How We Review Games

Particle Effects reviews are subjective and are rated on a 1 to 5 scale, 5 being the best. Here’s what each of those numbers mean to us:

1: Not worth our time. If we rate a game a 1, it’s weighed down by serious flaws, and there’s very little to redeem it in our eyes. This includes both glitchy messes and abusive pay-to-win games.

2: Disappointing. 2s are built on a faulty foundation. It may have some entertaining aspects, or even the hint of greatness, but something at its core holds it back. 2s aren’t recommended.

3: Average. Games earning 3s are, as expected, somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Maybe the game has a fantastic core concept, but bugs or bloat keep it from greatness. Or perhaps the game didn’t have many obvious flaws, but when we finished, it didn’t stick with us. Either way, a 3 is a game we liked but not one we will go back to soon.

4: Great. 4s know what they’re doing and do it well. 4s are games we enjoyed and would gladly revisit, but lack that x-factor that truly elevates them.

5: Masterpiece. To earn a 5, a game must not only be great, but it has to provide an experience we’ve found nowhere else.

We look at sequels on their own merits. A game that refines its predecessor won’t necessarily score higher if it doesn’t also add to the experience in a meaningful way.

When we review, we consider the game as a complete package, from its themes to its mechanics. What ideas does it present, and does it do anything interesting with them? What assumptions is it built on? Do its mechanics reinforce its themes? How does it treat the player?

Technical elements such as graphics and the soundtrack will only be considered as far as they add or subtract from the rest of the game. We give more credence to a level’s design than its surface beauty, for example. But visuals and sound design that draws us and makes the game world more immersive or believable certainly merits mentioning.

Our reviews may deviate significantly from the norm. PFX staff may agree or disagree with each other. You, the reader, may think we are right on point or way off the mark. And that’s okay! Our reviews are what we personally think of a game and shouldn’t be used to define a “good” or “bad” game. That said, our reviews should explain our experiences well enough that you understand why we rated it as we did, and in doing so should allow you to understand if you’ll think similarly.

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