Game-Wisdom is a bit different from other sites and that flows into my review style, because of that I wanted to make a quick page detailing how I critique games.
1. Review Focus
I prefer games that feature great game design; either those that are unique and never before seen, or examples of polish/elevated design. Story and aesthetics are less important to me and I prefer a great game with a poor story, versus a game with an amazing story and poor gameplay. This is why I tend not to review narrative heavy titles like text adventures or visual novels.
To me, a great game is something that you can jump into without needing to watch a five hour video or read a 200 page manual, but there is depth for people who want to find it and explore the game design. I prefer to play games that have a challenge to them and will typically play titles at higher than normal difficulty.
On the subject of abstraction vs. action, I do prefer games that favor player skill like action games, but I do enjoy RPGs for the tactical gameplay. Controls and UI are a big part of what I look at to critique a game; if your game doesn’t control well or is confusing to play, I’m going to mark it down for that. A good sign that a game is not going to do well here is if you have to use the phrase “The real game starts at X” to describe it.
2. Preferred Genres
I play a lot of video games obviously, but there are some genres that I just can’t get into or enjoy that much, hence why I don’t review or talk about them on the site.
Sports and simulator based games are first; that includes games like the EA Sports lineup and all the X Simulators that have been springing up lately. MMOs are another big one, with exception to a rare few I’m not a fan of the design. I already mentioned visual novels and narrative heavy titles above. Free to play games both mobile and on the PC also fall on this list with rare exception.
One genre that may really surprise you is that I’m not a fan of sandbox games like Minecraft or even The Sims. That reason is very long and too big to talk about on this page; let’s just leave it at the fact that they just don’t work for me.
That’s it for now, but I do reserve this space to add any more that come to mind over time.
3. No Scores
I hate scores in video game reviews, because it seems like such an abstract way to dictate a game’s quality. With exception to major companies like Blizzard and Nintendo, a lot of the games I really like fall into the 70-80% according to metacritic. I find that arbitrarily setting a number devalues the review and the thoughts of the reviewer.
A good review should be able to explain the thoughts of the reviewer without having to tie the whole thing up with a number score at the end, or having to re-review a game. Generally my reviews are one and done because I focus on gameplay above the other elements and most games don’t radically change that much in a title’s lifespan.
I do analyze early access games on the site, but I mark those as “spotlights” as it’s not fair to review a title that isn’t done with the same scrutiny as a retail game. However once a game is out and I’ve reviewed it, I will generally not do a second review even if the game is changed dramatically through patches, because if a game changes that much between retail and updates, then something was screwed up during development.
4. on Mature Content
I’ve developed a thick skin over the years and no matter how disturbing a game is, I can usually handle it. With that said, I don’t normally tend to gravitate towards games with extreme violence for the only reason to be edgy (Hatred,) or games where the goal is having sex (Dating Sims.) The reason is that they just don’t interest me and that goes back to my focus on game design and gameplay over all else.
I try to keep my reviews PG 13 whenever possible, even when I’m reviewing M Rated games; that way I don’t have to worry about setting an age limit for the site. Images may show violence, but I avoid graphic and sexualized imagery. On the subject of the infamous AO rating, I haven’t heard of a game yet that I would want to review that has earned this rating. If the day comes that I do review something that is AO, I will definitely point that out in the review notes.
5. Acquiring Games:
Games that are reviewed on Game-Wisdom are either purchased by myself or acquired via press copies from the developer. With that said, whether purchased or not, that will not impact how I review a title and the rules set in section one will always apply.