*The thoughts on the games contained herein are the writers opinion alone, and may not reflect the views of the reader. A bad game is subjective, so please keep that in mind when reading this.
Last year I was given the opportunity to write game reviews for a website. After my first review was looked over, which was on Sonic Forces, I started to receive review copies of games to write about. Any game that was offered to me I would snap up to try to get my name out there as much as possible.
Because of this, a lot of bad games would come my way. As I was just starting and had never written a review past my Sonic Forces one, the good stuff would rightly go to the people more proven than I, while I reviewed games like Red Game Without a Great Name. While I didn’t dislike that game in particular, it was a mobile port that didn’t fit on the Switch.
Mobile ports are something you will see a lot of when starting off. That isn’t a bad thing necessarily, as they are generally short and easy to write about. The problem mainly lies with the higher chance of getting a poor title amongst those, with publishers eager to get their games into the lucrative and booming Switch indie scene.
When you get lumped with reviewing a bad game, it can seem like a daunting task. For starters, you have to grind through a game you most likely would have put down almost immediately. Frustration at a game that doesn’t seem to respect your time is natural, but how do you write about it? You are aware that people likely worked hard on the game, so you don’t want to be disrespectful of their efforts, but if you are too lenient in your wording you may accidentally mislead someone who reads your review.
And that’s where I come down on how to handle a bad game, I am beholden to the people reading my thoughts on games. I want anyone who reads my reviews to know that I won’t hold back if there is something I don’t like about it. Being nice comes second to that, but if the game respects my time then I will respect it in kind, as seen in my Dimension Drive review. There was clearly a lot of time and effort put into that game, so I tried my best to put forth my thoughts on that game in a respectful way.
If you want an example of how I handle a game that doesn’t seem to respect your time, take a look at my Energy Invasion review. My frustration with having to play that game seeps out of every part of that write up. I didn’t pull any punches, as it seemed it wasn’t pulling any on me. That said, I don’t just rip on the game blindly. I talk at length about what doesn’t work with that game, making sure everyone who reads it knows why they should maybe avoid it.
It can be tempting to put as little time as possible into a review of a game like that, and I have seen many reviewers fall into that trapping, but I feel that’s not respectful to the reader. The reader should walk away with as much information as possible, especially if it is bad. If you write something short, they may still think that there’s a possibility that you just didn’t like that style of game, or that the few faults you listed don’t sound too bad. With a deep dive into what about a game doesn’t work, you can be sure that anyone who reads it will be walking away fully aware of what they could be getting into if they do decide to purchase it.
Hopefully this has been a good insight into one of the aspects of writing about video games, at least in the beginning. I am still improving my writing, so how I handle these types of games has changed over time, and will continue to develop with experience. We all have to prove ourselves before we get to review the big titles, be it for the sites you write for, or the publishers who distribute the review copies. In the end, if you love writing about and looking at games critically, then covering the occasional bad game is more than worth it.