Gravity Bone

Gravity Bone

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Not every game is a 20 hour, epic, big-budget extravaganza. Many great games don't have a marketing budget. A lot of great games don't have a budget, period. They can't count on that 30-second spot during prime time or that giant review placement on IGN's homepage. These games are out there on the edge, hoping some average gamer gives them a shot. There are plenty of great finds out there on the fringe, if you take the time to look. Here at GWJ, we're starting a series we call Fringe Busters, about the games out there on the fringe of the gaming industry--games that may normally go completely unnoticed--but we think they deserve a look.

Case in point: the wonderful First Person Spy game Gravity Bone, by Brendon Chung. Its charming graphics remind me of No One Lives Forever meets Animal Crossing: cubic characters set to a psychedelic color palette. You're dropped into the world of Nuevos Aires where “We provide the pliers and you bring the moxie.” To tell any more about it would be to spoil it. Trust me, it's well worth the free download.

Why You Should Check This Out: Gravity Bone takes game storytelling places it's never been. Click on "new game" and there's no UI, no explanation, just an elevator on a bright gold Love Boat and a card in your hand that sends you to the furnace room. It's a new take on storytelling in games, a slice of narrative that will leave you puzzled and pondering long after you're back, staring at your desktop.

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Comments

I think Gravity Bone is falling into the trap of, "I don't understand it = incredibly deep." I don't understand it. Seems to be something about killing earwigs. I dunno. I really don't find it all that deep or fresh, just weird.

There's nothing to understand though. It's just a short story about a spy. Sure it's stylized and presented as a game, but the plot should be apparent. It's not deep but it's not just random weirdness either. I enjoyed it for what it was, a very simple game with a fun twist ending.

My absolute favorite part was:

[color=white]His life flashing before his eyes as he fell to his death.[/color]
Certis wrote:

My absolute favorite part was:

[color=white]His life flashing before his eyes as he fell to his death.[/color]

I second that, I think it summed up the whole vibe the game was trying to get across.

[color=white]I haven't laughed at my own death that hard since Left 4 Dead. [/color]

[/quote]

It was...good...I don't know. It was easy and there wasn't much of a story really. I know some people have said it was "ambiguous" but there's ambiguous and then there's ambiguous.

But serious kudos for the Brazil references. I did enjoy it.

Amusing and clever.

Just finished it. Nice to use theme from Brazil for instant atmosphere. Also the Quit reference to Doom is so nice in Quake2 engine game I guess I wouldn't pay for it, but if it develops into a few hour stylish spy parody, my wallet is ready.

If you decide against quitting when prompted, there's a little applause sound.

Well that was fun except for the jumping puzzle.

Felt constrained by the engine (naff floaty movement and no 16:10 support), but as a little concept it certainly hit the spot.

@Pyroman: The style of the game was awesome, and the ending was clever...but could you expand on your opinion that "Gravity Bone takes game storytelling places it's never been"? Sure, the ending is unexpected and very well-done and ambiguous, but I think Portal did all that already.

I'm not knocking the game - it's well worth playing for anyone. But I feel like a victim of your over-hyping, Pyroman

I don't get it. How is this deep or amusing? It just seems like I watched 5 minutes of a 2 hour movie. No closure, just left with this feeling of "...What?"

Okaaaaay...

I don't get it. I spent 15 minutes this morning to finish the game, and I think I want them back. Why is this brilliant?

spoilertag for anyone who's even later to the party than I am wrote:

[color=white]There's no way to win. If you pursue the spy who steals your camera you get shot and fall off the building. How is that functionally any different from failing the jumping puzzle in the middle of the second level?

If there's no way to win, it's not a game as the term is typically understood. It may be an interactive story, but I wouldn't really call it a game.

I liked the graphic design, and I liked the minimal interface, and I'd like to see them applied to an actual game with actual victory conditions.

[/color]

I think I agree with LobsterMobster:

LobsterMobster wrote:

I think Gravity Bone is falling into the trap of, "I don't understand it = incredibly deep." I don't understand it. Seems to be something about killing earwigs. I dunno. I really don't find it all that deep or fresh, just weird.

more spoiler commentary wrote:

[color=white]I think the only reason people think the ending of this game is so awesome is because the game was so short. Think about it: If you'd plowed a dozen or more hours into a game, and it ended like that, you'd be furious. Heck, I was mildly peeved and I only spent 15 minutes on it.

Then again, I've never undersood the appeal of the "bad ending." Lots of people seem to get engraged when the main character of a movie survives, and I've never understood that impulse. To me it's like saying "You've spent this time to get me invested in this character, and you're just going to end the movie with him being happy? You bastards!"

[/color]

I may just be thick, but I don't see why so many people are raving over this.

I have a question... I am stuck..lol.. cant believe it either. I took the pictures of three birds but cant get to the last two. There is a double door leading to the other side but its locked. Tried breaking the window but doesnt break. I've looked all around. Cant seem to figure it out. It is early but man, I should be able to get this. Any hints??

blackanchor wrote:

I have a question... I am stuck..lol.. cant believe it either. I took the pictures of three birds but cant get to the last two. There is a double door leading to the other side but its locked. Tried breaking the window but doesnt break. I've looked all around. Cant seem to figure it out. It is early but man, I should be able to get this. Any hints??

spoiler wrote:

[color=white]It's a jumping puzzle. The flagpole across the gap is bigger than it looks

[/color]

Damn. Double post.

