3 Out Of 10 touts itself as the first ever interactive sitcom… probably. Fact-checking that probably wouldn’t be that difficult, but I’m not going to do that – let’s just let them have this one. Originally released for free on the Epic Store, this collection of five quick-fire episodes tells the tale of the worst game development studio in existence.
The game sees new animator Midge Potter join a dev team after their last one exploded, introduced quickly to a wacky cast of characters that hit on a bunch of tropes with love and reverence. There’s utterly outlandish oddballs, robots, asshole bosses and people just trying to do their jobs with frivolous shenanigans around every corner.
The first episode is really strong – it walks the line between relatable comedy, even for people who haven’t worked in the games industry, and over the top surreality. 3 Out Of 10 begins to meander a bit in quality through the middle, and the fourth episode caused my Switch to crash out every time I launched it. (EDITOR’S NOTE: This crash was a result of a pre-release build of the game, and is NOT present in the final console version available now) The jokes still get the odd chuckle, but there’s nothing as funny as episode one’s group of fickle protestors or casual intern sacrifices.
Episodes are peppered liberally with minigames, more often than not direct homages to classic games. If you want to sit back and enjoy the story, these can all be skipped, but I found myself doing that more often than not simply because they weren’t all that compelling in the first place. They’re fun for about thirty seconds, serving a decent enough purpose in breaking up all the dialogue, but the story progresses in the same way regardless. There’s a pinball minigame in the final episode which could have been the best of the lot, dogged by input lag which makes it downright boring.
There are flashes of real creativity and fantastic writing – I really can’t fault the majority of the dialogue or voice acting, it’s all on a pretty great level which makes 3 Out Of 10 indistinguishable from your standard animated sitcom. It’s in the moments where it remembers it has to be interactive that it feels weakest, and while none of the minigames are totally awful, they’re also not memorable in the slightest. As a story, it doesn’t have much focus. There’s some hints that our heroine Midge has a nefarious backstory, but this is so rarely touched upon that I’d completely forgotten by the time it came up in the final episode (which was probably about an hour of playtime later).
Nevertheless, it hits some funny beats, much in the vein of Community‘s random lapses into school-wide violence when the studio’s clueless boss demands a sudden pivot into battle royale territory. They’ve done a really good job of making game development inside jokes relatable to the masses, and the random tangents it spins off into are enjoyable. 3 Out Of 10 is just too short to balance its A and B plots – it’s like a Family Guy episode that’s made up entirely of cutaways with ten second glimpses of the actual story. Which, to be fair, is more or less what Family Guy is anyway.
In the final episode, Midge experiences a change of heart, deciding that she can’t turn against her team after all – but we haven’t really been shown enough development between the characters to give that any real impact. Unless it all happens in the fourth episode, which I was entirely unable to play (ED: Again, this crash was present in the pre-release version of the game, and was addressed in the full release), 3 Out Of 10 just assumes that we’ve all grown super-fond of its characters in our brief time with them and skips to the end.
3 Out Of 10: Short and slightly sweet
As something released for free, I’d recommend this heartily. As a paid for experience, it is a little bit lacking, and while the final score might not live up to the name, it’s a bit closer than I expected. The first episode is fantastic, but the rest of 3 Out Of 10 just doesn’t follow through, ending on a bit of a whimper and the promise to see us next season. Maybe with a fanbase behind it and a bit of extra funding, any future seasons could be much better – all the talent is there to make it happen.
It has all the foundations of a good sitcom, but there’s just too little here to make it compelling beyond your first watch. I was intrigued by Midge’s ulterior motives, and yet I don’t feel as though I’d rush to play the second season. An enjoyable experience that will probably struggle to be as memorable as it could be.