Here at Words About Games, our game reviews are very important to us. They are, more often than not, our most viewed items on the site. More than that, our reviews are the backbone of the entire blog – they’re the primary reason that Words About Games exists.
Our reviews are written with objectivity in mind. Of course they’re subjective, all reviews are and it would be foolish to claim or believe otherwise. We strive for objectivity by simply keeping an open mind. We go into any new game with as few preconceptions as possible, with no agenda and no pre-conceived opinions. We simply pick up the game and play it.
Our overriding priority in reviewing video games is to simply tell the truth. If a game is bad, we’ll say so. Likewise if a game is good. Generally games fall somewhere in the middle, and we’ll tell you that too. Our reviews break down what works and what doesn’t work, with the aim to leave you with as many facts about the games we cover as possible.
As with any gaming website, we have relationships with people working within the games industry. We work with publishers and PR, we know and have spoken with developers, and we’re on friendly terms with a lot of people in the industry. As stated above, our overriding priority in our reviews is to tell you the truth, regardless of our personal feelings or relationships with the people who make the games.
We receive many of the games we cover from these relationships with PR, publishers and developers. We will always disclose where we got a game from in our coverage, if it was obtained in this way. And while we do our best to review as much as possible, games are going to be missed. It’s the nature of an industry that puts out so much new content that we simply can’t cover everything.
When we’re playing a game for review we play as much of the game as possible before committing to our final piece. Playing a games story or single-player campaign to completion, and trying all the modes available, is widely encouraged. There are no strict rules in place, however, as they would be impossible to enforce.
There are plenty of games that have no actual ending, online multiplayer games, games based around procedurally generated content, games with hundreds of hours of content, and many other types of games where “completion” is an impossibility. When we commit to reviewing a game the writer will always have extensive knowledge of the game and its mechanics, regardless of how many hours they have put into it.
There are two types of reviews at Words About Games. The first is the traditional written review – the main way we’ve reviewed games here for years. This is a breakdown of the game, its various systems and mechanics and whether it’s generally a good or bad experience, with a score at the end. This review will also come with a companion video on our YouTube channel.
The second is the review discussion – a special topic on the Words About Gamescast where one (or more) reviewers will engage in a brief discussion of the game in question, much like our written reviews. We use these discussions to review games that we haven’t fully played to our own satisfaction, or games that we’re not comfortable passing an “ultimate” verdict on, or sometimes just games where a conversation suits our coverage better than a review. Some of our reviewers are more comfortable using this format, so they may also use review discussions exclusively to review games.
When a game is long or we haven’t had a chance to quickly play it, we may also give you our first impressions. Much like reviews, these will take the form of a written post with an accompanying video or a podcast discussion topic. These are not intended to be final reviews in any way and will not be scored.
Beginning in 2016, we’ve started adding review scores to our written reviews. We’ve been asked why, when many outlets have started abandoning them altogether, are we just now starting to use them?
Review scores are extremely useful when they’re used correctly. They’re a great punctuation mark on a written review, a way to solidify the reviewers thoughts and feelings on the game they’re reviewing, and the ultimate summary to the words that precede it.
They’re also good for a quick glance opinion, without necessarily wading through a long review when time is short. A review score is not a be all and end all, however, and merely serves to compliment the review that it is attached to. After all, there’s no real way to know if a 7/10 is going to appeal to you without knowing what the game is actually like. And it’s the same across the entire scale.
That being said, review scores are completely useless unless the full scale is being used. Thanks in part to Metacritic (where a 75 is considered average) and Steam user reviews (where 83% is the average), the typical review scale has become skewed.
Words About Games uses a true 10-point scale, rating a game from 1-10. There are no half-scores, and the full scale is used at all times. Here at Words About Games a 5/10 is what we consider average. Below you can find a breakdown of our scale, and a short summary of what each number typically means.
Games that receive this score are, of course, exceedingly rare. They’re not perfect, no game is. What they are is exceptional – extremely well made in every way, from the story and gameplay to the graphics and sound design. Games that are awarded a 10 are the best examples of their genre, and are likely pushing the genre in new directions.
Games that are fantastic aren’t quite the best of the best, but they are excellent games in their own right that still deserve to be played by as many people as possible.
If you enjoy the genre or series of a game that scores an 8 then it’s probably a must-buy for you. Even if it’s not it’s still a very, very good game that you should consider.
As mentioned above, 7 is not the average around here. Games that hit this score are generally good games. While there’s nothing massively wrong with them, there may be some small issues that hold them back from the higher end of the scale, while still being good games.
Above Average games are exactly that – above average. They’re not quite good but nowhere near bad. Games that get a 6 are generally average games with one or a few features, moments or modes that let the game stand out.
Average games are exactly as they sound – average. While not bad, games that score a 5 don’t really do anything to stand out whatsoever. Or for everything about them that’s good there’s something that is equally as bad, creating a balance in the final score (like Anakin Skywalker and the force, apparently).
Below average games are the polar opposite of above average games. Games that score a 4 have missed the mark on what they intended. While not outright terrible, it’s here that we start questioning why this game was even released, though absolute diehard fans of the genre of the game in question might find something to love.
Here’s where we start getting into the really bad games. A game with a score of 3 has completely failed, with few if any redeeming features. It’s here where you should consider starting to run away very fast from a game with a score this low, regardless of genre or series.
If a game has a 2 then it’s not the game for you, and is in fact one of the worst games we’ve played. There is absolutely nothing to see here, and you should never even consider picking it up.
This score is a little different to the rest, as it’s more of a category than a formal score. Games with a 1 aren’t just bad, they’re completely unplayable – either from a technical or gameplay standpoint. Plagued with game breaking bugs, terrible gameplay decisions, a horrific story with nonsense dialogue, all of the above, or something else entirely. Do. Not. Pay. Money. For. This.