You can watch my walk-through and interpretation of Thirty Flights of Loving above (please excuse my nervousness and soft voice- I will add subtitles shortly).
The newly popped up genre of gaming called indie can be perfectly illustrated with the game Thirty Flights of Loving. Developed by Brendon Chung and his small team, the story’s narrative takes us through nonsequential events revolving around a trio and their failed heist. A police chase, two vehicular accidents and a lover holding the protagonist at gun point in betrayal all take place in this dystopian world. Told in a first person shooter game, the stage and subtle hints are what unfold this powerful and irresistible story in under 15 minutes.
Although short, it takes more than one play-through to get through the scraps of events shuffled around like a deck of cards with smash cuts to ineffectively buffer the scenes. With the insipid graphics, a lack of that game feel where you get to make your own decisions, and unexplained and seemingly arbitrary scenes like the unauthorized rooftop wedding, I can understand why some people may have found Thirty Flights of Loving under developed. Instead of the exciting action usually encountered in first person shooter games, we’re invited to observe and walk-through a narrative of ostensibly disparate events. Players (or the audience if you refuse to think of TFOL as a game) need to struggle and reason their way through the game in order to link the events in a chronological order, and most games don’t invite their audience to rationalize their way through their story.
Without any complicated graphics, Brendon was able to get across the story through cinematic editing and visual cues. Blurred scenes representing intoxication and unreliable narratives, pink-hued scenes portraying romantic bliss before a tragic consequence, and beds tinged in a sickly green color suggesting the infidelity that occurred there, all help clue in that there is more behind the failed heist than just a simple betrayal. The original music, composed and performed by Chris Remo, carries the narrative forward by setting the pace and mood, and lets the game sweep us out of control without getting too chaotic.
The telling of the story and the way details were intricated throughout such a short game, caught my attention so much that I found my self logging over two hours playing this game. Noticing the fine details and catching references sprinkled throughout charmed me so that I enjoyed getting to the story more than actually understanding the plot.