Review: Thirty Flights of Loving
My first attempt at playing Thirty Flights of Loving ended in a crash just a few minutes in. I gave it another go, powered through the included prequel Gravity Bone in about 20 minutes, and finished Thirty Flights proper in another 15. I went to bed and spent the next hour laying awake, thinking about it. If that sounds like a good time to you, by all means pick it up right now. If you’re skeptical, read on.
TFoL is a very short narrative game about three people engaged in some less than legal dealings. The story is presented from first-person in a heavily stylized world that evokes the colorful spy thrillers of the late 60s and early 70s. There’s little to do besides walk and trigger events, and the non-linear presentation of the tale makes it hard to follow exactly where you are and what is going on. It’s an intense and confusing journey that’s going to take more than a little digging on your part to make any sense of.
This is actually a pretty sharp contrast to Gravity Bone, which is a surreal vignette of the life of a spy. There’s more interaction and actual gameplay there, with some exploration to do and simple inventory to use to accomplish your missions. A bizarre sense of humor that strays almost into Jazzpunk territory helps prop it up, and then it all ends quite suddenly, game and humor alike. I’m glad it’s included with TFoL because it helps flesh out the strange world and its symbolism a bit, and finding the links between them is certainly interesting.
What you’re getting is a heavily-stylized walking sim with loads of meaning behind the short, staccato scenes. The overall feel of the game is unsettled and almost dreamlike, inviting you to read into every part of the presentation. This isn’t something like a Tale of Tales game where it’s congratulating itself on how clever and meaningful it is, mind you. Every part of Thirty Flights of Loving simply is, it just exists to be experienced, and waits for you to divine the meaning for yourself. There is seriously not much game here, and it’s hard to really suggest a purchase, but I consider my time with it well-spent. I might even revisit it to puzzle out more meaning, or just experience the 30-minute fever dream again.
And if nothing else, Thirty Flights of Loving presents one of the best explanations of the Bernoulli Principle I have ever seen. I don’t think I’ve ever fully understood it until now, and I thank Blendo Games for that.