Review scores have long been a topic subject to much debate among the gaming community with some arguing for them and others arguing against. There are valid points on either side, of course. On one hand, one can’t simply summarize the quality of an experience in stars and numbers from 1 to 10 but on the other, there are definitely people out there, or even among you, that prefer to skim a review rather than read it start to finish (after all those hours we spend writing them…for shame!) and see the score tacked on the end in order to get a general idea about the overall quality. Then, of course, there is the issue of score aggregators, such as Metacritic, that rely on quantifiers for their average game score and while opinions are all over the place on that topic as well, one cannot deny its relevance.
You may have noticed (or may notice, if this is your first time visiting us) that while we do submit to the “numbered score at the end” paradigm, we do try to compromise by offering a short breakdown of a game’s pros and cons next to it. Often times it’s hard to accurately quantify a verdict. While unequivocally terrible games we may slam with a low score without hesitation most of us are averse to scoring a game “too low” when it is not that good, but not offensively bad. Each and every game is someone’s or a group of people’s work and effort and we don’t enjoy giving it a low score that may end up hurting those people financially or attracting the animosity of a game’s fans.
There have been cases in recent years, when reviewers were called out because of giving a popular game an allegedly “terrible” score such as an 8, or giving an 8 or 9 to a game perceived as mediocre or bad. On one hand, the gaming press has taken to scoring games on a higher scale in recent years, to avoid losing business, but on the other hand, we do have a duty towards our readers to deliver as honest a review as possible without offending. The scale runs from 1 to 10, so when a game earns a 6 or 7, it may still be enjoyable to you, just lacking in an area or two that you might not even care about.
As a reaction to this, several review outlets have started using Review Score Guides to explain what they mean by each grade (IGN, Polygon and The Jimquisition, to name just a few). We thought this was an excellent idea and bring you our own list which we will strive to use as a guideline in our effort to deliver accurate criticism to you. Without further ado…
10 (Amazing): The 10 has long been misunderstood as the embodiment of perfection. Being the highest grade, it must also be the apex game. The complete experience. This is false and we need not look further than the analogy of the highest grade in a school for example. The 10 is by no means unattainable, but should be reserved for awesome games, and we do mean “awesome” in the biblical sense of “awe-inspiring” rather than the watered down internet equivalent. These are your masterpieces, genre leaders and luminaries.
9 (Excellent): While they may not fall comfortably into the first position, these games come in as a close runner-up. They may not be the embodiment of an entire genre, but they still excel in enough areas to be noteworthy. Odds are very high that you will enjoy these games a lot.
8 (Great): These are the games that we get several of each year, the major releases, the indie darlings, the franchise installments. Games that provide a majority of people with an entertaining experience. The bulk of the gaming community will get quite a bit of fun out of them.
7 (Good): Here we have the titles that come with the “maybe not for everyone” disclaimer. There’s definite praise to go around, but there is also something holding it back, be it accessibility, polish or quality in some department.
6 (Decent): These games won’t win any awards, but they showcase effort and willingness from their makers to create something good. They show occasional glimpses of potential, both striven for and squandered but at the end of they day, they’re just alright.
5 (Unremarkable): Mediocrity is embodied in these games. They are forgettable experiences with nothing to set them apart, nothing to make them stand out. Every bit of them seems phoned in and thrown onto a saturated market in the hopes that someone will bite.
4 (Below Average): Whatever good elements these games may have are quickly overshadowed by the bad. They may have poor quality, a lazy story, technical issues or all of the above. A game we’d strongly advise caution in trying.
3 (Bad): There is something very much amiss here. There is an entire aspect of the experience that renders the whole thing hard to labor through. There may be glaring technical glitches, or something that renders the game nigh-unplayable. This is most likely a waste of your time.
2 (Terrible): This is not so much a bad game as it is a calamity. This irredeemable mess has probably left your reviewer scarred forever in some way. A bit of the author’s sanity belongs to this game now, and he or she went through it just so that you might be spared. Fly, you fools!
1 (Abysmal): In the early 1980s, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial brought down the entire western video game industry and it took years for it to recover. But bad as it might have been, at least it left the rest of civilization intact. The 1s will do no such thing. These are the games that you need to experience first-hand in order to believe how bad it can really get out here. It’s only a matter of time until it comes for your soul anyway.