Video game review scores are broken. This is why I’m inventing my own system.

There has been a lot of discussion in the world of video games journalism about review scores and how they often don’t encapsulate what a game is really about and how good it is. Many a games podcast I have listened to in the last few years has talked about this problem and how different publications have tried to solve this. It is often lamented that technical aspects make up too much of the score and that in many a scale that goes from 1% to 100%, only, at most, the top half of the scale (50% to about 98%) is ever used.

I’ve often thought about this problem. I don’t think doing away with review scores completely is a useful solution. People like TL;DRs – they like that a quick glimpse lets them get an overview and a basis for deciding if reading the whole review is something they need to do at this point in time. I therefore think a new approach to video game review scores has value and I’ve tried to come up with a system of my own. I plan to use it for my review of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which I plan on writing very soon. I call my invention the ƒΛḄ Score.

The ⒻⒶⒷ Score is made up out of three separate scores. The first one of those, which is most important, is weighted out of 50 possible points. The other two are 25 points each. Together, they make a total score out of 100 possible points.

ƒ – Fun

This is the most important aspect of a video game and easiest of all to explain. All other things being equal, how much fun is it actually to play? The Fun score tells you exactly this. Since most of us play games to have fun, this score is weighted as being twice as important as the other two sub scores.

Λ – Artistry

Artistry is all about how polished a game is. Depending on the game in question, this can take many forms. A few examples are graphics, storytelling, incidental writing, accompanying art or even the game’s user interface. This is an important part for many people, but by itself it seldomly makes a truely great game.

Ḅ – Boldness

This last sub score is especially important to me. It captures how much a game has faith in itself and manages to break out of established norms. Is it willing to brace a vicious shitstorm on Twitter to bring a point across that is important to its developers? Does it make a stand with a widely unpopular opinion or game mechanic that nonetheless makes the game better? Does it do something truely unique or new? In many ways, this is the icing on the cake that elevates a good game to a timeless classic or must-play title.

Total Score

Together, these facets make a total score of 100 points that can be read like a traditional percentage score à la PC Gamer. Careful, though! I don’t give a rat’s ass about Metacritic and plan to use the full spectrum of points available to me.

This means that a horrible game will get somewhere between 0 to 10, a bad game 10 to 30 points and mediocre games 30 to 50 points. An average game would probably get 50 to 60 points with this system. Everything above 60 points would be good, with games above 70 points likely being classed as excellent. Very, very rarely I’d probably hand out more than 90 points – to get this ultimate achievement, we’re talking game of the decade or at least game of the year.

Header image credit: Miguel A. Amutio