GRAVITY BONE / Blendo Games / PC
I'm tempted to compare Gravity Bone to the shareware teaser episodes that used to be so common in '90s PC gaming. That wouldn't really be fair to those demos, though, as many of them were quite substantial.
I remember reading a lot of the usual "beautiful and important" indie game journalist faff about this in the late Aughts, but I can't remember anyone once mentioning how incredibly short the game is. It's two levels, which combined take up maybe 10 minutes at best. The whole thing comes across more as a "look at these neat original animations in the Quake 2 engine" trip back to the demo scene of the 90s rather than an actual game.
Not that Gravity Bone is bad, it's just another case of game journos rolling logs too hard for any shiny novel indie thing that catches their eye. It certainly grabs your attention immediately with its novel art style, which is basically Grim Fandango in the world of Roblox. There is no introductory narrative setup whatsoever, but wandering about the first level quickly reveals you are some sort of intergalactic spy following cues to complete a mission.
And that's about it. It's a very neat-looking Quake 2 mod that consists of two very short levels. The first level is over in a snap; the second is more substantial, having you negotiate a minute or so of Half-Life-esque jumping puzzles before closing out with a short but impressively-designed chase sequence.
The defense here is going to be "but look at how it tells a story with no words, and in such a novel universe!" Yeah, so ... this isn't what a story is. This is a disjointed collection of fever-dream concepts. A nice-looking and fun one, but reading anything more than that into it is just trying way too hard. Any doubts about this should be dispelled when you get to the end and see flashbacks to the Godfather's Appolonia death scene (I wouldn't be shocked to learn a bunch of these uncultured animuheads didn't even recognize this) during a slow-motion fall taken straight from Cowboy Bebop. It's basically Dadaism in game form.
Anyway, NR for just barely qualifying as a game. As it turns out, it was just a teaser for the more substantial (and commercial) sequels Thirty Flights of Loving and Quadrilateral Cowboy.
* Download (Official site)
* Gameplay Video