Thirty Flights of Loving takes 30 minutes to finish, I’ve played it more times than I can remember, and I still learn something new every time I sit down to it.
Its non-linear storytelling offers itself to be picked apart and analysed down to excruciating detail, and for a while I certainly did. But then through one playthrough, I came to the credits, and I walked through an art gallery with installations depicting the events of the game while wine-sipping yuppies murmured amongst themselves pensively, and I realised that they were me. I was a wine-sipping yuppie inspecting every object obsessively, desperate to find meaning in a game that was perfectly happy keeping me in the dark.
Thirty Flights of Loving isn’t about anything. Sure, you can piece together some form of narrative, and semiotics have taught you to recognise there’s some form of strained relationship between its three protagonists, only one of which you play as. But all that it means is the feeling that it gives you. I’ve never played a game that portrays what it feels like to be significantly, stupidly drunk as well as this, and rarely have I played a game that has made me feel quite so in love (me, not a character I was following or playing as). I repeat, Thirty Flights of Loving takes 30 minutes to finish.
It’s an experience that is informed by all of the stage plays and books and albums and radio plays and films and television that came before it, but it couldn’t possibly exist in any of them. It’s a step forward for what games are capable of.