‘Knee Deep Act 3: Boomtown’ Review

Platforms Windows, Mac, Linux    Developer Prologue Games       

Genre Point and Click Adventure   Platform Played On Mac

Curtains rise for the last time as the final installment of Knee Deep, the episodic adventure game from Prologue Games, takes the stage! In the third and final installment of the series, Knee Deep Act 3: Boomtown finds our three heroes tangled in the twisted political goings-on of Cypress Knee. In order to save their loved ones and, perhaps, the whole town, Ramona Teague, K.C. Gaddis, and Jack Bellet must escape the clutches of their foes and figure out just how deep this swamp hole goes.

‘Boomtown’ begins where ‘Fesitival’ left off, with Ramona, K.C. and Jack being framed and held hostage by the real perpetrators of the various crimes committed about town.  On the brink of uncovering the culprits behind the death of Tag Kern and the real motivations behind a few construction projects about the town, the trio must find a way to escape and put an end to this mystery once and for all.

As is the expectation with most story-based games, the pacing and development of the overall narrative must be a core focus. While it did take some time for the world of Knee Deep to be fully realized over the course of three episodes, ‘Boomtown’ is the satisfying conclusion that this web of whodunit needed. The most rewarding part of ‘Boomtown’ is finally getting see the impact of your previous choices. While choice negotiation through the first two episodes felt arbitrary and gimmicky at best, ‘Boomtown‘ now allows for the manifestation of these decisions.

The one problem with this method, however, is that I would often forget which specific choice I made that yielded a particular result. Instead of differentiating which actions caused which event, a simple message would appear that said “This reflects a previous choice” on the top right hand side of the screen. Whether or not this is due to the fact that I played through the series over the last year, waiting a few months in between as each installment came out, I’m unsure. Regardless, there is still something to be said for instant “cause and effect” manifestation in choice making games.

One of the brighter spots of ‘Boomtown’ besides its killer story (no pun intended), was the continuation of the unique swamp noir/theatrical production feel of the experience. While the small elements of theatricality still felt awkward (i.e. “actors” would spontaneously begin to speak in rhyming couplets as a form of exposition), they are  what makes this series unique, among other presentation choices. The execution of these elements, however, could definitely be re-evaluated to create one seamless direction of the game. As of now, the moments of theatricality and murder mystery still feel in opposition with each other. They are certainly appreciated, for variety’s sake – however, they could be melded together with much more ease.

While the game was an overall very enjoyable experience, there were two main issues I found with this particular installment. The first was the selection of mini-games for this act, which I usually found to be a bright spot of the games. By including a mini-game within a point and click adventure/ story-based game, the idea is to continue the development of the story through a new fashion. While a new interface is at least different from interacting with the conversation wheel, its inclusion doesn’t necessitate that it adds to the quality of the experience. Both of the mini-games in this episode were difficult to navigate and lacked instructional prompts of what to do once I was brought to it. Once I learned what I had to do, the ‘challenges’ themselves were not challenging. In the last two installments, the mini-games were a welcome change to the standard point and click format, as well as fun to play through. Sadly in this act, they felt like ways in which to lengthen the play experience for the sake of lengthening it , taking away from the already amazing story.

My second main issue with the game, coming off the discussion above, is the overall length of the series. Played straight through, the series clocks in at about four hours long. The story of the Knee Deep series is original, engaging and an absolute treat to navigate – one of the better adventure games I’ve seen in quite some time! Sadly, I would have loved to see more of it.

The solution for this may already be under way. While the final act does a good job of tying most of the series’ loose ends up, this act definitely plants seeds for a sequel, or at least for the player’s imagination to fill in a few blanks.

Overall, Knee Deep Act 3: Boomtown was yet another great time at the theater. As of this publishing, the season ticket, which includes all three acts, is selling for $19.99 on Steam. While I do wish there was a bit more content for the price, getting three games, each with an ever strengthening understanding of story, is quite the steal. As this is Prologue Games’ first release, I’m now even more excited to see what they’ll cook up next. In the end, Knee Deep was an engrossing portrayal of a small Florida town riddled with rumors, razor-ship suspense, and a ridiculously entertaining cast of characters.  Boomtown ends it all with a bang, with the hope of more to come from this talented team.

The Good 

  • Absolutely incredible understanding of story-telling and pacing
  • Continuation of beautiful visuals
  • The attempted melding of genres and settings
  • Fantastic world building and character development
  • Ends with potential for more installations to come!

The Bad 

  • Theatricality still feels a little awkward
  • Mini-games fall flat in this installation
  • We wish the series could be longer!

 The Score: 7.8