Game Philosophy: Reviews

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Today’s topic:
Reviews

Reviews, like people should know, should help people understand why a game should or shouldn’t be bought by describing how well the gameplay/story/graphics/whatever are.

That’s simple, right?
Well there are two things that really bother me these days about reviews.

1. Reviewers can’t seem to realize when something is their own fault or the game’s fault.
2. People who read reviewers don’t seem to realize the review is still an OPINION!

Yes, the problem comes from two sides to me.
Technically, the problems boil down to the fact that there’s a personal bias in reviews and don’t seem to cover different people.

Instead of
“The game is pretty dark, so if you want a game that’s simply to have fun, don’t expect characters to cheer up too often, but it will in fact bring quite a deep story for those who appreciate it”
we either get
“The game is way too dark, cheer up, guys!”
or
“The story is so freaking deep, the darkness of the characters are awesome!”

You see, the first is how reviews should be, or at the very least they should mention how the game is supposed to be.

But of course like I said, the problem isn’t just in the reviews themselves.

How DARE they give a good game a score of 8.8! They should be bur-… wait, I thought 8.8 was a good score?

Alright, so the first problem is how reviewers can’t seem to realize what is supposed to be the game’s problem and what is supposed to be the player’s problem.

See, when I play a game and the game shows me I can swing on a rope, it would be my own damn fault for not realizing I have to cut a rope to, I dunno, SWING ON THE ROPE!

It’s not the game’s fault that YOU are too stupid to put two and two together.
It WOULD be the game’s fault if something random comes out of nowhere and leaves you stuck somewhere without teaching you anything to get through it.

That’s not saying games should have tutorials all the time, there are obviously ways to do it without popping up a message and explain to you how to friggin play a game.

That said though, it seems Reviewers don’t have the rights to complain about tutorials, since it’s pretty obvious that most of them NEEDS it.

Like imagine if you go through this little level:

Any guy with a braincell would be able to guess what they should do for the first obstacle. You jump over that little gap. However it does more than tell the obvious, it tells you how far you can jump.

Then you jump over the spikes which while telling you that spikes are bad for your survival also tells you how high you can jump.

Now put two and two together and now you realize “Oh my god! That means I can jump high and far enough to reach that 3rd ledge!” And whaddya know! YOU DO!

Then here comes to oh-so difficult part.

You jump down and realize “Oh, the higher I am, the more distance I can travel while jumping” because of how further the gap is than the previous ones.

But suddenly you see a ledge that’s pretty far.

Now this is what happens with some gamereviewers.

Reviewer: “Oh my god! How was I supposed to figure THAT out?! The level design is way too confusing! 1 Point reduction! Whinewhinewhinewhinewhinewhinewhine!!!!!”

See that’s the problem. They blame it on the game rather than the player’s own brain, because apparently it would hurt their ego too much to admit they didn’t get it.

See a normal functioning brain would unconciously get this in their head:

Hmmm, that’s funny, I can jump further when I have more time to fall down when I compare to how far I got on my previous jump!
Hmmm, if I compare how far I got from the last jump, that ledge is obviously too far to jump to from this height. I’d have to be an idiot to actually jump here.
Oh hey, what if I actually used 1% of my brain and jump on the platform I KNOW I can reach in comparison to the previous high jump?
What if I actually USED what I learned the past 2 minutes and jump from a great height so I can get further, thus REACHING that ledge?

See? The Level Design is fine, it tells you all you need to know and lets you try it out for yourself without any tutorials or text. You don’t need to be a mathematician to figure this out, this all mentally happens within your brain anyway!

But that’s the thing, it seems reviewers NEED to be told this for some reason, which is weird since you’d imagine GAME reviewers to know how to play GAMES. Or are they too focused on shooters these days and can’t figure out stuff more complicated than “Shoot head to kill”?

Now I’m not saying that only reviewers would jump onto those spikes. A bunch of players would probably jump onto them due to inexperience. But the difference is that Reviewers seem to think their opinion matters more than any other gamer because they give a 1 out of 10 score to their opinions, and thus it’s obviously the game’s fault, whereas most gamers would just learn from their mistake and go “Oh duh, why didn’t I figure this out sooner?”

This brings me to the other problem though, gamers who think reviewers know all of their preferences and thus never give a game a chance simply because a reviewer told him that.

This is my response:

See, no matter what a reviewer does, he still writes his own OPINIONS. That means they have the possibility of thinking DIFFERENTLY than you.

Maybe he hates platform games, but you love platform games.
Does that mean you should hate a game because HE says you have to jump around in the game?

I’ve played a lot of games which score 6’s or 7’s, and guess what, most of the time I enjoy them more than the 9 or 10 scored games.

That’s not because I love bad games, it’s because what bothers the reviewer and what bothers me are way different things.

I for example hate it when a main character is a simple blank character for you to fantasize yourself into his/her character, but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand why people DO like it. It’s why the Legend of Zelda series or the Twilight saga are such a succesful franchise. Wait, let me grab an umbrella for the people planning to throw apples at me for comparing those two…

Either way, a good reviewer would take into account the different opinions of gamers in the world. Realizing that they are one of millions of gamers and should keep their bias to a minimum.

Gamers on the other hand should form their own opinion and take reviews as a way to find information about the games, not to have your decision depend solely on the review.

Published by Huy Minh Le

Huy Minh Le is a Video Game Enthusiast, Movie Lover, Writer, Content Marketeer and regular TvTropes reader! His studies in Game Design, Art, and Writing has led to a very creative, yet analytical mind.

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