I’ve thought long and hard about how to distill our impressions of a game into a metric. In the end I decided on a 1-100 score unrestrained by specific criteria (such as “graphics” or “sound”). The score reflects how much you’ll enjoy the game and how well the game fulfilled its own mission (based on its marketing). This way I can reasonably give The Witcher 3 (a fantastic, super polished AAA game) a similar score as FTL (a fantastic, sparse indie game with pixel graphics). One game required hundreds of people to work for a few years and that should be acknowledged without penalizing the smaller game.
After doing some reviews I’ve also decided not to include price/value in the final equation. It’s simply impossible for me to know how frugal you are and to try and factor that in. I’ll always mention it in the text when a game is particularly expensive for the playing time but I won’t penalize points. I find value odd anyway. $40 for a light movie outing is ok but $40 for an indie game that will give hundreds of hours of entertainment is too much? Too arbitrary to quantify.
What the Score Means
90-100: Everyone should buy this game. Young, old, gamer or noob. A game so good it’s worth any investment of time to enjoy. Genre, subject and cost do not matter.
80-89: A superb example of its genre. Anyone with even a passing interest should get it, as should anyone wanting to try a new genre for the first time.
70-79: Solid genre game. Fans of the topic should buy, others can find better examples to start with.
60-69: Decent journeyman game. Has enough positive to waste time with if nothing better is available. Unlikely to draw in non-fans.
50-59: Playable but deficient experience or execution. Might have one or two ideas/mechanics worth exploring but you’ll have to slog through a lot of unfun to get there. For the connoisseurs and the truly bored.
30-49: Just a bad but functional game. Move along.
< 29: Shit.
How We Pick the Games to Review
I (the editor) refresh a bunch of sources all day long looking for games that fit the site’s niche. When I see one I put it on a channel on our team’s discord group. I also add it to a spreadsheet all the writers have access to.
The writers then just pick. I like if they choose one game ahead of what they’re playing so I have a chance to get a key, but if they’re ready to play then we buy the game and off they go.
Occasionally I’ll specifically ask for a volunteer for a game, if I really feel the site should cover it and no one had claimed it. But that’s pretty rare since the enough of the writers share my tastes.
We absolutely have a bias; it’s the raison d’etre of this site. More than anything we like playing in rational worlds. They can be fantastic and magical, we love RPGs and are awesome at suspending our disbelief. But they should make sense according to whatever internal logic they put forth and unless a reason is given (magic, wacky physics, food that cures missing limbs), things should react like they would in the real world.
Broadly speaking I agree with Sid Meier that games should be a series of interesting choices. That can range from the monumental decision to help the elves instead of humans in a global conflict to the minute second-to-second decision of when to send in your last cavalry to try and turn a loss into a rout. As long as they’re interesting.
Beyond that we really care about enjoying the game for most of the time playing it. We frown on grind, repetition and arbitrary difficulty. We care less about technical aspects. Most of the games covered are not demanding and we don’t have the time or inclination to delve into frame rates and deficient FOVs. If the game plays well on a decent two-year old gaming PC that’s good enough.