Review scores are based on a simple 1 to 10 scale, because, hey, why not? We considered going with either 3 to 17 or S through F, but the internal debates over it dragged on for weeks. After many sleepless nights and broken homes, we went with the simplest answer.
After arriving at each category’s score, a simple average will determine the game’s OVERALL SCORE.
GAMEPLAY & MECHANICS
How intuitive are the controls the player is given? How clear are the player’s objectives? How challenging are enemies, obstacles, and puzzles? Gameplay and mechanics are the foundation of any good game. No matter how beautiful the graphics, how awe-inspiring the soundtrack, or how deep and compelling the story is, awkward controls and unclear objectives can ruin a game right out of the gate. Although our reviews are sure to be dynamic and add context and purpose to your life, if you see a low score in this category, you may want to simply move on to the next game.
VISUAL STYLE & QUALITY
Visual style is the primary focus of this category. How well the style fits and enhances the game outweighs how advanced the graphics themselves are considered to be, whether that style is considered retro, surreal, ultra-realistic, etc. The use of dynamic lighting, perspective, or other elements are also considered. Of course, we won’t insult your intelligence by pretending that purtiness isn’t also a factor.
A secondary, but nonetheless important, consideration is the quality of how visual elements are implemented. Level layout, object positioning, texture quality, and more can have a huge effect on this category’s final score.
Music, environmental sounds, and sound effects should work in conjunction with the game’s visual style to create a dynamic environment and support gameplay. Properly implemented, sound can create a sense of depth and immersion that visuals alone cannot. The technical quality, such as syncing, proper volume, etc. are just as important to this category. We will also attempt to warn gamers of potential earphone rape, which as you know is the third leading cause of death among gamers, behind rage-induced cardiac arrest and Mountain Dew overdose.
Judging story elements can be one of the most subjective parts of a review. How deep the story needs to be depends on the genre, game mechanics, and artistic sensibilities of both the developers and audience. In fact, some games may not have or need a story at all, omitting this category from a review. (On a side note, the backstory behind Tetris always brings a tear to our eye.) To that end, reviews which include this category must consider not the amount of story given, but how well the story is conveyed to the player, and the effect it has on overall gameplay.
Also, please note that we will try to keep our reviews spoiler-free. So, while we can give our thoughts on the presentation, depth, and effectiveness of the story, we will try to limit actual plot details to only what one might learn from promotional materials, or very early on in the game.
Multi-player elements can vary in depth. They can be simple community driven elements like leader boards, in-game messaging, and the like, or they can be more in depth, adding PvP and Co-op PvE elements. How well these are implemented can have a massive impact on the player’s ability to have a 13 year old question their sexual orientation, parentage, or ethnic background.
When you strip everything else away, there is one question that matters more than any other: Is it fun? Fun factor, also known as “Yippy Level“, is simply a value placed on how well all of the other categories work together to help the player not regret installing the game. A fun game can overcome many flaws that might otherwise ruin the experience. That causes the Fun Factor to be a make or break category for many gamers, and as such we can assure you that this category will always be treated with the utmost seriousness.
If you haven’t already guessed, this category is near and dear to our hearts. The replay factor is simple. After you’ve played a game from beginning to end, could you conceivably return to that title and still have fun, or will you be forced to realize how many other things $60 can pay for?
Many things can influence this, such as multiple endings, side content, multiple character classes that affect gameplay, moral choices, and on, and on, and on. Multi-player aspects can also factor in, but the weight that they add to replay value will vary from game to game.
FIRST LOOK REVIEWS
A First Look Review is a more causal, un-scored review. Usually, the reviewer will just give their first impressions of a game without going too in depth. As these reviews are almost always based on a short amount of gameplay (30 minutes to an hour before writing or recording), a closer look might reveal that aspects are better or worse that the impression given in the First Look.
One last note on game reviews in general, whether you get them here, or from some other equal, yet somehow less awesome source. Reviewing is not an exact science. No matter the reasons used as justification, scores are nothing more than an informed opinion. Whether you, our dear readers and viewers, agree or disagree, we’d love to read your take on our reviews. The gaming community is as vast & varied as it is dashing & sexy, and here, there is room for all.
For more information on how reviews are conducted, please consult our REVIEW POLICY.