I’ve been playing Plus Gun, a Unity-powered indie shooter that’s half about clicking things to death and half about economics. In it, points are earned by burning up the resources you’ve gathered, resources that would otherwise be spent on bigger and nicer guns. That’s probably a metaphor for all spending, right? Plus Gun shines a stifling spotlight on my own inability to save money, or see more than a few minutes into my own future. This game isn’t for anybody who doesn’t want to be reminded that they don’t have a pension.
Games of Plus Gun are short and frantic, pitching you into a battle against an unending stream of charmingly lo-fi enemies. The aim is to achieve a high score through a careful balance of upgrading and cashing in resources. Waves of enemies drop three kinds of resources which can be traded for shotguns, bonus health, rocket launchers and rail guns of varying degrees of quality. Actually murdering the crowds of polygonal foes doesn’t earn you a solitary point however, so it’s only by switching to your non-lethal Point Gun and converting resources into useless points that you can earn a score.
Points earn interest at the beginning of each wave too, so there’s an incentive to bank resources for points earlier in the game. Of course, in doing that you become less equipped to face the increasing numbers of enemies who spawn faster than they can be destroyed.
Plus Gun is an experimental FPS chin-stroker: resources are rendered useless as soon as they’re points, becoming simply an arbitrary metric by which to measure success. Surely it’s more fun to spend resources on rocket launchers and enjoying the immediate satisfaction of an exploding crowds of baddies, rather than the self-satisfaction of saving up points? I think so. Using the Point Gun feels like a boring, bleakly responsible and adult thing to do. Like opening an ISA or doing your laundry.
Even when approached as a plain horde-mode shooter, it’s still a tremendously challenging game. Dipping into the buy menu doesn’t pause the game, where it feels like it should, and the bigger guns don’t seem beneficial enough right now. But that’s all balancing, which is on creator Kevin Cancienne’s to do list.
Try it out: the early alpha version of Plus Gunavailable to download here. It’s interesting stuff, if only to see whether your brain, like mine,immediately rejects the miserly Points Gun in favour of the shooty bang bangs.