Thirty Flights of Loving is an indie art game which I found short, obtuse and largely uninteresting.
Speaking as someone who loved Dear Esther, and even Thirty Flights' developer's previous game ('Gravity Bone', which is included here as a free extra), I found myself thoroughly bewildered by Thirty Flights of Loving.
I was bewildered by the sloppy non-linear storytelling. The game hops, skips, and leaps, with all the grace of a big rig in a tutu. I've played through the whole game and read several summaries to make sure I wasn't missing anything, but even once I made sense of the story being told (a by-the-books tale of a criminal caper gone wrong), it didn't connect with me at all.
I was bewildered by the lack of flow within the gameplay. For such a short game, I was astonished to find myself stuck on at least two occasions. Normally I'd be the last person to call for such handholding tactics as blatant signposting or railroading of the player, but in this case the current state is completely at odds with the intended purpose. The developer obviously wants to tell a story, but I found it a trial just to get to the next part. This is not to mention the pointless interactions in the game which sometimes seem to serve no purpose whatsoever.
I was bewildered by the end. It came out of nowhere, and left me with the strongest feeling of 'is that it?' I think I've ever encountered with a game. I spent more time in the options menu than I did with the game itself. I wouldn't mind if it was some kind of masterpiece of storytelling, but it just wasn't.
Most of all, I was and am bewildered by the praise this game has garnered. 88% (at the time of writing) on Metacritic. Critical acclaim. Fans on the forums defending it to the hilt. I saw similar reactions to Dear Esther (which, as I said earlier, I felt deserved every bit of its praise), but I genuinely cannot understand it in this case.
Maybe I'm missing something huge here, but Thirty Flights of Loving was not an enjoyable, enlightening, or otherwise entertaining experience for me. I respect any developer who attempts to tell stories through games, but this feels like one of the more unfinished, unfocused efforts that I have played. Not recommended.
Posted: December 21st, 2013