Last Modified: January 2016
Video game reviews, like most things in life, are subjective; but here at Senshudo we try to keep things as honest as possible with you, the gamer, at the heart of it all. Naturally, we all have our opinions, but here’s how we actually work out those scores.
At Senshudo we believe that every game should stand upon its own merits, and so we have to approach every review differently. Certain games rely on certain aspects more than others; whereas a gripping plot may be a necessity in certain genres, in others the gameplay is the more prominent aspect, and we aim for our reviews to reflect this.
As such, each game is rated on four individual facets, as follows:
The story can be a driving factor in games, but can also be a huge downfall if done incorrectly. Does the storyline make sense? Was it deep and thrilling, or thin and sketchy? Most importantly, what impact did this have on the game? A high story score means we feel that the game got it right and created an enjoyable, engaging experience for the gamer. A low score, conversely, usually means the story was either convoluted, weakly presented, or made no real impact on the game at all.
Note: Not all games have a core storyline to follow (examples would include Team Fortress 2, Tetris, Animal Crossing). In this instance, the game would receive a Story Rating of 0, but this will not affect the game’s Overall Rating..
In most cases, gameplay is arguably the most important facet of a game. After all, they’re called video games for a reason, and if it’s not fun to play, do you really want to waste your hard earned cash on it? A high gameplay score means we feel that the game was good fun and achieved what it set out to do in whatever capacity best suits it: a first person shooter with good AI and decent weapon mechanics would get a high score; a fighting game with unresponsive controls or dull mechanics, however, would receive a low score.
Unlike Gameplay, graphics are arguably the icing on the cake when it comes to gaming, in that some of the timeless classics were achieved on machines more basic than the average modern blender. As such, at Senshudo, we look at the graphics in the context of the game and its platform. A Nintendo 3DS game with a high graphics rating may not look as pretty as an Xbox One game with a mediocre score, but we felt that the graphics were impressive considering the platforms limitation and that they genuinely enhanced the gaming experience rather than hindering it behind clipping, low framerates and graphical fuzz. Also, we take into account the thematic style of the game when it comes to Graphic Rating. For example, the game may be designed in a “16-Bit/Retro” style but this will be taken into consideration and will be rated favourably if this enhances the game’s enjoyment.
There is no hard and fast calculation on how the three facets above come together to form an overall rating. As previously stated, at Senshudo, we believe every game should be rated solely upon its own merits. In some games, such as puzzle games, the graphics and story aren’t as important as the gameplay (although they should still aim to enhance the experience rather than hinder it), whereas in a traditional RPG, the storyline and graphics are likely to have a larger effect on the cinematic experience offered by the game. As such, the overall rating is how we feel the game stands up on its own.
Why do we use decimal points in our rating system?
In short, we believe it allows us to rate a game more honestly. If we didn’t use decimals, then there’s very little to differentiate a score of 7 from a score of 8. By introducing decimals, we add a lot more differentiation. A game may be more enjoyable than the standard we set for a 7, but it may not be quite at the standard we’d set an 8 at.
How do we decide who reviews each game?
Every member of our team of staff brings something different to the table; each of us has come from a different gaming background, and we vehemently believe that our differences make us stronger. As such, when the opportunity arises to review a game, we usually don’t have to decide, either one of us has stepped willingly into the breach, or it’s blatantly obvious to us as a team who would be able to give the most accurate and honest review of the title in question. If it’s not immediately obvious, we discuss it as a team at such length that it becomes obvious.
Do we all agree on a review score before posting it?
Simply put, no. That would undermine our trust in each other and the entire ethical stance we take on reviewing games. The reviewer is someone whom the entire team trusts to give the best and most honest review of the game; and believe us, some of us have such wildly different opinions that if we did put each score to some kind of voting system, you’d probably only see one or two reviews per year. Again, we believe this diversity is one of Senshudo’s greatest assets – the more weapons in the arsenal, and all that jazz.
However, should a particular score on a game be widely disputed, then we may act to have a discussion surrounding the issue and see how this rating was determined. This is quite a rare occurrence and would only happen if there was something wildly out of whack.
Do we ever change your review scores after its initial release?
Again, no. Firstly, we don’t believe that anyone who has read a review is particularly likely to keep checking back on it on the off-chance it changes. Secondly, the review was written about a specific game at a specific time. Should a game receive any significant alterations post-release, it’s far more likely we’d have an article covering those changes and reviewing whether those improve upon the game or not, rather than editing a previous article.
We have adverts on our website, do advertisers have any impact on the review scores?
No. Never. Under no circumstances… just no. Why would you even ask? I’m hurt.
Seriously though, it must be stated that absolutely nothing has any impact on our review scores other than the quality and enjoyment of the game in question. We have contacts within the business, naturally (that comes with the territory) but we have never, and will never, doctor our reviews for any form of gain, financial or otherwise, and we’re not afraid of upsetting developers with an honest review either.