This is one of my biggest regrets of 2008: had I played Brendon Chung’s indie PC game Gravity Bone on first glance it would have made The Offworld 20 without question. Instead, I waited until after the new year, thinking it’d be a game I’d have to sit down and take in like a slow meal.
This turned out not to be true: you can finish Gravity Bone in about as much time as it takes to complete many games’ tutorials, and get more out of the experience than you did most games in their entirety. If Portal was gaming’s latest great novella, Gravity is its mini-comic: colorful, concise, and economical.
The less said about the actual mechanics of the game, the better, as any exposition threatens to give away its best twists. The generics, though: it’s a double-mission exotica-tinged snapshot of the life of a contract killer and his infiltration of a secret jet-set society; spy-fi by way of Fellini’s leisure life and LucasArts’ Grim Fandango. None of this is said, of course, just confidently implied through its symbols and traces of its signal drifting number-station mumblings.
Currently employed at Pandemic designing levels for EA’s just released Lord of the Rings: Conquest, Chung’s mini-game feels like an exercise in escape, a nights-and-weekends rough sketch of the kind of games he by all rights should be doing full-time. Even with its double-take ending (and for all its gnawing mysteries [what was going to be mapped to inventory slot 3?]), it’s over all too soon, and — though he’s detouring through his top-down Xbox 360 Community Game Atom Zombie Smasher — it’s something we sincerely hope he comes back home to soon.