So, this week, I was able to finish up four reviews… and I managed to publish the posts in not too much time. Initially, I’d spend 3+ hours on the write-up, editing and formating but as time went on, I was able to narrow down the time needed, partially because of my decision of going for shorter reviews (1k~1.3k words) instead of the longer ones (2k~3k words) – but also because I now have an initial idea of what I want to say and how I want to say. Frankly, I’m getting better at writing up these initial drafts and the hardest part is the beginning portion where I talk about something unrelated or very general to then segway into the actual review. I like that personally though I suck a lot at that portion and I want to get better at it. Something that still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, though, is to just dunk on a game. Initially, I ended up only reviewing good games or games that I just adore that much – but nowadays, I don’t have an opinion on a title before I play it and I certainly don’t try to have an opinion on a title while I write it up. I like getting into the good stuff first before eventually mentioning what is wrong with games… Eventually, I then end up thinking back on whether or not my frustrations with a title outweighed the good portions and whether or not I can recommend a title in the process… and at last, I will then have to change the initial portion of the game to reflect that outcome which leads to a few annoying issues here and there. But today, I actually wanted to talk about negative reviews and my stance on them.
The other day, I talked with my better half about reviews and about not recommending something. Since I still make an effort to portray the good sides well while also getting into the bad sides of a game, I try to stay “relatively neutral” but in the end, it comes down to “Do I recommend this or not?” – an important questions. I don’t do scores because scores say nothing relatively speaking… and you can’t really compare games by giving each of them scores and then comparing the scores, so I don’t see the point. Recommending one title and not recommending the other, however, works a lot better. My better half was confused that I’d write about games that I don’t like in the first place. Apparently, a lot of people don’t do that… but if you only write about games that you like and if you only recommend things, then that reduces the value of you as a reviewer, at least in my opinion. If a food critic would give everything five stars, then that critic’s opinion would mean a lot less, right?
But yeah, you could make the point that nobody checks my blog for every single review… but that’s mostly because I don’t have a visual indicator on my reviews that immediately shows you that I recommend a game or that I don’t recommend a game. Meanwhile, Steam’s curator pages (here’s mine btw) have that indicator! Blue is recommended. Red is not recommended. Yellow is “neutral” or informative. You can see right away what titles I liked or didn’t like! And when I see a curator on steam that has no negative reviews, then I trust that curator less.
In the case of Superliminal (my review), I actually liked the game but the fiddliness and the technical issues ruined the experience for me at times, which made the game overall frustrating. I loved the concept but hated the finished product if that makes sense. That’s also why I hate it when reviewers recommend a finished game just because the demo was great. The demo is there so that you get interested in the finished product. In the case of Tunche, PC Gamer said “while I was drawn to Tunche’s GDC demo by its unique, refreshing art, it was the combat that really set the hook” – But the Steam page omits the part about the demo, simply saying “While I was drawn to Tunche…” which is frankly false advertising and sketchy at best. The demo obviously featured unique and beautiful skills but the actual game has you grinding a whole lot to get to that point, as I pointed out in my review. That kind of pisses me off, to be fair. I only realised that after the review was published but I don’t want to give the game a bad rep just because the publisher or whoever decided to falsely advertise the game.
What I was trying to say is that – in my opinion (very important!) – you lose credibility as a curator/reviewer if you only recommend things but never review anything that you could potentially dislike. I turned down games before, don’t get me wrong, but in those cases, I had hardly anything to write about and it was just that bad. In those cases, I was being polite and sent the developer my feedback and told them that I didn’t want to just shit on the game for 500 words and leave it at that. There are games that I really love, like Party Hard (my review), but there are a lot of frustrating bits in those games that make it hard to recommend them and as time went on, I tried to position myself accordingly. No matter how much I love a game as a concept, I try “to be real” as the youngsters say (do they really say that?). Uh, in essence, I find it tricky to just recommend everything, so I try to review games that I may not like as well and I end up playing platformers, for instance, or shooters and weirdly, some of them are really good. If I’d just go for games I love, I’d only recommend roguelike games or strategy games or RPGs or casual simulations or stuff like that – and even then, not all games in those genres are as fun as others. Neon Abyss, for instance, looked fun as a concept but I can’t really get into it for no particular reason. Once I know what that reason is, I may pick it up again from a different angle or I may just write about why I don’t like it. Still, it’s a roguelike, eh?
What I’m trying to say is really just my opinion on the matter and I don’t think that other people should change the way they do things in the reviewer community. Really, it’s just my own motto: “Review games even if you may not like them. Don’t just recommend everything.” or something like that. Blogging and reviewing stuff is a hobby for me but I try to be relatively serious about it. I want to get better at it and I want to provide good reviews and recommend gems while not recommending things that are no fun. So, I kind of ended up creating those values of sorts in my head and I stick to them, change stuff out all the time, and revamp my style and in my head, I just don’t trust the opinion of someone on Amazon that gives every product five stars, so I try to apply that to my blog and reviews. If I were to recommend everything, every single review of mine would lose credibility, so I try to not silence myself. If I don’t like something, I’ll talk about it. If I really enjoy something, I will, too. If a game falsely advertises itself, then I get pissed off at it, but that’s usually not the developers’ fault and I try to not let it influence my opinion. Oh well, I just figured I could talk about this today. Hope you enjoyed this one.