Updated: Feb 19
Before I ever started armchair reviewing games with the fine folk here at Casual Game Critic, I had always wondered, “what’s my scale”? What is the bar/metric/score I would use to grade or degrade the video-games that played out across my TV screen and how could I distill those experiences into an easily digestible number or rating that, for anyone who happened upon my review, could understand and agree with?
When we decided to get this party started and quite literally put our money where our mouths were, review scores were one of the first things we discussed as a group. We wanted to respect our community as much as we respected peoples time and hard-earned money. Video-games can be an expensive past time at the best of times and in an era where, now more than ever, we have so many avenues across the entertainment spectrum, there’s endless choice. Between the dozens of streaming platforms with your Netflix, Disney +, Amazon Prime etc. there’s an equal pull at the heart strings of our wallets for video-games with Xbox Gamepass, PS Now and Google Stadia…kind of (sorry Google).
And even if you decide you want to stick with just one of these, you now have to deal with the crippling indecision of too much to choose from. If you’re back from a long day working (or working from home in this climate) and you just want something to pass the time but not waste time, you want to know what you’re getting into. We’re all victims of comfort food and that applies to entertainment as well. I know I’ll pick re-watching the 90’s X-men cartoon on Disney + over catching up with the rest of the world and finally starting Ozark on Netflix. Even though it’s been recommended countless times, what if I don’t like it? Then that is a waste of time, right?
Yes I mentioned X-Men just to add a screenshot, #sorrynotsorry
OK, So Why Bring This Up?
Well, just as there are so many ways to interact with entertainment, there are many more ways to find out what’s good, which can also be overwhelming. Take the recently released Resident Evil 3 and Final Fantasy VII remakes. Both hotly anticipated by their respective communities and instantly familiar to a general audience. That ticks two decision boxes right there, brand recognition and the implied mark of quality those franchises bring, right? All you have to do is take a quick glance at Metacritic to see both games are worth peoples time but how do you decide, as the consumer, which one suits you? What if a score just isn’t enough, you need details and comparisons! You’ve got X amount to spend this month and here comes indecision rearing its ugly head, surely there’s a way to cut out the middleman and get the answer you need.
As much as the old adage "time is money" goes, the opposite is also true when it comes to games. Your putting cash on the line in the hope you'll be rewarded with a good experience and as we've already discussed, games aren't exactly cheap...
I still can't believe this happened....
Look all joking and extreme exhibit A above aside, you want value. And there must be an objective way to find it. But the truth of it all is, at least from what I can see, there is no objective way to find these answers. I can’t tell you how many times from past experiences that I’ve picked up a game that critically was received quite well, that had all the criteria I needed to make an informed decision, and it still disappointed me and felt like I'd wasted my money. As much as we want to be entertained, art is subjective. I can spout analogies all day but that is the simple truth, it doesn’t fit one box, it’s designed to occupy many.
And that is the inherent value in games. They can spark such intense discussion and passion, a game can appeal to a wide swath of people or a small few at the press of a button. That goes doubly so for game reviews. People can tear each other apart over just the review of a game and it can be equally as frustrating to sift through forums and blogs like ours as people of all types imaginable tell their version of events, the cycle continues I guess. The issue I've come upon is that sticking a number/letter or other value to a product can create as many problems as it might solve.
The Review of the Review about all those Reviews
Then just to add to the above we also have aggregate review sites like Metacritc and Open Critic to round everything up for us, not happy with IGNs take? Or Gamespots? OR OURS!? (first off how dare you..) well thankfully these sites can round everything up for you. Which is great, you can sit back and wait for a day or so til more of your favorite sites have had a chance to upload their thoughts to the cloud and they even have a separate number for user ratings, so you can get community feedback rolled into one. So you tune in ready to be blown away by assurances and....
God DAMN IT!!....
You get slapped with this tonally dissonant bullship. Why can't we all just get along so you can excuse the logical adult side of your brain and buy Battlefield V guilt free!? Starting the whole damn cycle of indecision all over again. Now maybe I'm overthinking things here but whether we admit it or not, we have all wanted someone else to make a decision for us. Or better yet, just reaffirm what we've already told ourselves.
No one wants to be the person that defends X-Men Origins: Wolverine for a week (totally not drawing from life experience...) clinging on to the belief that you spent your time wisely. Pretending it was good because you love the brand. Sometimes things are just bad and accepting that you won't always be entertained will happen, is akin almost, to accepting that death is a part of life (extreme comparison aside). Regardless of how much internet research, forum posting and YouTube personality watching you do beforehand, nope it was just terrible so might as well move on to the next big thing, there is always a bigger fish.
So, What’s the Verdict.... So to Speak…
We don’t do them. Shocking! And I’m sure something you are only finding out about just now. Even among ourselves here, our tastes differ and if we decided to put scores on our reviews it would have flown against the very nature of why we started. To discuss, inform and build a relationship with the people that give us the time of day. To that end when it comes to a review, we leave it open. Play the game if you like, or don’t! Tell us we’re wrong for enjoying Pokémon Ultra Sun or how Final Fantasy XV was a masterpiece, we might not agree but let us know! As long as we respect each other there’s no harm that can come from a discussion about our collectively favorite pastime. Video-games are fun and so too is the water cooler discussion around them.
To sum up, we can only know so much of a thing, experience is the only way we truly can understand. That's as true in life as it is in purchasing a piece of media. There absolutely is a place for review scores and I'll never argue otherwise but I stand by what I write and how I choose to express that write (see what I did there?) for others to see. But what do you guys think? Do you only ever go to one source before buying into a game? Or are there many roads taken? By all means get in touch with us, we're a pretty active bunch on the interwebs and on a personal note, I'd very much like to know.
First image taken from here
Second image taken from here
Third image is just a screenshot....of this...cool?
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