your client's killer escape in the final act of the game, Conway regards whatever the player chooses as the "the least shitty of two incredibly shitty sides".
    • If the player is particularly bloodthirsty, Conway himself can very easily kill vastly more people than anyone he's trying to take down over the course of the game. Naturally, there's a dialogue option during the secret blog post at the end of the game lampshading this.
  • Gunpoint Banter: Possible in the finale, if Conway opts to use the Resolver.
    Gessler: "Look at that, Shit Hat Conway packs a piece.
    Conway: For your own safety, do not insult the hat.
  • Hired to Hunt Himself: The Chief of Police hires Conway to investigate the destruction of evidence in connection with the Delago murder. At one point, Conway gets to search his own apartment for evidence to implicate himself with. Depending on your choices, Conway may or may not get a chance to explain himself, but if he does, he'll either respond that he found it fun or has issues, or that he paid well.
    • If, however, you are entirely honest with the Chief of Police, and don't try to hide any evidence from him (when you have no idea what the evidence is, and know that it could implicate you), he's genuinely impressed by your candor, and tells Conway to tip him off before going to take down whoever's really behind it, because they may be slow to respond and "might not solve that case." This doubles the police response timer on the final level if you fire the Resolver.
    • Katie Collins is basically asking you to do the same thing, as finding any evidence of her innocence necessarily implicates Conway. You can confess to her if you want. She stops talking to you immediately and ends up killing herself.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Conway is a possible inversion depending on player choices. One can choose to go with the responses that are true to the trope, but Conway overall seems to lean a little more toward the silly. He tends to display rather more snark than cynicism.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: In the epilogue, this is one of Conway's optional reactions to the events he's just been part of. Other options include "I need to get out of the city" and "I need 10cc of ketamine and a Columbo marathon".
  • Jump Physics: The game begins after Conway buys a pair of "Bullfrog" powered leap trousers. Much is made about using them to either evade enemies, or pounce on them with a Deadly Lunge.
  • Kill the Cutie: The friendliest and most naive character in the game is Katie Collins, who commits suicide in her cell after the combined shenanigans of Mark Jackson, Intex and Conway himself get her arrested for murder.
  • Laughably Evil: Fritz Gessler is a ruthless arms dealer, but is hilariously arrogant, swears like a sailor at Conway for taking a mission against Intex, and has arranged so many premeditated murders he's completely forgotten that suicides can really happen.
  • The Men in Black: The Professionals count as this - clad conspicuously in a suit and shades, with the added ability to outshoot the player as well as see in near-total darkness.
  • Metaphorgotten: Conway's hardboiled noir detective speech gets away from him:
    I don't get into trouble. Trouble, that one's not going anywhere.
  • Mirror Boss: The only two "boss" enemies both mirror some aspect of Conway's tactics.
    • Hightower, if the player sides with Rooke. His opening gambit is to pounce on you, knock you through a window and then punch you in the face - which is pretty-much the exact moveset Conway starts off with before he upgrades his tech. Slightly subverted in that, by this point in the game, Conway has precisely one combat advantage over Hightower: the ability to just shoot him.
    • Gessler, being an out-of-shape middle-aged man, has his door wired to a button in his office that he'll use to knock out Conway to counter getting a Gatecrashered door to the face, while also mirroring a method Conway can use to knock out guards (including Enforcers).
  • Multiple Endings: Of a sort. You can either support Melanie Rooke or her husband, Mark Jackson, who was being blackmailed by Intex. Both give you the means to take down Intex and Gessler, but if you support Jackson, the person who killed Selena Delgado will escape. On one hand, Jackson is somewhat innocent in this debacle and just wants to get away after his lover was murdered, but on the other hand, he was cheating on Rooke and stole her money, plus you won't get Hightower killed/arrested if you pick his side, so there's equally valid reasons to screw him over.
