Since I do game reviews here on Downy Owlbear I thought I’d take a moment to break down how I approach them, what my standards are, and so on.
Types of Game Reviews
I’ve got three types of game reviews I like to do.
A summary review is going to be little more than a paragraph about what the game is and whether I like it or not. Generally, you would see this in a larger article featuring a number of games. I have no real system for doing these.
A Quick game review is pretty much a standard sort of game review. I’ll describe the game, offer my opinion, make a recommendation, and finally give it some kind of score.
In an Analysis, I will look at length at specific game mechanics, themes and other ideas to explore what it’s doing well and where it’s making mistakes.
My Current Rating System
My current system has four categories. My goal is to try and capture some of the unique ways in which games give us pleasure or how they can detract from it. The categories are…
Craftsmanship is my assessment of the overall quality of the game. Did they put loving care into every corner, or is it kind of a slapdash effort. This category is relative to the type of game I’m reviewing. Elements that go into this are bugs, UI design, quality of controls, typos, and so on.
Artistry is the audo-visual component of the game. It’s about the artistry of the sound, graphics, acting, writing and so forth that goes into the game.
Gameplay is my stab at looking at the game mechanics in a game. Is it fun and engaging? Are choices meaningful? Does it hold up to repeated play and so forth.
Innovation is a nod to those brave souls who push the world of gaming forward. Its partly to say that innovation often comes at the cost of other elements. It’s also here to acknowledge that what can make a game great is its innovation. Even if it is later surpassed we will remember it for making all games that come after it so much the better.
I’m scoring between 1 and 5 with 1 representing something close to utter trash, while 5 represents a truly outstanding achievement compared to other games.
I try to take some consideration for the time in which a game was released. Nearly all the categories can be seen as having a moving bar. As more games come out and refinements are made, that which seemed elegant before can be clucky now.
Scores of 3 and 4 are mostly the norm for me. I try to avoid truly awful games and they generally aren’t much worth discussing.
I don’t do a composite score because it’s quite possible for a game to absolutely tank one of the categories says Innovation, and still, be a pretty fabulous experience.