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Queer Characters: Gun Mute

Text-based, guns, gay cowboys. It works.

The realm of Interactive Fiction is one I'm still exploring, and am always glad to have recommendations (and now that I'm temporarily distanced from most of my gaming machines, makes sense to play on my netbook). Over the weekend I was recommended Gun Mute for a very specific reason: you play Mute Lawton (an amusing poke at the nature of cowboys as we perceive them) who must save his male love interest, the latter point seeming almost incidental. Released in 2008, I have seen it bandied about in our own comments section previously, but had yet to ever try it.

The game itself is fairly straightforward, as you can move forward or backward, and that's it for changing scenery. Beyond such, you interact with your environments and the people around. It's meant as a Western, and this means there will be shootouts, there is ammunition (endless, but you do have to reload), and there is a cover system. The way the fights play out is much more dependent on figuring out puzzles; as the setting is both a bit post-apocalyptic and steam punk, you are fighting mutants, robots, and various mixtures that mean shooting at a plain body and expecting a fall won't amount to much.

Overall, the game is quite well-written, and the way it characterizes its duels and challenges seems quite apt to the setting. There is a certain attention to detail given that makes it easy to see why it was nominated for a number of XYZZY awards, winning Best Puzzle, but also being nominated for: Best Game, Writing, Story, Setting, NPCs, Individual Puzzle, Individual NPC, Individual PC, and Use of Medium. That is, it comes highly recommended not just on the gay content therein.

Spoilers ahead.

Then there's the goal. You, the player, don't really know why Lawton's lover, Elias, is set up for execution. Your goal is merely to save him. There isn't much characterization through speech between you two, seeing as you are incapable of speech, but that just means the focus is on expressing your love in other ways. You can kiss him to wake him and nod in agreement to his suggestion to toast to love.

The story simply treats the relationship as one that exists, and at no point does anyone disparage the relationship, rather they simply wish you gone. Since there are no further exclamations commenting on it, I wondered if perhaps the simple fact of your relationship was enough to offer the reason behind the noose on Elias's neck. As it stands, the world was not built to give me a sense that it was a hostile environment to same-sex couples. While it wasn't confirmed, I also read a bit of flirting and relationship camaraderie between the undertaker Gertrude and one of your opponents you don't kill, Fiona.

In fact, there is little given to Lawton himself. Checking your inventory, you realize the only item you're carrying is your gun. The game also seems to point out that you're wearing a pear of jeans, a gun belt, and doesn't mention much else as it continues on to tell you how the wind feels on your skin. Shirtless cowboy going through a town on the hunt for his boyfriend? In terms of being either 'proper' or 'safe,' the images it does paint seem to be far from it, though it never veers into sheer sex.

In total, Gun Mute can easily take around half an hour, give or take, and the puzzles weren't too difficult to figure out, especially as the game has an in-game hint system. The Gun Mute page has the tools you'll need to run it on the right side of the page linked, so you should have few problems with such.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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