    • While it doesn't necessarily change the ending of the game, the police chief's investigations and the operation where you steal a prototype for Gessler can have multiple endings, depending on the dialogue trees and even depending on whether or not you went in front of certain cameras.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: After pouncing on someone, Conway has a chance to knock them out with a quick punch, before getting back up and continuing. Nothing stops him from staying on top of a guard and continuing to punch him... for however long he wants. The game tells you to stop since you only need to punch him once. Then it tells you that you don't have to keep doing it, since there's not an achievement for it or anything. Eventually it gives up and hands you an achievement... after you punch someone a hundred times. Lampshaded in the game's trailer.
  • Nonindicative Name: There's an achievement called "Title Finally Relevant" because generally speaking you don't hold people at gunpoint. The creator mocks himself in the description of the achievement for coming up with the title too soon.
  • No Peripheral Vision: Averted with the guards. As long as the lights are on, if you are in front of them, they will shoot you. If you are hanging from the ceiling, they will shoot you. If you turn off the lights and get too close, they will shoot you.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Conway can take a realistic amount of bullets before being incapacitated/killed, though fast movement will make guards less accurate. An optional upgrade increases the chance that bullets might miss him. This also applies to guards, as one punch is enough to incapacitate non-Enforcers and one Resolver bullet will kill any guard.
  • One-Word Title: Originally supposed to be much more about holding people at gunpoint, but it remains as a cool and somewhat relevant title.
  • "Open!" Says Me: A expensive purchasable ability lets Conway kick down doors like nothing. They can fly into other mooks to knock them down. Although you can't have enough money for it until the final mission: you can only earn a total of $13,600 in the game, and the Gatecrashers cost $8,000.
  • Pacifist Run: The game provides a number of ratings at the end of each level, including a "Violence" rating, which varies all the way from "Gentleman" (for which you aren't allowed to so much as touch a guard), to the standard "Non-lethal", all the way to "Psychopath" (for killing everyone on the level). Which of the two extremes are hardest to achieve depends on which level you're playing.
    • Also notable in that, provided the player doesn't kill anyone throughout the game, having a conversation at gunpoint with the villain results in them pulling a You Wouldn't Shoot Me and then shooting you first.
    • Failing to complete a pacifist run, however, brings up what the achievements call "Ludonarrative Dissonance".
    Conway: I, uh...think I killed more people than I avenged in this...
  • Point Build System:
    • As you get further in the game, you get more upgrade points to upgrade the Bullfrog trousers (increasing range or decreasing charge time), or increasing the battery's power.
    • The money you earn is most likely used to buy a few useful upgrades. Some upgrades are needed for certain missions, and these will often be non-refundable.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Early in the game, a girl calls you in to prove her innocence in the case, which you can't do since you got rid of all the proof. Double example, because Rooke calls you up later on and tells you she committed suicide because of it You have the option of telling her what you did (and there's an achievement for doing so, as well as an achievement for starting to do so, and then chickening out at the last minute). Either way, you'll never talk to her again for the rest of the game, but telling her the truth ends the conversation immediately.
  • Portmantitle: A fusion of "Gun" and "Point". Also a One-Word Title.
  • Purposely Overpowered: The Gatecrashers, costing a whopping $8000, are able to make short work of any normal door, in addition to knocking out the guards on the other side. By then, there's vault doors all over the place, but they make the New Game Plus more fun.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: While there's no hostage involved, Conway can try this at the finale. It only works if he's killed before, so his opponent knows he's willing to shoot.
  • Puzzle Boss: The finale, when Conway confronts Gessler, has eight different methods (all with achievements). Specifically, they are: pounce on him and knock him out; punch him to death; hold him up and make him surrender; shoot him; pounce onto him and out the window; knocking him out with his own door trap; render him defenseless by rewiring his gun; and kicking the door off the hinges and onto him.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Since the Bullfrog trousers let you leap several stories into the air, the Dropshot trenchcoat lets you survive the landing.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: The gun you are able to get in the game is limited to six bullets, and is called the Resolver.
  • Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: Using the crosslink to rewire levels to kill or knock out guards is a major feature of the game. The chain of devices you use to do this can be as simple or as complicated as you can imagine.
  • Self-Deprecation: Several of the achievements are Tom making fun of himself.
    I Am Better At This Than Tom Francis
    Complete a mission faster than I can.
    Title Finally Relevant
    Help justify my early, not entirely wise choice of game name by holding someone at gunpoint with the Resolver.
  • Shout-Out: One response follows:
    Gessler: I need someone serious. Are you?
    Conway: I am serious. And don't call me Shirley.
  • Side View: This game being a 2D platformer with stealth, it's a self-explanatory trope.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Gessler's first words to Conway are "Who the fuck are you?", and he only gets more vulgar from there.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Melanie Rooke, unsure of Conway's level of competence, informs him of the locations of his first missions by order of difficulty.
    Conway: Thank you for giving my personal crisis a difficulty curve.
  • Spanner in the Works: If not for Delago having gotten Conway involved, things would have played out VERY differently. His interference results in a Gambit Pile Up that sees Gessler either arrested or killed, and may result in Mark being framed.
  • Spiritual Successor: To The Art of Theft, which makes sense considering that Tom Francis once interviewed Yahtzee, meaning that inspiration could have been derived at some point.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Selena Delago. She is on screen for about two minutes before Hightower murders her, but her death triggers and drives the rest of the plot.
  • Tae Kwon Door: One possible way to knock people out is by having a door open in their face. There are even two achievements that involve this. One for causing it to a guard, and one for causing it to Conway.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Firing the Resolver gives you a countdown to complete the level. If the countdown runs out, a police sniper sets up on the level and will kill you instantly and without fail as soon as you step outside. If you fire the Resolver twice in the same level, the police sniper sets up immediately, meaning you can no longer complete the level, as you always have to go outside to get to the exit point.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: After completing Gessler: Acquisitions, you can tell him about Rooke's trace in the prototype he had you steal from her (she, in fact, encourages you to do so if you ask her). If you do, you'll get an extra $450 later on, but Rooke will call you after to tell you that the prototype you brought back had a bomb inside and blew up in one of her labs, killing three people: she did not expect Gessler to be so psychotic.
    • The standard (and in fact, expected by the designer) method to practice this is to jump on someone and punch the hell out of them. You only need to punch someone once to knock them out. Punching them ten times kills them by turning their face into a bloody mess. It is as sadistic and twisted as it sound. You also get an achievement for punching someone 100 times, which is basically begging you to stop.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Firing the Resolver once will net you a timer to exit the level before a police sniper gets into position to shoot you dead if you exit a building. It is a punishment since the game only lets you fire the Resolver at a person. Firing it twice will instantly spawn the police sniper.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Conway will pull this on himself if you've killed several guards or police at the end of the game, noting that "I may have killed more people than I actually avenged."
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?:
    • In the final confrontation, you have the option of taking out your opponent in a number of potentially complex ways. This is one of the easier ones, and the game gives you an achievement of the same name for doing so.
    • An additional example lies in the way the gun mechanics work. You can get a gun and point it at someone, and as long as you're pointing it at them, they're too scared to shoot you. You can use this to shove guards off of ledges. The black-suited "professionals" will shoot you anyway. It also provides a number of reasons for the player not to shoot, primarily that doing so causes a timer to count down to the arrival of a police sniper (who can shoot you dead instantly), but secondarily due to a hard limit on the number of bullets you have access to in the game (six, naturally).
    • Also, the timer for the police sniper varies on the size of the level. The bigger level the more time you have to escape before the police sniper arrives.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: The game's plot is essentially a match between three major power players - Rooke, her faithless husband Mark, and Fritz Gessler of Intex. Who comes out on top depends on Conway's choices.