Given that game reviews have accidentally become my most common posts on this site, I wanted to make sure I was doing them as fairly and as well as I possibly could. One part of this, for me, is figuring out how I compare games to each other. While I don’t want to get as granular as using a number or percentage system, as I think that I would then focus too hard on those numbers at the expense of looking at the individual games, I did want to add some kind of structure.
A more general tier or category list, that covers the most likely possible options without forcing reviews into a rigid scale, seemed like the best approach. While this will change in future if I need it to, the table below contains the rough framework that I’ll use for comparing games.
I’ll also keep a running list of games I’ve reviewed in each tier below – consider this post the meta-post for my game reviews!
|Amazing||Games that are so strong in design, gameplay and enjoyment that they offer an excellent experience to many different audiences. Games that are the pinnacle of their genre, or even the inventor of a genre.||Grand Theft Auto V|
|Brilliant||Games that offer a consistently great experience, are finished to a high standard, and have very few weak points.||Spyro Reignited Trilogy|
|Cool||Games that are just “good” – competent and fun, but not extra-special. e.g. games that are technically good but formulaic, or games that are enjoyable but not impactful. The default tier.||Team Sonic Racing|
|Disappointing||Games that had an interesting concept but executed it poorly e.g. technical or design issues made them difficult enjoy to their full potential, or promised features were missing on release. |
Alternately, very generic games that don’t have any new/creative ideas.
|Experimental||Games that are so novel, or so reliant on deconstruction or meta-narrative, that they are polarising. Generally, people who like weird indie games /art games will enjoy them, while people who don’t like them won’t.||Beyond Eyes|
|Failure||Games that offer little or no enjoyment e.g. shovelware. Or, games with such extreme technical flaws that they can’t be played/enjoyed.||Call of Duty Vanguard (Beta)|
Notes and Caveats
- Most of the games I talk about will land in the middle of the table. The Cool tier is essentially the default tier, and is where most generally-good games will live.
- The Failure tier won’t get much use, as if I dislike a game that much I’m probably not going to play it for long enough to write a review.
- Not all indie games or environmental narrative games will be in the Experimental tier, only ones that will have a niche audience even within fans of more unusual games.
- If I review a game that was massively hyped and then released half-finished (Cyberpunk 2077, No Man’s Sky etc), then it will default to Disappointing. Its rating will go up once the game contains everything it was supposed to have on release.
The main driver behind the tier a game ends up in is my personal experience with the game. But because I tend to play and review games years after they’re released, factors like its price, its cultural impact/lifespan, and its performance in comparison to what was promised will have influenced my expectations and knowledge in advance. Examples below:
- GTAV defines the Amazing tier because of how effectively Los Santos works as a reactive, immersive open world. While its not quite one of my favourite games, it’s a massive technical achievement with few major flaws, widespread commercial and critical success, and a long lifespan.
- I initially wanted to put Spyro Reignited Trilogy in the Amazing tier, but that’s partly due to how much I loved the original series. I think that the Brilliant tier is the best place for the reignited trilogy as games in themselves, due to the high standard of the remake and the consistent quality across the three games.
Games by Tier
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Rain On Your Parade
- Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell
- Thomas Was Alone
- Life Is Strange
- Spec Ops: The Line
- The Wolf Among Us
- Coffee Talk
- Two Point Hospital
- The Stanley Parable
- Spyro the Dragon
- Spyro 2 : Gateway to Glimmer
- Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon
- Rock Band 4
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
- Team Sonic Racing
- Tony Hawk’s Project 8
- Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered
- Borderlands : Game Of The Year Edition (2019 version)
- Forza Horizon 4
- Remember Me
- Tales From The Borderlands
- The Touryst
- Tetris Effect Connected
- Kingdom Hearts : Melody of Memory
- Rainbow Six Extraction
- Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands
- Beasts of Maravilla Island