Review Philosophy ▼
I've long wanted to get granular over what constitutes a high and a low score in my mind and I've decided to write it out for my sixth Backloggiversy. Much like school grades, I assign a number and a letter, with the letters corresponding to the number of stars (5 stars = A, 4 stars = B, etc.) While I believe in gradients, something I do NOT use is half stars; I feel the stars themselves represent geometric levels of quality and you either earn all of one or not.
I judge games both on various subjective measures. Gameplay is the most important component and the quality of the narrative is typically second (if the game uses narrative); beginnings and especially endings also factor heavily. Originality, variety and aesthetic considerations are also judged, usually in that order.
I feel that reviews scores are, ultimately, reflections of opinions. There's no objective critique and I mean no offense to anyone with these scores – everyone is allowed their own opinion.
It's worth noting that 3 stars is not a "positive" score. While I don't see games in that category as flat out bad, they're mostly missable or inessential. They're so-so games that I would never recommend without caveats.
(Co-op) - Games where playing co-op feels like an essential part of the experience will be marked as such.
A++ = 100 - 95 (10): While this might seem like a generous range for the highest honor, I've played maybe 20 games in my life that I would grade this highly. While not "perfect", I feel these games are groundbreaking, refined and outstanding in multiple ways.
A+ = 94 - 91: Exceptional games that are a cut above everything else, lacking in a only a seminal quality that makes up the top grade.
A = 90 - 87 (9): I prefer the PCGamer grade system that awards Editor's Choice awards down to 87. Typically, these are solid games with a bit of that “je ne sais quoi” defining the subjective highest grade.
B++ = 86 (8): The Silver Award (S) is given to games that I think do most everything well, but lack a “spark” in the experience necessary for 5 stars or have a noticeable flaw holding it back from true excellence.
B+ = 85-83: Very well put together games on the whole, however they never stand out enough to really ever be considered for 5 stars, unlike B++ games.
B = 82-77: Solid and enjoyable games that are typically not very original or noticeably flawed to be considered truly top tier.
B- = 76-70 (7): Usually a good game with some niggling ongoing complaints.
C+ = 69-60 (6): Good games that I'm typically disappointed in some significant way. Be it a flaw in originality or variety, it's enough to bump it down to 3 stars.
C = 59-55 (5): Perfectly alright games, there's just not anything to really recommend them.
C- = 54-50: There's typically some alright ideas in the game, but that usually just makes it better than bad, not particularly good.
D+ = 49-40 (4): Nothing stands out about these games and they're typically too flawed for me to recommend under any circumstance.
D = 39-35 (3): Games that are dull, boring, repetitive and offer little fun but are not completely incompetent on the technical side usually come up here.
D- = 34-30: These games typically have one element holding them up for the abyss and are otherwise pretty bad.
E = 29 – 20 (2): The “Lead Medal” award – I was originality going to make this score range part of the “2 Star” category but thought better of it. While these games generally have some decent elements to them, I loathed my time with them.
E- = 19 – 10: Getting down to this level usually means obvious technical failings. The only nice thing that can usually be said is, “At least it's not Metal Mech.”
E-- = 09 – 00 (1): The Metal Mech score. Terrible looking, sounding, and playing - no fun at all.