It’s about time we all came to terms with the fact that episodic games aren’t really going to change from episode to episode. Sure, each episode may have a different plot and contain different puzzles, but the gameplay will stay generally the same. Because of this, all of the good elements of the first episode will generally carry over to the following episodes as well, but this also means that all of the game’s flaws will also carry over. If we’re lucky, the games will be a lot of fun and have a whole lot of charm, like Telltale Games’ Tales of Monkey Island and Strong Bad series. Sometimes, on the other hand, a series of episodic games just doesn’t quite work out the way it should, and it ends up just being episode after episode of bland gameplay and tedious story lines. That being said, have you heard that there’s a new episode of House, M.D. available now on DSiWare?
House, M.D. - Episode 3: Skull and Bones tells the story of a college kid who suddenly collapses during a fraternity’s hazing ritual. The mystery unfolds as his health progressively declines and the doctors at Princeton-Plainsboro must race to find the cause of the student’s illness. While the story may be interesting, the presentation, just as with the previous two episodes, diminishes the charm that any television episode of House might have. Because the entire story is told using still images and blocks of text, what when we end up with are lifeless characters and drab situations that would otherwise be both dramatic and humorous if presented in the proper medium.
The actual gameplay has not changed since the previous two episodes either; it still retains its point-and-click adventure gameplay and the mini-games from the first two episodes are repeated here. The exception to this is the addition of one new mini-game that involves watching a series of different circles light up, then tapping the circles to repeat their pattern. While this small portion of gameplay is significantly more fun and requires more effort than the rest of the episode, it lasts for no more than two minutes. Beyond this, the rest of the mini-games involve little more than you tapping and sliding the stylus on the DSi’s touch screen where and when the game tells you to in order to perform low-level medical procedures or find hidden objects. While these mini-games do break up the monotony of the still-image storytelling, they are not actually all that fun to play. They can be pretty tedious after just a short while.
Oddly enough, this episode actually seems to be shorter than the other two have been. Regardless of whether or not this is actually true, or if the gameplay has just become too predictable, is unclear. Either way, this game can easily be completed in less than two hours, and with an 800 Point price tag, it’s hard to say that this game is worth its weight in gold.
Both the audio and the visuals have kept their same quality from the previous two episodes, the audio lacking variety and the visuals actually being the most impressive part of the game. It’s a good thing that the visuals continue to be unchanged, or else there would be very few positive things to actually say about any of these House, M.D. games.
If you’ve already played the previous two episodes of House, M.D. and you haven’t been completely let down yet, then you might actually enjoy House, M.D. - Episode 3: Skull and Bones. If, on the other hand, you never bothered to spend your valuable time or money on episodes 1 or 2, then you’re much better off skipping this one as well. Like we said about both episodes 1 and 2, this game is short, unsatisfying, and hardly with the 800 Point asking price.