30 Flights of Loving was a great proof-of-concept. I played Gravity Bone immediately beforehand, and I enjoyed the setting (a kitschy spy thriller) as well as the complete lack of expository cutscenes or text. 30 Flights was very similar: a great set-up, a great sense of how to tell the story, and an amusing thrill ride through and through. However, while the technique was impeccable, the actual story was pretty unremarkable. Like Gravity Bone, it was a quick tale about betrayal and love in the spy world.
The best moment in 30 Flights is definitely navigating through an airport. You’re lost, but you pick a direction and start going. There’s a sudden hard cut, and regardless of which direction you were going, you end up where you needed to be. Normally, most games will either: 1) punt you into a cutscene where the correct path is chosen for you, or 2) make you walk the entire length of the corridor to reach your destination.
A hard cut shaves off that obnoxious empty walking time, and avoids the helplessness of watching a cutscene. It’s a great showcase of how to tell a story, and that’s awesome and badly needed, but (“by design” and not by accident) the threadbare plot isn’t anything more than an instruction manual. It’s not a complete and worthy story in its own right.
P.S. Over at This Cage is Worms, Cameron has a completely different reaction to the game.