How to Compose a Meaningful Review in Gamestar Mechanic

When writing a review of someone else’s game in Gamestar Mechanic, first and foremost make your review meaningful. The designer should be able to find value in your review, whether by way of specific praise or constructive criticism — or both.

Never let your own standards as a designer or player corrupt your review. Try not to compare the game you’re reviewing to your own work when judging it. And don’t give a game a low rating if it’s too easy or too difficult (unless it’s legitimately trivial or impossible to complete).

The following steps provide a useful and versatile method of building reviews, whether they’re detailed or brief, in a way that’s meaningful to the designer:

1Select a star rating.

The star rating measures how much you like the game. You should rate a game with only one star if you can’t find anything you like about it; you should rate the game with five stars if it’s fun and complete and has only minor problems. The other star ratings should fall somewhere between these two ends of the spectrum, with three stars indicating that the game has good concepts but lots of room for improvement.

2Select a difficulty rating.

The difficulty (or gear) rating measures how difficult you found the game. Rate a game with only one gear if it was trivially easy, and rate it with five gears if it was quite difficult and required your best effort (even if you weren’t able to win). Like star ratings, the other gear ratings should fall somewhere in the middle, with three gears indicating that the game posed a recognizable challenge.

3Write out your general reaction.

Try to start with a positive statement. If you give the game a low rating, you can make a generally constructive statement, such as, “This is a great idea, though the gameplay could be improved” or “Very nice start,” leading into more specific feedback. This part of your review should be fairly short.

4Say what you specifically like about the game.

Positive feedback isn’t meaningful unless it’s specific. Focused praise makes positive feedback much more appreciable, and helps designers understand what makes their games enjoyable in practice. Pick out an element of the game that you enjoyed, and write about it.

5Provide constructive criticism, if you can.

If you disliked a part of the game, you can point it out as long as you’re specific about it. Be sure to complete this step constructively, using comments such as, “The last level could be more difficult” rather than “The last level is bad.”

6End on a positive note.

Say something positive at the end of the review. This step isn’t as necessary for the Gameplay, Story, and Visuals subsections, if you use them.

7Proofread your review.

Try to avoid repeating words or phrases, and make your writing clear. You don’t have to write an essay for your review (even a couple sentences will do), but be sure to incorporate positivity and meaning.