For those of you that were curious – here’s what factors into a typical review for the site. Please keep in mind that not all things here will factor into every review. Also note that these are the factors that I (RHGSniperFox/James Headrick) weigh in a review. They reflect my own, personal thoughts on what is important for a game.
Story generally doesn’t weigh too heavily on a game’s score. This is because not everyone cares about a narrative when playing a game – as well as the fact that not every game actually has a story.
Because of that – I feel it a bit unfair to skew a game’s rating too much just because the narrative wasn’t strong – unless narrative was the driving force behind the entire game. As an example, a game like Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction would not have its weaker story effect its rating quite as much as something like Telltale’s The Walking Dead. Story isn’t the focus of Mercenaries – it only exists to drive the player forward and supply context to the destruction.
While in TTTWD, the story is the core of the game. There’s very little actual interactivity/gameplay outside of making choices that affect the plot, and solving basic puzzles in order to continue the story. It’s only slightly more interactive than a standard Visual Novel. If the story is uninteresting or bad in a game like that, then there’s isn’t much reason to play it as there isn’t really anything more to it.
A slightly more important factor – as this covers not only graphics, but music, art style, technical performance, and just about everything in-between.
Since it covers such a wide breadth of things, it factors a bit more heavily into a final rating. While things like art style, musical quality, and character designs are all things that can be judged subjectively, factors like audio issues, framerate drops, and visual/mechanical bugs are not.
Those factors must be addressed and the worse they are, the more of an effect they can have on my view of the title. I can generally overlook them when the issues are occasional and minor, especially in the presence of the subjective factors standing out to me.
However, no amount of pretty locales/hyper detailed textures can make me ignore when a game runs like a Powerpoint™ presentation, or when sounds constantly drop out for no reason, or ridiculously high amounts of crashing/save corruption.
The most important factor for most games reviewed here. Gameplay is, 90% of the time, the entire reason for, well, playing a game.
If the controls don’t feel good, or the game feels like it wants to force players to spend money on microtransactions (Regardless of being Free-to-Play or not), or the core game loop just feels boring to do – that’s going to impact the rating harshly.
By that same logic, if the controls are responsive, the game loop feels fun and there’s lots of variety/openness to the core game – then that’s going to result in a lot of praise (Take a look at my review of Dead Cells to see what I mean.)
Another thing that doesn’t actually count too heavily towards the final rating – but is still at least considered and talked about.
Much like things like art style, replay value is a fairly subjective subject. Not everyone has an interest in playing a game more than once. Not every game is designed to be played more than once. Personally, I like going back to games every now and then after I’ve beaten them, just to play them again from a fresh start.
As for what counts here? Anything that encourages you to keep playing after the credits roll. Difficulty levels, trophies/achievements, unlockables, New Game+, post-game content – things like that.
The more a game offers players, the better – as long as that content is actually offering something worthwhile. New Game+ that doesn’t really change anything about the game isn’t exactly worth going through, but a new difficulty level that changes up enemy patterns/behaviors, is.
This is a summary. It’s a quick rundown of my overall thoughts and hopefully a clarification on how I actually feel about the game in question.
There won’t be anything here that actually affects the score – rather, it should serve as a final explanation of why the game got that rating, and whether or not the game is actually worth your time and/or money.