Erik Twice’s Score system
All my reviews have a rating attached to them. I give each game a score from zero to five stars as an indicator of my opinion on them. These ratings are not meant to be the final word but a tool to understand where games fall in comparison to one another. Here’s what they mean:
★★★★★ Five stars, the best of the best. These games show what can be achieved in our art form. They are unique, thought-provoking and extremely well executed. This does not mean they are perfect or that I would recommend them to everyone, only that the reasons for their excellence are many and varied.
Example: Dune, which deploys dozens of brilliant, groundbreaking mechanics in the service of a deeply thematic experience.
★★★★ Four star games are brilliant. There’s something about them that makes them rise above their competition. Perhaps they have groundbreaking features or an unusual narrative. Despite having some imperfections, they stand out and make a name for themselves.
Example: Battlestar Galactica may be wonky at parts, but its combination of cooperative gameplay and long-term treachery make it a genre classic.
★★★ Three stars are good. Not necessarily great, but still good. There’s nothing wrong with games in this category, I’m just not driven to them. A lack of ambition, moderate flaws or being too much like other games are the most common reasons behind this rating.
Example: Riftforce, a sharp card battler whose main fault is being rather plain.
★★ Two stars means flawed. Games in this category have flaws that outweigh their positives. Sometimes, they have great potential, but the overall design isn’t up to par. Other times, they work well, but don’t have much interest in them. They might be worth playing, often flawed games are unique, but they remain flawed throughout.
Example: Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, a politically brilliant game sadly burdened by micromanagement and poor balance.
★ One star is a problem. Whatever positives the game might have, they are few and outnumbered by more pressing concerns. Serious mechanical defects, balance problems or a pronounced lack of ambition are some of the most common reasons why a game might be placed in this category.
Example: Blood Rage, which I wanted to like but didn’t give me a single good match in all the time I spent with it.
– It’s possible not to score any stars at all. A game can lack enough interest or suffer from such deep-rooted flaws that I can’t think of a good reason to play it. This is a rare occurrence, but it can happen and it’s important to recognize when it does.
Example: Deep Sea Adventure could have been a fun game, but the way one player can prevent the entire table from scoring breaks it.
Don’t give ratings too much importance. I use review scores to help you know what to read. They aren’t meant to replace the actual review! They are mostly a classification tool, a quick way of summarizing my opinion. They are fairly broad, too. Since I don’t use half-stars, the same rating can apply to games of slightly different quality.
What matters the most is that I view games as an art form. I don’t value them for their technological capabilities, their production values or just because they work. To me games are like film, music or literature. I want them to provide challenging ideas, riotous entertainment and interesting aesthetics.
Lastly, price is rarely a factor in my reviews. Whether the game is a “good purchase” is up to you to decide. All I can do is share my own opinion. Hopefully, it will be one you find insightful and enjoy.