In the universe of Gunpoint, firearms are banned. It's a creative choice that's downright bold for any piece of pop culture in 2013, but especially the trigger-happy world of gaming. But Gunpoint shows that compelling action sequences can consist of little more than plotting, creeping and puzzle-solving.
The capers here are carried out via clever hacking and the rerouting of wires. This tightly constructed game is centered on the player-puppeteered Richard Conway, a spy-for-hire who's a stickler for grammar and has a penchant for sarcasm.
Conway is drawn into a corporate rivalry between gun manufacturers, companies that are lying and stealing from each other to create a weapon that can exploit a loophole in the nation's gun ban. Lobbyists we never see do the dirty work of reversing the firearm prohibition behind closed doors (aka off-screen).
Though Gunpoint doesn't take a clear stance on the polarizing question of gun control, there's no denying how it feels about guns in games: They're overused and too often provide players an easy way out.
Should Conway acquire a gun -- since banned, they are not cheap -- the nifty, highly stylized thriller essentially becomes pointless.
It's a dynamic that makes a statement: More guns do not make for a better game, and exploring a game world is often a more nuanced exercise when you take them away.
RATING Not applicable
PLOT Spying and lying
DETAILS PC, $9.99
BOTTOM LINE Espionage with a twist -- brains instead of bullets