I had heard lots about Thirty Flights of Loving: about how it revolutionises the way we play games, about how it blurs the line between cinema and gameplay.
So last week when my house was being pelted with snow and my university declared an official snow day (Yay!), it was the perfect opportunity to give it a try. And while I don’t think Thirty Flights of Loving is in any way revolutionary, it is certainly special.
The best thing about TFoL is that it is able to convey so much information in such a small amount of time. The player is assaulted with snappy cutaways and the environment is littered with details about the cute little world Blendo Games has created. Part of the charm is that most of the story is left up to the player, with certain key plot events being deliberately vague. When it finished, I ended up spending more time thinking about the story and how it all connected then I had actually playing the game and, even though TFoL is incredibly short, that has to be something.
…You can pick up guns, ammo, alcohol and even oranges…
If you think I’m being suspiciously quiet about what exactly TFoL is, it’s because there’s not much to tell without ruining the story. TFoL is an adventure game at heart, but with a very limited player input. The player presses the ‘WASD’ keys to move and interacts with the environment by pressing the ‘E’ key. That’s it. You can pick up guns, ammo, alcohol and even oranges, but there’s no inventory and they are never used beyond the place they are picked up. TFoL is more of an interactive movie then it is a game, usually only requiring the player walk forwards and press the ‘E’ key.
My main complaint with TFoL is how short it is. One could argue that having a shorter experience means that the game never becomes boring and it leaves you wanting more. But in a world where 69p on the app store can give you access to hours of fun, paying £4 for something that took me less then 10 minutes to complete feels like extortion. TFoL tries very hard to get you to like it, and for the most part it succeeds, but every-time I complete the game I get the nagging feeling of: ‘What did just I pay for?’. It also didn’t help matters when the game encountered numerous technical hiccups, lags and at one point a full-blown crash.
…art, music and story are incredibly refreshing…
Regardless, you can’t help but like TFoL. It’s art, music and story are incredibly refreshing in a brown military-shooter saturated marketplace. The love put into this game is undeniable: from the huge number of Easter Eggs dotted around the environment to the fascinating developer commentary, TFoL just wants to be your friend and show you something new.
The games industry is a very unconfident environment at the moment. Most games just want to fit it, saying “I also have cover-based shooting!” or “I also do Quick-Time-Events” as if it were “I also smoke cigarettes behind the bike shed!” But Thirty Flights of Loving does what games rarely do these days; it is just comfortable being who it is.