short games

Thirty Flights of Loving, Portal, and a celebration of short-form video games by Alec Kubas-Meyer

In the time it took me to come up with this first sentence, I could have played through Blendo Games’s Thirty Flights of Loving twice. Thirty Flights of Loving is the sequel to 2008’s Gravity Bone, a freely available game that I played more than a few times back in the day, and it shares a lot in common with that game (a copy of which is included in Thirty Flights’s executable). But fascinatingly, it feels like a step back while also being a giant leap forward. Whereas Gravity Bone had items and a basic inventory kit that served some minor little puzzles, Thirty Flights of Loving has WASD and a “Use” key. It’s shockingly simplistic, but it has aspirations of grandeur. 

The game’s trailer bills itself as a “video game short story,” and that’s a brilliant way to describe it. It’s a jam-packed fifteen minutes, full of intrigue, chaos, and directed narrative. But what’s most interesting is how little of the greater narrative there is: In those fifteen minutes, a whole lot of things happen, and you the player are privy to almost none of them. The story is told without words or voices; it’s just a series of not-clearly-related events and it’s up to you to figure out what they all mean. You’re in a place. Now you’re getting into a plane. Now someone you thought was on your side is pointing a gun at your head. There’s blood everywhere.

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