Among all the forms of art out there, games are easily my favorite. They provide an emotional experience like no other. With movies and books, you’re just an observer into some other tale. But with a game? You’re directly involved in everything that happens. Instead of observing another world, you’re placed directly inside it.
However, it’s this very distinction that makes games more difficult to critique. Their highs are much higher, and their lows much lower. And the factors that go into making them as they are are far more complex than other mediums. For example, whereas a good story can save a movie, TV show or an anime with otherwise lackluster qualities, it cannot do anything to improve a game if, at it’s core, the gameplay is trash.
Not just video games, either. Card games and board games also fall into this category. They’re an experience unlike any other, and as such, are equally difficult to discuss. Hell, maybe even more so. But if there’s one thing I love, it’s a challenge!
As per usual, there are several criteria going into my judgement on games. They go as follows:
- Gameplay: how does it play? Does the fun last, or is it short lived and sweet? Is the gameplay used in a way that invokes certain emotions from the player? If so, how effectively does it do this?
- Visuals: how is it on the eyes? Have they aged? If so, how do they stack up compared to the games from that era? Does the game have a distinct visual style? If so, does it hurt or improve the gameplay?
- Control: does the game control well? How drastically does this affect the game? If it has lacking controls, is the game designed with that in mind, and does it improve or ruin the experience?
- Story: if the game has a focus on story, how is it? Does the game try to be a movie? Do the cutscenes drag on for too long, or are they used creatively to improve the gameplay experience?
- Difficulty: how does the game handle giving the player a challenge? Is the challenge fair while maintaining it’s brutality? Is it hard to learn because of it’s gameplay, or is it simply hard to learn? Either way, does that difficulty add or detract from the fun had playing it?
As always, fun takes top priority. If I had fun playing the game, then I’ll be able to move past my issues with it. Still, just because I had a good time doesn’t mean my criticisms are mute. In fact, the fun makes those flaws stand out even more, as they detract from what could otherwise be a truly amazing game.
So pull up a chair, grab your controller and get ready for a good time! And remember: no Johns! It’s time for Game Night!