Over the past few years, gaming journalism and game reviews as a whole have been scrutinized.
With allegations of media outlets being paid for favorable reviews, and other controversies popping up, many gaming sites have begun to move away from writing game reviews and have begun to focus on anything and everything else in the Gaming Industry. I believe that Game Reviews are important; they show readers key elements of gameplay to give valuable data on whether a game is worth your hard earned money.
The key to getting the most out of reading a game review is to study your own gaming habits. Which genres do you enjoy? What is your overall play-style when it comes to various games? Are you a completionist? Are you a hardcore gamer that wants to spend 60+ hours in a game? Or are you a casual gamer that just wants something to kill an hour or two here and there?
All of these questions are important, because by reading reviews you can tell whether a game fits your particular gaming style. This is why even controversial and alternative points of view are so important, because everyone is different and the way a video game is perceived will be different depending on the play-style of those who experience it.
A great example of this is the Dark Souls Franchise. I myself am not a fan because my play-style and the games I enjoy don’t necessarily fit in the Dark Souls mold. Despite this there are many people who adore the Dark Souls games (evidenced by the large number of people streaming it on Twitch on any given day,) and so I know that the series just isn’t for me.
I find that Steam has a great review system, where you can read a large number of user reviews, see different perspectives, and figure out whether a game fits your standards or not. Where this line begins to blur is when you start looking at narrative games like the Telltale series or even things like the critically acclaimed Her Story.
With narrative games, it is difficult to properly review them without spoiling the experience for other players. This is because such a large emphasis is placed on storytelling and on properly delivering the narrative experience, which it is difficult to write about the details without spoiling the whole thing. Another reason this is difficult is the fact that the enjoyment of narrative games are largely subjective. Different people like different story elements, so reading multiple reviews for games like Gone Home or Broken Age becomes greatly necessary so you can understand whether the narrative might appeal to you.
The most important thing whether you are writing a review, or trying to get information out of a review to figure out whether you should buy a game is to be sure that you have a firm grasp on how the game plays, what the focus is, and what sort of mechanics are available. This is especially important if you are differently-abled, as some games have options for colorblind gamers, or should be noted with warnings for players who are prone to seizures.
A thorough review is a good review, and in order to make sure you get the most bang from your buck, product reviews (and game reviews) are necessary no matter how controversial or outrageous they may be. When buying anything, product reviews are important, and Video Games are no different.