The goofy 3 Out of 10 returns for Season 2, bringing back its motley cast of video game developers at Shovelworks Studio. Comprised of five episodes, the Epic Games Store exclusive comedy series is a kind of interactive animated sitcom that’s loaded with video games industry jokes and a variety of mini-games.
At the same time, players are treated to a story filled with entertaining characters who almost willingly step into whacky situations. A subplot about some shadow organization and strange supernatural happenings also slowly plays out. The series delivers a bit of light fun between playing more “serious” or longer titles by offering the ability to skip, rewind, and replay sequences as you please.
Still getting 3 Out of 10
Season Two picks up almost exactly where the Season 1 left off several months ago with the crew still working on a game called Surfing with Sharks, which maintains a predicted score of 3 out of 10 despite some mysterious alternations being made to it on a nightly basis. As such, the new episodes feel less like a new season and more of a direct continuation of the first one. Think of it more as Season One Part Two, which probably would have made for a nice little fantasy-based role-playing game joke.
The subplot is about the new employee, Midge, which is a kind of double agent sent in by a shadowy umbrella-carrying organization to ensure the studio never makes a good game. The story is touched on from time to time, but is never explored with any depth. At the same time, there are strange things going on at Shovelworks, including cannibalistic engineers hidden in the basement, a spontaneously combusting animator, and an angry tentacle living in the fridge. These also don’t get as much attention this time around.
Instead, there are more episodes that have to do with office hijinks, such as when game designer Kevin drinks too much coffee and transcends into an insane(?) level of thinking. Although there aren’t dialogue choices or decisions that impact how things will play out, the series has enough charm to keep me interested from one episode to the next. My playthroughs usually ran between 30 to 45 minutes per episode, making 3 Out of 10 an excellent title for players who don’t have a lot of time on their hands.
A large part of it can be attributed to the characters and dialogue, but the mini-games make up a significant portion. Inspired by a variety of game types and genres with gaming jokes mixed in, these mini-games range from platformers to puzzles and more. In essence, the season is made up of several game types spanning multiple genres. One of my favorites is when Surfing with Sharks is turned into a surprisingly fun board game. I also enjoyed playing the old-school role-playing dungeon crawler when actually crawling through the building’s air ducts. Some of these are held back by clunky controls, such as the soccer game that features multiple exploding balls, but the games work the majority of the time.
Even checking out the latest Surfing with Sharks build is a treat, since there’s something new about it with each episode. With each change, it’s turning out to be a weirdly ok game, especially when weapons and other surprises are added. However, the game still ends a few minutes in when the main character crashes into a literal brick wall.
Although the episodes themselves are entertaining enough, 3 Out of 10 Season 2 doesn’t have its own distinct identity. There are some hilarious carryovers from one episode to the next, such as the whiteboard with Kevin’s insane diagrams written on it and a computer carved from butter that eventually attracts flies, but there isn’t a big narrative arc that ties things together. New elements that are introduced, such as an army looking to recruit hardcore gamers into its ranks and a secret one-sided rivalry between Shovelworks and a super-successful game studio, are practically forgotten about after their respective episodes.
For the most part, players are still learning about the main characters and their quirks. Mysteries such as why it’s so important that Shovelworks only releases bad games, details about the organization that’s keeping an eye on them, and why there’s a tentacle living in the refrigerator are largely glossed over. Secrets that are revealed might not make a lot of sense and can even lead to more questions. It’s getting to the point where the game might be juggling too much at once. For instance, I forgot about how the daily game updates were an ongoing mystery, despite how characters occasionally pointed out that they had no idea who was doing it. I simply accepted it as something that just happened until an end of episode reveal occurred, and the topic is only briefly mentioned once later and practically forgotten afterward.
Still, 3 Out of 10 continues to deliver a wild and comically clever ride while poking light fun at video games. Standout moments include a sentient AI that’s out to mug the crew with an army of knife-wielding, volatile drones. Another has players charging into vehicular combat against a bunch of heavily armored catapults. These and other moments keep players guessing about what’s coming next, but they don’t necessarily inspire much replay value.
Die-hard completionists may want to go through each episode to find all the collectibles and earn all of the stars, but the game is extremely casual about it. Collectibles include rubber duckies and looking at the same cereal box using different characters for varied responses. None of it impacts the game or unlocks anything, so there isn’t much motivation to actively seek things out and climb to the top of the fake leaderboard.
To be continued…
The 3 Out of 10 series clearly has a lot of heart and loves all the quirks and craziness video game culture is prone to. But while it excels at creating hilarious moments, it’s not quite as good at tying all these moments together into an ongoing narrative. Right now, it feels like there’s a little too much going on for five episodes. At the same time, the bigger plot doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Hopefully more will be revealed when the series moves into the next season.