The Why of Indie Games: ‘Thirty Flights of Loving’ and ‘Gravity Bone’

Often, the modern video game is built on one cool idea which creates a new identity to an already worn path. Fez is one such game with one truly innovative mechanic that became somewhat its identity, using it to breathe life into a somewhat weary platformer genre. This is not an uncommon feat, as often games are made upon the genres with which we have become familiar, and expand upon them in some way. Rarer is the game which truly makes you question the lens through which you view video games. Thirty Flights of Loving and its prequel, Gravity Bone, from developer Blendo Games, successfully do so by reinventing videogame narrative and defying the perceived necessity of length in videogames.

Thirty Flights of Loving and Gravity Bone are the short stories of video games. They tell nonlinear narratives, which last somewhere in the realm of 8-15 minutes. The style is reminiscent of great heist movies akin to Ocean’s series , all the while completely disregarding any dialogue or UI. The whole 25 minutes of entertainment takes place in first person, with the player never knowing their character’s identity, but ascertaining details of the world around them all the while.

That is a near complete overview as there are not many other details you need to know before jumping into Thirty Flights of Loving and Gravity Bone. It essentially boils down to using ‘WASD’ to move and ‘Spacebar’ to jump, with ‘E’ being the action button. While the controls and mechanics are instantaneously graspable, the truly difficult aspect of the two games to grasp is the narrative. There are immediate jumps from area to area and the games never truly allow the player to relax. What is impressive is that these moments allow the player to gain immediate understandings of the storyline that linear storytelling would never allow. I took more away from the ten minute story of Thirty Flights of Loving than I got out of thirty hours of Torchlight II. The stories of the two Blendo Games are so good, that it cannot but raise the question as to why other developers are sticking to an incredibly worn ground of storytelling.

Now, I would not dare say all other developers are guilty of such an offense. Many developers have woven great stories while saying very little or without much dialogue. While other developers are not specifically making their games to tell a story. I could, in fact, care less about Commander Video’s relationship with his mother in the Bit.Trip games. But those games telling the same revisited Tolkien inspired fantasy story are getting tired. The difference between them and our two games here is that the first time you open Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of Loving, you realize how condensed and focused a narrative can be, while remaining innovative and fresh. It does so in such a short period of time that it is in no way a hindrance to your day, nor something which distracts you from daily life. While some people desire the distraction, the games still invite the idea that games can be shorter.

I think with the development of the indie community and likewise with indie gaming we are seeing a movement towards shortened length in games. Many players can sit down and complete an indie game within a day’s time, but perhaps there is also room for these short story games to exist. Games which present themselves in less than ten minutes and can be ingested between classes or during lunch can be prevalent in modern society. When I dabble in literature, I tend to prefer short stories and I am finding now that I too prefer shorter video games, as many of them offer me as much joy in four hours as some games do in thirty.

I suppose what I am saying is that Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of Loving changed my perspective of what a videogame narrative must contain. As I get older, I less enjoy attack-spamming crowds of enemies the entirety of a game, and crave more substance in my small period of time I can spend gaming each week. That is what truly innovative games do though; they tend to shine a light on the flaws of your past lovers.

Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of Loving are both available on Blendo Games’ Official Website, as well as on Steam for $5. I, for one, think it is fully worth the price of admission. For “The Why” and all your other indie gaming needs, stick right here at

IndieGameMag - IGM