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 affect its rating quite as much as something like Telltale’s The Walking Dead. The story isn’t exactly 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 not much reason to play it as there isn’t really anything more to it.
A slightly more important factor – as this covers not only visuals, 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 the final rating. While things like art style, musical quality, and character designs are all things that can be judged subjectively, stuff like audio issues, framerate drops, and visual/mechanical bugs are not.
Those issues 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 let it slide when the problems are occasional and minor, especially in the presence of the subjective factors standing out to me.
However, no amount of pretty locales or hyper detailed textures can make me ignore when a game runs like a Powerpoint™ presentation, when sounds constantly drop out for no reason, or ridiculously high amounts of crashing/save corruption. You can’t jingle keys in my face and expect me to be distracted.
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 things harshly.
By that same logic, if the controls are responsive, the game loop feels fun and there’s a lot of variety or 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 factor that doesn’t actually count too heavily towards the final rating – but is at least considered and talked about.
Much like an 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 might be.
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 its rating, and whether or not the game is actually worth your time and/or money.