I try to approach reviewing games starting with a single question: how well did this game accomplish what it set out to do? I think this is a great starting point for a number of reasons, the most important one being that it allows for a game like Journey (a 2 hour indie title) to receive the same ‘score’ as a lengthy RPG with a huge studio behind it. This is my personal way of trying to evaluate each game individually on its own merit. Obviously video games don’t exist in a vacuum, and in a lot of ways, it’s easy to compare them with each other, but then you fall into the trap of “how can this game get X score when that game only got Y score?” Reviewing video games is also completely subjective, so I may love a game that you detest, or vice versa. I can’t help but let my personal feelings affect my conclusions, but I do try my best to outline the thoughts and reasons that lead me to my decisions. Part of the reason I love reading and writing video game reviews is seeing the different experiences that different people can have with the same game – and this is where I like to talk about it.
My intentions are not necessarily to convince you whether a game is ‘good’ or worth buying. I like to talk about the merits of what I’m playing – where I think a game excelled, and where I think it fell short. How the story affects the way the game plays (or the other way around). How well the game presented its message, and whether I think there were any major pitfalls, or room to improve. I will occasionally talk about social and/or political issues presented in games if I feel like they were handled particularly well, or very poorly. I find these subjects to be very interesting. If this is something that bothers you, feel free to give those reviews a pass. I will always try to cover the video game basics: gameplay, story, visuals, and sound. What it boils down to is this – I just like talking and thinking about games. If you’re reading this, I hope you do too!
Finally: I do not give out numbered scores (the d20’s are just for show!) Instead, I give each game a “score” from the following scale:
Outstanding – There is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ game, but this is pretty darn close. Exceptional gameplay, characters, and narrative. Unforgettable, and what I would consider a must-play.
Great – Does a fantastic job with gameplay, characters, and narrative, with a few missteps. Absolutely worth playing, and still has staying power as a standout title.
Good – Generally a well put together game, with maybe one or two areas lacking, (either gameplay/characters/narrative) falling short of its potential. Worth playing.
Average – While not a bad game, all three core elements are sub-par in some way. Usually forgettable. I will specifically state whether I believe it to be worth playing.
Bad – Character, story, and gameplay are executed and implemented poorly. Usually repetitive, monotonous, and generally un-fun. Technical issues. Would not recommend this title.
Using this method, you get a general idea of my feelings about the game, while my review points out what I believed to be the positive and negative aspects. The difference between a “Great” and “Good” or any other score can be tricky, but usually comes down to how much fun I had with the game, and how well I thought its elements gelled together. As always, feel free to comment any feedback, or your own opinions – I love hearing about others experiences. Happy reading, and happy gaming!