Ever play a REALLY bad game and ponder to yourself, “What were the developers thinking?!” as you work through a myriad of poor design choices and broken gameplay mechanics? Well, 3 Out of 10: Season One will give you an idea of what the hell might have been going on, with it offering a narrative-driven (the developer actually describes it as ‘part animated show, part game’) and mini-game fuelled escapade that focuses on a game development studio that specialises in releasing games that NEVER score higher than the titular ‘3 out of 10’.
I should probably give this review a score of ‘3 out of 10’ to fit in with the theme, right? It’s a great idea, but unfortunately the game itself actually offers a genuinely charming and well-written escapade that is strengthened by the variety of its gameplay mechanics. I REALLY enjoyed it.
3 Out of 10: Season One puts players in the role of Midge, an animator that takes on a job at Shovelworks Studios; a game development studio that are known for producing BAD games. Hey, you got to take work where you can get it, right? As expected, her fellow colleagues at the studio are a pretty wacky bunch, but they’re all friendly enough and certainly introduce plenty of fun (and most times weird) situations into life at the studio.
With five episodes featured in total, you’ll get to see a semi-realistic (and I’m using that term VERY loosely) look into life in the game’s industry. Whether it’s keeping up with trends, dealing with fans who are NOT happy with the mistakes that the team makes, or simply trying to work together with your colleagues to get through every zany scenario you find yourself in, it’s easy to understand how mishaps occur. Of course, it wouldn’t’ be an episodic release without some mysterious going-ons behind the scenes to add a sense of intrigue between episodes, and 3 Out of 10: Season One certainly delivers there.
Between the genuinely likeable cast, the comical writing (it had me laughing out loud a LOT), and the countless nods to the video game industry, I really enjoyed 3 Out of 10: Season One’s storytelling. It’s a good job too, because a lot of time is simply spent watching the tale unfold. The developers weren’t kidding when they said it was ‘part animated show’ and it’d be easy to think you are watching a cartoon at times. Luckily, it’s an absorbing one of high quality, so it’s easy to get yourself hooked into the kooky world.
Whilst the narrative of 3 Out of 10: Season One is certainly the crux of the experience, there’s plenty to enjoy as far as the gameplay is concerned.
Firstly, there are moments of light exploration where you’ll get to navigate your surroundings, interact with some objects, and speak to the other characters that are lingering around. It feels like a Telltale Games release during these sections, though they’re never fleshed out too much and mainly act as a bit of an interlude between the different mini-games featured in 3 Out of 10: Season One. It’s neat to explore, but there’s not a whole lot of depth to it.
Fortunately, the mini-games bring plenty of variety to the experience and give players a wide array of fun tasks to get stuck into. Some of them can be really simple, such as mixing up the parts of an action figure to match specific poses or moving blocks around to clear a path way towards a lost intern, but others do something a bit more playful such as introducing cover-based shooting, driving, and pinball-like mechanics into the mix. You’ll even do a spot of sky diving, wave-based brawling, and first-person exploration across each of the game’s five episodes, and honestly, it’s always a lot of fun to see what the game makes you do next.
Don’t get me wrong, some mini-games are certainly more enjoyable than others and there were a few that lacked the creative spark seen across the rest of the game, but it was still a delight to see so much variety across 3 Out of 10: Season One. Best of all, they tied in well with the narrative of the game, so they were never tacked on for the sake of it – you’ll even notice plenty of hints of the gaming tropes that inspired them, which was something that always brought a smile to my face. There’s even a sense of replayability to be found in the mini-games thanks to the fact you can earn up to five stars in each one, so there’s an incentive in place to re-visit them afterwards. It’s good stuff.
Between the genuinely entertaining narrative and selection of fun mini-games, there’s a whole lot to love about 3 Out of 10: Season One. Heck, it even runs and looks good on both the Nintendo Switch’s handheld and docked modes too, with the only performance issue I came across being some long loads times (and believe me, they could be REALLY long).
There was one thing that bothered me, though: the short length of the experience. I managed to clear the whole of 3 Out of 10: Season One in well under three hours, which is a lot shorter than the typical episodic releases that come out these days. It’s not a case of you not getting enough bang for your buck though – you can grab the game for just £8.99, which feels like a fair price given the quality of the content. I just wanted more because I was enjoying it so much… roll on Season Two.
At least 3 Out of 10: Season One brings with it an array of bonuses to bump up the package, including a ‘Free Roam’ exploration mode where you can learn more about the world and uncover collectibles, ‘Director Commentary’ to find out details about the game’s creation, and even a ‘Big Head Mode’ for those who miss the good old days where you could input a cheat code to give all of the characters big heads. How did that idea ever die out?! Man, I miss the ‘90s…
With its charming and well-written tale, creative mix of mini-games, and vibrant world, 3 Out of 10: Season One really makes for an episodic delight. I genuinely enjoyed seeing the tale unfold between episodes, whilst the mini-games add plenty of fun moments of interactivity to remind you that you are actually playing a video game.
The short length and the long loading times were a bit of a shame, but they don’t stop 3 Out of 10: Season One from being a must-play (and watch) narrative-driven escapade.
Developer: Terrible Posture Games
Publisher: Terrible Posture Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
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