This review will be a double-feature, taking a look at both Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of Loving, since Gravity Bone is included in the package. Keep in mind, however, that Gravity Bone was released as freeware, and while I do not recommend Thirty Flights of Loving at all, Gravity Bone is something that I recommend highly.
Gravity Bone is neat for a number of reasons. Despite being low-tech, the art style is quite striking, and it is used to great effect in a couple of set-pieces within the game. In fact, it is one of the few things that is retained in its sequel, Thirty Flights of Loving. Gravity Bone itself is quite short however, involving only a couple of missions with various objectives. All of this is done in the first-person perspective, but the game is not what you would call a first-person shooter. Now, I do wish that there was more to the game, as the missions themselves play out nicely, and they work as an excellent demonstration on how to engage the player without having them shoot at things constantly, which is often the case in the first-person games that it resembles. And the game comes together wonderfully at the end, with a fast-paced end sequence, and an ending that is on the good side of eccentric and confusing, which wraps up the tale very well. All taking place with full input of the player, save for the end sequence. But here this brief absence of control is justified perfectly within the contextual landscape the game has painted.
So while Gravity Bone is a demonstration of where first-person games could take us, Thirty Flights of Loving instead presents us with a few brief minutes of scarcely interactive slideshow, composed of random elements devoid of context, all taking place along a non-linear timeline. It is a mess of a presentation, and one which is just plain confusing, and there ends up being nothing thought provoking at all in the experience. What it does have are some references to Gravity Bone, but those come off as disconnected and pointless, as well as other similarly ineffective references to other things which have no bearing to what you are doing. However, there are some hidden environmental details that are revealed if you pay attention, but they have no real bearing within Loving's framework, given how non-interactive the experience is.
Now, I would not normally be so harsh on a sequel for being different. However in this case, not only is it different, those new features only detract from the experience. All that Thiry Flights of Loving manages to be, is a slideshow of variously surreal and not-so-surreal scenes cobbled together, and which do not actually require the player to be present in the slightest, and the entire game is over in under ten minutes. Where Gravity Bone was an engaging and impressive demonstration of how you could tell a story in the first-person, Thirty Flights of Loving is just an incomplete set of narrative fragments which are left to the played to struggle to reconstruct. Even then, without any real input from the player, one must wonder what motivation the player is meant to have to attempt this, when the fragments are so far-flung, and the reward for collecting them so unsatisfying.
As far as picking up this game goes, you could say that you picked it up in order to give some recognition to Gravity Bone. But by itself, there really is no reason whatsoever to play Thirty Flights of Loving.
Posted: November 25th, 2013