Higher Plain Games wants to layout its review policy in advance as since the site uses a numerical scale and a single word description, providing more detail will make things more transparent. Being transparent and honest is a cornerstone of what Simon and the Higher Plain Network wants to provide. If you do have any questions, you are welcome to get in touch for further clarification.
What matters to me when I review a game?
When I review a game, I rate a game higher if it makes me feel something. That could be fun, happiness, joy, panic or an emotional wreck – sometimes all of these! This is highly individual and so that makes scoring a game a 7 and not an 8 for example is not an exact science. It is one of feeling and connection. I recommend watching the video below where I explain this in more detail if you are interested.
The 10 point scale
Higher Plain Games rates games on a 0-10 scale with half points in between. It has become a long-lasting meme that some 7/10’s are more 7/10’s than others, which is why I’ve included the half points.
10 – Masterpiece
These are games that are the cream of the crop. They either are the best at what they do or evoke such a strong emotional bond or player connection that they refuse to leave your thoughts for weeks or months afterwards. You only get a couple of these a year in my opinion and often the difference between a 9 and a 10 is a deeply personal one. Defend them with your life!
9 – Excellent
These games are absolutely stunning and would be part of your go-to selection when recommending or playing games of that genre. You’d even recommend them to everyone as a ‘you might not like these games normally but seriously give this a try!’ Often these will be your quoted bastions of their type and give you rose-tinted vision each time you play.
8 – Great
These games are absolutely great examples of games that work and provide either great fun, a great experience or a great feeling when playing them. They’ll be games you’ll go to often and return back to with fondness. They might not be the first game that comes to your mind for ultimate recommendations but each 8/10 deserves to be loved and appreciated… and played to death.
7 – Good
I’ve debated over whether good actually sounds good enough for a 7/10? These games will have a couple of flaws or be slightly rough around the edges but still provide a good experience. It may just be that it either has a couple of weird gameplay quirks, be lacking a little in scope or not have the powerhouse performance or pull off what it wants to do quite perfectly. A good 7 can still be a cult classic and be good enough to be a huge fan of. Don’t underestimate them.
6 – Fine
When a game is fine, it means that there is more good than bad but that it hasn’t really gotten its teeth into me. It may be technically fine or have functional gameplay mechanics but it lacks something and you notice it. It may be missed opportunities, it may be some really clunky design decisions. These are really tentative recommendations and will likely be for genre fans.
5 – So-So
I nearly called this ‘meh’. A 5/10 is a game that I am utterly indifferent to. Often these games are technically rough or have really skewed gameplay that frustrates, bores or doesn’t engage me. These are risky to recommend as the game may only have a few things to shout about but you may find something that piques your interest.
4 – Poor
Now we’re in the more-bad-than-good category. Often a poor game has some fundamental flaws in game design and/or a lot of technical issues that hinder gameplay. The annoying thing about being just poor is that there may have been some good ideas in there somewhere but the game doesn’t pull through. That makes the 4/10’s the saddest score of them all.
3 – Bad
A bad game for me means the gameplay makes me want to switch off. It may be the game is not fun, badly implemented or full of bugs that makes the game fall apart.
2 – Terrible
At this point, a game needs to be technically incapable of actually doing what it says it can do in the blurb. Examples here are games that constantly crash, games released broken/with missing parts that should be back in Early Access and games that fundamentally cannot be played properly. You have to really go some to be this terrible but…
1 – Horrific
Some games simple should not be shipped and whilst its rare, a 1/10 can be justified if this is the case. Game breaking bugs where a game can’t be finished, a technical mess and completely unplayable experiences. You usually only get a few of these a year that are truly 1/10’s but its a momentous disaster if it has happened.
0 – Avoid
I’ve never awarded a 0/10 but it reminds me of the old PlayStation magazine I used to buy when they said the games’ CD would be better used as a coaster. Avoid, avoid, avoid. Curiosity killed the NPC.
Re-reviews for games with significant patches or moving out of Early Access
It is not very often that I’ll review a game again that has released and had patches unless it adds significant additional modes or huge gameplay fixes. When reviewing an Early Access title, once it has been reviewed, I’ll probably not return to re-review it until it leaves Early Access. Any Early Access written review will contain the version number where possible so you’ll know if the review is still relevant.