Thirty Flights of Loving Review
Stories in video games are rarely good. They may be adequate, or entertaining, but rarely are they groundbreaking narratives that demonstrate the strengths of the medium nor do they often pose the opportunity to discuss multiple interpretations or an analysis on the genre itself. Video games are entertainment, after all, and rarely by presenting bombastic situations and gruff characters do they end up becoming bestsellers.
That’s not to say the genre isn’t capable of achieving this. There are games in which the characters and narratives come close to using the strengths of their medium to tell a story unique from any other genre, but still fall back on techniques such as cutscenes to ultimately tell the bulk of information. Interactive or not, they still borrow heavily from film and feel more like an interactive movie rather than a true video game story.
Thirty Flights of Loving uses the strength of video games and the willingness to put the trust into the player to tell a brief, surprisingly warm and compelling tale rarely seen in games.
Thirty Flights succeeds by keeping dialog and blatant explanations of the story nearly nonexistent. The player pieces together the world, the plot, the characters and how they tie into all of it along the way. Despite being labeled a first-person shooter, much of the gameplay comes from trying to piece together the narrative and give your own interpretations of the events that unfold.
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I wish I could say more about the story and the characters, the retro sci fi/spy fantasy world they inhabit, and the absolutely brilliant commentary track on the game after completing it, but to mention even an iota of information would devalue the experience. My best advice is to go in blind and then make your own opinion on the story.
The major flaw of this title -- though I don't see it as such, undoubtedly other people will -- is the game's length. Thirty Flights of Loving can be completed in less than 10 minutes. A second playthrough will take you even less time and even going back for the commentary, it should take you about a half an hour to complete everything. Even the included first title in the series, Gravity Bone, will take less than 20 minutes to complete.
If you’re looking at this game from a viewpoint of length per dollar, you’re looking at it the wrong way. But if you want a glimpse at how a game can use its mechanics to tell a story, look no further. It’s a game that shows true genius in its presentation and offers a tantalizing look at where games will be heading next.