Thirty Flights of Loving is a wild, compact ride. It’s a game full of guns, none of which you will shoot. In twenty minutes of dizzying action and without a single line of dialogue, creator Brendon Chung (a.k.a. Blendo Games) manages to tell an engrossing story that makes recent AAA titles read like something the Young Adult section of the bookstore puked up.
Unlike its predecessor Gravity Bone (which you needn’t play first, although it’s conveniently bundled with the download), Thirty Flights moves along at a breakneck pace, using short flashbacks to unfold the layers of a heist gone horribly wrong. It’s an old premise, but you’ve never seen it done like this—its rapid cuts, striking visual style and fantastic retro-spy sound design by Idle Thumbs tie it together, creating a very real sense of panic and urgency in a world that feels simultaneously familiar and foreign. You almost forget that all the characters have square heads.
Indie games get a reputation for being pretentious, but this stripped-down first-person short story is anything but. There are dozens of things to discover; small details make Thirty Flights stand out, and they come to life in the irresistible Developer’s Commentary, which is equal parts memoir and design lesson; it makes the game well worth its $5 purchase price despite its short length.