How I Review Games I: Single Player Games

I have been playing games for many years, but actually reviewing them is a new-ish practice for me.  I figured it would be useful to my readers to know how I go about reviewing the media I present here.

Video Games

Let’s start with video games, because that is what I deal with the most.

Genre Considerations

I have a few strong biases when it comes to games and gaming in general.

I like:

  • A strong narrative
  • Interesting characters
  • Mechanics that play with the game, but don’t drown it out.

This generally means that I like slower, more thought-provoking games and I find that for the most part, my wants are served by:

  • Adventure games
  • Role Playing games

I will play games in other genres, but my experience has been that these tend to emphasize mechanics over plot or character.  Usually this results in a one dimensional character that isn’t at all sympathetic or it produces a game world/story that’s so flat it could have been yanked from the back of a lucky packet.

Game Acquisition

A bag of money

Hmmmm. Money. Now to spend it all on foo- games. I mean games. They're practically the same thing!

In 2011, I started running a YouTube channel that you can find here.

I wanted to showcase games that I genuinely cared for and liked a lot – to expose those games to a greater audience and just to have a record of my experience with that particular title.  It didn’t take too long for a few developers to knock on my door.  They were there so that they could offer me “free copies” of their game in exchange for a play through.  I thought about this long and hard before turning all of them down.  I don’t like the idea that I am “bought” by a publisher or a developer.

This means that if you’re seeing a game show up in my review queue, it’s because I paid for a copy.  [Or have reasonable access to a bought copy.]

Gameplay Considerations

a vector graphic image of a flag pole and a castle entrance.

Oh, video game. Your game play is in another castle.

If I can’t finish the game, then it’s not something I’m going to be able to review.  I like the idea that you are seeing a review by someone who has actually gone through the game from end to end.  I like the idea that I have seen most of everything there is to see in that title.  By this I mean that if a game requires “multiple playthroughs,” you will have my review after I’m done with the first run, because I don’t [generally] feel that’s a good basis for most game designs.

What I Discuss While Reviewing

I feel that gaming is mature enough at this point that there are older examples of games we can draw from when talking about current games.  To that end, there might be a mild history lesson in my review to set both tone and context.

Since games are a combination of sight and sound and control scheme, I touch on all of these things, but I feel that a review should be more than a graphics and sound score, so unless the game is exceptional in either department, I won’t do much more than touch on those two items.

I also think it’s fairly important that you have value for money, because the hobby is expensive.  Most of my conclusions try to talk about why you should or should not experience the game. I try to suggest a price-point where it might be worthwhile looking into the product in question if I feel it’s not “worthy of buying at full price."

Why I NEVER Score Games

a collection of "star awards" for a job well done.  star awards in the image begin at 5 [the "best"] and range all the way down to 1 [the "worst."]

This game is worth 7 bats out of 3 frogs. That's more-or-less exactly what numbers say.

A score is simply an arbitrary number attached to a collection of words about a subject when we are talking about reviews.  While a score might accurately summarize the content of the review, the score is just a number.  As such I don’t think it’s useful in the context of a discussion about a game’s relative merits.

What is a review?

Leading on from numerical scores – which are just numbers that a reviewer has dreamed up to summarize his pleasure/displeasure with that element of the product-in-question, so it is important to note that a review is simply an opinion written down where other people can access that opinion.

My perspective on games and gaming are not “more correct” than your perspective and opinion on games and gaming.  They’re just different.

That said, if you trust me and my judgment when it comes to this kind of thing, well…I’m very flattered.  Thank you.

Conclusion

I hope this has helped a little, with regards to how I view reviews and has given you some semblance of what you can expect from me.

Thank you for your time and I hope to see you in the next review.


Images Courtesy of Pixabay.