Damn! Triple post! To be fair, the site died when I clicked "Post comment".

doubtingthomas396 wrote:
more spoiler commentary wrote:

[color=white]I think the only reason people think the ending of this game is so awesome is because the game was so short. Think about it: If you'd plowed a dozen or more hours into a game, and it ended like that, you'd be furious. Heck, I was mildly peeved and I only spent 15 minutes on it.

[/color]

Wrong. Think about all the most memorable parts of Call Of Duty 4 - those moments made the game for me! Frankly, I think the shortness of the game is actually a detriment; If they made a two- or three-hour version of this with a slightly less stylized look, it'd be amazing.

F*CK! I give up. You should have seen this error screen. I was scared.

[shame]

Hacienda is obviously infected and must be killed before he turns.

FYI, this article seems to be linked on the Gravity Bone homepage at Blendo Games.

The biggest thing I was really irritated with was that Squish promised me something like 20 minutes of gameplay and I only got 10. I kept thinking that I screwed up somewhere along the game in the

[color=white]Chase Scene[/color]

. Also, the mouse sensitivity was awkward, and coming out of the game I my cursor feels like it moves funny.

But that's really all I can say poorly about this game. One or two more levels would have been nice - but beyond that it would probably get a little stale, and truly kill the atmosphere. I don't want to spoil it for anybody, so the rest of my comments will follow:

[color=white]
The cold open is great. As soon as you get your instructions on the card, you begin to realize what it is you're doing. When you reach the furnace room and don the clothes, it should hit most of the players, if not all, exactly what is going on here. However, without any knowledge of the motivations of the character you can't help but go along with it (unless you like killing yourself through gravity more than once). In, out, done, mission accomplished. The next one, in a stormy building, definitely gave a great atmosphere. You're clearly an intruder in this scenario, and I couldn't help but glance over my shoulder every few seconds. I had chills down my spine. Then, the gunshots, scaring the hell out of me, followed by a pumping chase scene. The ending was perfect. You have no idea if you're a good guy, a bad guy, or complicated. It doesn't matter - the beauty of the game comes not, like a full length single player game, from connecting with the main character and then sharing in that character's triumphs and defeats, but rather from experiencing, briefly and fleetingly, a somewhat surreal scenario.

While I do believe some games choose to be strange for the sake of being strange, you have to realize that for others, especially independent developers of free games, aren't looking to create the same commercial product that a company that requires a profit is (Side note: I'm not bashing companies making profits - everybody has to make money in some way, and you don't fault a dentist for looking at teeth - why bash a game company trying to sell a game?). It's impossible to box every game creator's motivations into a set of categories, especially since we can't get in their heads. However, it's a fairly simple matter to instead accept a game for what it gives us, rather than what was intended. In this case, we get a brief escape from reality, an escape from games full of story, meaning, exposition, and lengthy resolution. Life of a spy, and then you die.

Try not to read too much into it. It's an interesting, involving, and ultimately too-brief experience that's difficult to find nowadays in a gaming experience. Roll with it - if you like it, then enjoy, and spread the word. If not, well, it shouldn't be too much skin off your back. [/color]

If you enjoyed this game, I'd highly recommend Aether.

Welcome to the site Panda! Well said, btw, I don't want to quote your spoiler comments but I agree completely with the last bit.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

Okaaaaay...

I don't get it. I spent 15 minutes this morning to finish the game, and I think I want them back. Why is this brilliant?

spoilertag for anyone who's even later to the party than I am wrote:

[color=white]There's no way to win. If you pursue the spy who steals your camera you get shot and fall off the building. How is that functionally any different from failing the jumping puzzle in the middle of the second level?

If there's no way to win, it's not a game as the term is typically understood. It may be an interactive story, but I wouldn't really call it a game.

I liked the graphic design, and I liked the minimal interface, and I'd like to see them applied to an actual game with actual victory conditions.

[/color]

I think I agree with LobsterMobster:

LobsterMobster wrote:

I think Gravity Bone is falling into the trap of, "I don't understand it = incredibly deep." I don't understand it. Seems to be something about killing earwigs. I dunno. I really don't find it all that deep or fresh, just weird.

more spoiler commentary wrote:

[color=white]I think the only reason people think the ending of this game is so awesome is because the game was so short. Think about it: If you'd plowed a dozen or more hours into a game, and it ended like that, you'd be furious. Heck, I was mildly peeved and I only spent 15 minutes on it.

Then again, I've never undersood the appeal of the "bad ending." Lots of people seem to get engraged when the main character of a movie survives, and I've never understood that impulse. To me it's like saying "You've spent this time to get me invested in this character, and you're just going to end the movie with him being happy? You bastards!"

[/color]

I may just be thick, but I don't see why so many people are raving over this.

I think you're way, way off here. Gravity Bone is no different from any other game with a linear story, it just doesn't end the way most games do. It's no less a game than Monkey Island or Grim Fandango.

As for the general point of unhappy endings, it's important that the ending fits the material. If you have a tragedy, and then cheat everything that's come before just because you want to give the audience a happy ending, then you've betrayed your story and deserve all the abuse you get. Same applies if you take a feelgood movie and plunge it into the pit of despair in the third act just because you've decided true art is angsty, natch.

Gravity Bone's ending is a twist, but it's in keeping with the offbeat humor and weirdness that precedes it. And sure, if the game had been longer and more involved, people might have been peeved at it for ending the way it did, but it isn't. Complaining about short fiction not playing by the same rules as long form is meaningless. I mean, what's up with comics strips just being setup for a punchline? If a graphic novel did that for 150 pages it would be *rubbish*!