Thirty Flights of Loving is a very minimalistic game. It is also very short, averaging play time at around 20 minutes. These combined factors give us a rare opportunity for analysis (compared to longer narrative games). The minimalistic factor means that when an object or action appears in the game, we can be certain that it is meant to be there and be viewed by the audience. The short life of Thirty Flights of Loving means we can easily frame specific game events and features against the broader narrative. That being said, we will focus on one of these specific events in hopes to give insight into the game and its narrative. This is no space to summarize the game, but the Wiki may help. The best bet for understanding the game is playing it – it’s available on Steam for about $5.00 as I write this.
There are many lenses to view this scene through, but we will primarily use a symbolic lense, as symbolism is very prevalent in the scene. Also, rather than breaking up this scene analysis into thematic chunks, we will analyze it chronologically. The hope is that things are easier to follow this way. Let’s dive in:
Entering the roof of an apartment building, we can see cliques of people gathered around tables. The food looks high-class: sushi and small appetizers. People are dressed nicely, and there is a decadent cake, provided by Anita, in front of a bride and groom. This all contrasts starkly with the concrete and industrial fans of the building’s rooftop. We don’t see this, but there is a packed alley, filled with drying shirts, cheap neon signage, and police drones over the railing. Despite the contrast, the space feels very homey – there is a pink, orange, and overall warm color to the space provided by the ornamental lanterns. As we approach the gift table, it almost seems natural that it’s adorned with boxes of alcohol.
Actually, alcohol is the only gift given to the bride and groom – that and the cake made by Anita. She could have given any gift, but the confection was chosen specifically. During this prohibition era, the simple cake seems like an innocent gesture when compared to the immoral and outlawed alcohol. Looking to the person who made the cake, we could conclude this is meant to represent some of the innocence that Anita holds in this dystopian time. She engages in drinking of course, but her innocence is tied more to love – hence the the cake is made for the union of two people.
Anita’s value of two peoples’ love is very important to the game narrative and how things unfold. After a toast, dancing begins. While everybody is dancing the player and Anita stay behind, drinking heavily and becoming intoxicated. As they drink, the other partygoers start floating into the sky, glowing various colors. This can be interpreted as literal elation, and can be seen as good overall. But as we finish the scene on the rooftop, we experience a scene cut in which we descend back into the apartment rooms. We pass several cats on the way down – often associated with sex due to their other name. Going down and down, the player approaches Anita in the bed. Once they reach her, the player falls down a long red/pink duct – perhaps also symbolic of sex. This quick cut between the bed and the long fall is saying this is where everything went downhill.
Going past the end of the above video, you are literally dropped into the scene where Anita has betrayed the crew. Given the author’s choice to put these events close together in the narrative timeline, we can gather that it was in that moment where things went wrong? But why?
Taking Borges through the airport, we see the motto of Cugat Airlines repeatedly: “Forget your past!” as you leave Anita behind and take Borges. During the Drone shootout scene, we get a brief, but revealing flashback. It’s easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention. This video starts at the flashback:
It’s the same setting where the player takes Anita to bed, but instead of Anita it’s another woman. It’s actually the same woman at the very beginning of the video I recorded on the right of the screen. With this information, we can gather that you didn’t actually take Anita to bed, but you betrayed her love and went to bed with another woman.
Considering Anita’s values towards love, it makes sense that she snapped when she found out. During the crew’s next job, she then betrays the player and Borges.
The influence of alcohol likely played a big role in the player’s betrayal of Anita. The author makes us think: is this prohibition era really bad? Are the alcohol smuggling characters actually evil for fighting the system? Or is it a right of the people to choose what they consume?