Here at Error! Not Found, we use a 5-point scale to review games. We decided upon the change when we found a 10-point with decimal gradations needlessly precise. All we could want to communicate with an overall grade is featured in these five ratings. This does not mean all games recieving the same score are of the same quality: genre, ambition, and even a reviewer’s mood all play into that kind of ranking, because let’s be honest, we’re all just people.
At Error!, the score is meant as a grounding influence on the text, while the nuance of the argument and the justification of the score lies within. The difference between an 8.25 and an 8.5, to us, is the difference between a single sentence in a closing paragraph. You’re here to read, we’re here to write.
Five-star games (we use caution symbols, but, hey, stars is a widely accepted shorthand) aren’t necessarily beacons of perfection, though we suppose they could be. A five-star game generally represents a “must-buy,” or a game that transcends genre boundaries to be something the reviewer thinks every gamer should play. That’s not foolproof, obviously, as there will always be a five-star game that won’t appeal to everyone (or even most people), but what the reader can be assured of is this: we have given this game the highest praise we can, and we do not take that lightly.
Examples: Persona 4 Golden, Bioshock Infinite, Antichamber
Four-star games are often built well on a sturdy foundation. They are often more than competent, even exemplary, in whichever field the game wishes to focus on. Four-star games are also often crippled in some other area, be it great gameplay with a lame story, or a fascinating narrative experience delivered through unimpressive designs. Some four-star games may be working at their maximum potential, especially if that potential is reserved or slight.
Examples: DmC: Devil May Cry, Metro: Last Light, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Three-star games are often something of a wounded duck. They might be average, through and through: inoffensive with one or two interesting ideas and a good spirit. Or, their quality might be a little more disparate across all its moving pieces. Three-star games have a tendency to, paradoxically, almost always feel either far too homogenized or far too schizophrenic.
Examples: Lollipop Chainsaw, New Super Mario Bros. U, SimCity
Two-star games are either trying hard ineptly, or doing something easy lazily. These games aren’t quite boring, broken, or bad enough to get our lowest rating, but they have serious gameplay, story, design, or even aesthetic issues. This is the part where we’d say that some fans of a two-star game’s genre might like it, but if you really were a fan of the genre, wouldn’t you know better than to play that icky two-star game?
Examples: Lego City Undercover, Crysis 3, The Cave
One-star games are that guy at the bar who claims to have a “really interesting story,” but then it turns out halfway through that he’s drunk and you’re drunk and all you have in common is that you both hate yourselves.
Examples: Resident Evil 6, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Dead Island: Riptide