For me personally, the magic of sitcoms is being able to stick a season on and binge it in the background for hours at a time. Two hours into starting 3 out of 10: Season One, I’d already gotten to the cliffhanger ending. 3 out of 10: Season One posits itself as a playable sitcom all about gaming, and although it’s definitely got its fair share of laughs and crazy situations, this first season ends up feeling like more of a pilot run than a definitive opener to a new series. What’s here is fun, but there’s not enough to really get invested just yet.
3 out of 10: Season One stars Midge, an animator who is brought into the infamously bad Shovelworks Studios as they try to release their new endful runner game, Surfing with Sharks. Yes, I said endful not endless. The first season follows her getting to know the rest of the team and deal with the bizarre situations they find themselves in as they try and get a game that rates above a 3 out of 10.
As a sitcom should be, 3 out of 10: Season One is mostly focused on humour and thankfully it’s pretty funny throughout. I wasn’t wheezing with laughter, but I was smiling most of the time and actively looking forward to the cutscenes. There’s a lot of cliches in its characters and stories like the violence-obsessed Viper and his love for a Gears of War clone, but there’s also some genuinely funny commentary and characterisation.
It really feels like the season starts to pick up some steam after its first few episodes, with the last three being the best of the bunch. One episode has the team trying to pivot towards whatever trend is hot within the industry and having a mock battle royale to decide the direction, whilst another focuses on the best character Pylon as he glitches and tries to sneak into Canada for free health care. A lot of the time it can be irreverant and dumb, but there’s also quite a lot of heart here and it genuinely does shine through in the moments where jokes fall flat.
I started off with a passing interest in the characters and world, but soon found myself actually enjoying what I was watching. Some of it can be obvious commentary on things like internships in gaming and following the battle royale trend, but then again it also had me laughing in those moments. Watching Pylon do dance emotes akin to Fortnite and hearing the passive cries of interns being used as furniture is funny, and you’d have to be cold-hearted to not laugh at least a few times.
Beyond the jokes, there’s also a wider mystery mixed into the plot which is where it falls a little bit flat for me. I think the problem lies more with the fact that the season ends on a cliffhanger directly related to a mystery that has barely started up, as if that’s supposed to be a jaw-dropping moment. I would have much preferred if they’d have left the mystery out until next season, or at least made it a bit more interesting.
That ties into the biggest problem I have with 3 out of 10: Season One: it’s simply far too short. Half an hour per episode isn’t too bad, but you have to remember that some of that is also spent walking around and playing mini-games, so it’s really like 15 to 20 minutes per episode. If there were more than five episodes here it would be fine but as it is right now, I can’t help but want more. That’s arguably a good thing though, that I played through it all and actively wanted to see more from it.
In between all of the cutscenes are moments where you can control the main characters to explore the environment and interact with objects, as well as little mini-games that take advantage of the weird situations you’re in. The exploration is incredibly basic, whilst the mini-games are very hit and miss. Some of them, like the skydiving one or the first-person ones, are fun and creative, whilst there are some box-moving puzzles that made me want to skip through them.
Bear in mind, these mini-games are really the only playable element of 3 out of 10: Season One besides walking around the same office space. At their worst, I’d call them pointless, but at their best, they can be pretty fun connecting tissue between the cutscenes. Considering this is a commentary on smaller projects such as the game the crew are making, perhaps it’s purposeful that the game focuses on smaller experiences.
Thankfully, 3 out of 10: Season One actually gives you the option to completely skip scenes if you aren’t interested, including the mini-games themselves. Obviously, for the sake of reviewing the game, I never skipped anything, but it’s actually a pretty cool inclusion for those who simply want to watch the game rather than play it.
One point that I think is necessary to bring up is the pricing for the Nintendo Switch release. On the Epic Game Store, 3 out of 10: Season One is completely free with the option to buy the soundtrack, whereas on Switch the game is £8.99 for the first season with some goodies included like a big head mode. 3 out of 10: Season One is absolutely worth giving a go for free and I’d argue it’s still worth it for the small asking price here, but considering how short it is I don’t know if I can fully recommend it on Switch when it’s going for free elsewhere.
Speaking of the Switch version, 3 out of 10: Season One works pretty well on the handheld. Out of comfort I mostly played in handheld mode, where I ran into some long loading times at the start of episodes but that was about it. The graphics are a little jaggy, but once you’ve got into an episode there aren’t any problems to speak of.
3 out of 10: Season One shows a lot of promise and heart through its humour and characters, even if its short length is disappointing and its gameplay feels a bit superfluous. I’ll certainly be checking out season two whenever that rolls around.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Terrible Posture Games