The Conundrums of When a Review Can be Written

As a reviewer, my job (not an actual job, mind you) is too help consumers make purchase decisions, by telling whether or not a game is good or bad. How we, the reviewers, tend to go about doing this, is by playing the game from start to finish before we write our reviews. As doing so gives us the knowledge to effectively evaluate the game.

I have followed this philosophy ever since I began to review videogames, as reviewing a game without finishing it is like reviewing a movie after watching only half of it -- a horrible move that would not only hurt the quality of your criticism, but your credibility as a critic, too.

But recently I've begun to wonder if it truly necessary to finish a game before writing the review -- even if you had gotten to the very end, only to find out you simply cannot finish it. What do you do in that situation? Do you keep trying in the hopes that you'll achieve victory? Start over, and hope that doing something differently will affect the outcome? Or just write the review based on what you know about the game?

Those are questions I've been asking myself for the past couple days, as I've been placed into that situation.

The game is Knights in the Nightmare. A DS title from Atlus. I have been working my way through it for the past couple weeks with little trouble. But a couple days ago, when I had arrived at the game's final boss, I hit a roadblock: I can't beat it. It is simply beyond my ability.

I have tried multiple times to beat it, but no how close I come to achieving victory, I'm met with defeat at the last second. Leaving me to make a difficult decision: Do I keep trying? Or give up and review it anyway? I've been considering going with the latter option, as I feel I know enough about the game to review it. But, at the same time, I feel shouldn't. As doing so without finishing it, just seems wrong. Which leaves me constantly debating which option I should go with.

As on one hand, I already have all the info needed to write a review, so I can easily write a review like always. And it's not like the ending would have a huge affect on my opinion of the game, right? So why shouldn't I start writing it if I feel I can?

Because that ending sequence could have a big affect on my opinion, but I won't know for sure if I don't finish it. Therefore, writing a review now wouldn't be a good idea, as I still haven't played through all the content yet.

That's basically how it's been going in my head as I debate what the best option is. And while both sides raise good points, I can't simply decide upon one and feel I've made the right decision. As I would love to write a review for the game (simply because I love writing), but I don't think I should without finishing it first.

So basically it's a lose-lose situation. As neither choice is very desirable.

I don't know... Maybe I should just go with the easier option and forget about reviewing it altogether.

Start the Conversation
3 Comments
Posted by c_rakestraw

As a reviewer, my job (not an actual job, mind you) is too help consumers make purchase decisions, by telling whether or not a game is good or bad. How we, the reviewers, tend to go about doing this, is by playing the game from start to finish before we write our reviews. As doing so gives us the knowledge to effectively evaluate the game.

I have followed this philosophy ever since I began to review videogames, as reviewing a game without finishing it is like reviewing a movie after watching only half of it -- a horrible move that would not only hurt the quality of your criticism, but your credibility as a critic, too.

But recently I've begun to wonder if it truly necessary to finish a game before writing the review -- even if you had gotten to the very end, only to find out you simply cannot finish it. What do you do in that situation? Do you keep trying in the hopes that you'll achieve victory? Start over, and hope that doing something differently will affect the outcome? Or just write the review based on what you know about the game?

Those are questions I've been asking myself for the past couple days, as I've been placed into that situation.

The game is Knights in the Nightmare. A DS title from Atlus. I have been working my way through it for the past couple weeks with little trouble. But a couple days ago, when I had arrived at the game's final boss, I hit a roadblock: I can't beat it. It is simply beyond my ability.

I have tried multiple times to beat it, but no how close I come to achieving victory, I'm met with defeat at the last second. Leaving me to make a difficult decision: Do I keep trying? Or give up and review it anyway? I've been considering going with the latter option, as I feel I know enough about the game to review it. But, at the same time, I feel shouldn't. As doing so without finishing it, just seems wrong. Which leaves me constantly debating which option I should go with.

As on one hand, I already have all the info needed to write a review, so I can easily write a review like always. And it's not like the ending would have a huge affect on my opinion of the game, right? So why shouldn't I start writing it if I feel I can?

Because that ending sequence could have a big affect on my opinion, but I won't know for sure if I don't finish it. Therefore, writing a review now wouldn't be a good idea, as I still haven't played through all the content yet.

That's basically how it's been going in my head as I debate what the best option is. And while both sides raise good points, I can't simply decide upon one and feel I've made the right decision. As I would love to write a review for the game (simply because I love writing), but I don't think I should without finishing it first.

So basically it's a lose-lose situation. As neither choice is very desirable.

I don't know... Maybe I should just go with the easier option and forget about reviewing it altogether.

Posted by Vasta_Narada

If the ending is weighing on you that much, there's always Youtube :P 
 
I personally find that the ending does affect my score by a a decent margin, in a few cases. If the ending is BS, I generally like the game less, especially since I'm the kind of person that doesn't want a liked game to end (to the point where I don't finish some games. I'll come back a few months later, and start a new save, wanting to "see it from the beginning"...and do that multiple times). An example of this is Fallout 3. The fact that I couldn't do the option that made the most logical sense at the ending, really got under my skin. It's essentially the same problem that Jeff has, but moreso. I actually kind of despise that game now, even with Broken Steel.
 
On the other hand, a game with a good ending, could be completely unmentionable in my review, and could barely--if even--affect my score. An excellent/fucking fantastic ending could, though.
 
If I was in your position (and I sort of am in Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor), I would give it a good 2 or 3 more attempts, then say "screw it", and see the ending on Youtube before reviewing. Hope I helped, if only a little.

Posted by c_rakestraw
@Vasta_Narada:
Yeah, I know... But it doesn't feel right to watch the ending on YouTube. I don't know why (maybe it's because that sense of accomplishment is lost by doing so?), but it does. Well, that and the fact that the game has, what, 8 or 9 endings? I forget how much, but when a game has that many endings, it becomes a tad confusing. As I don't know which one is the one I'd get upon completion. 
 
You're right, though...I should probably just watch it on YouTube if I can't finish it.
 
A game's ending hasn't affected my score either (but I've only reviewed four games, so that could change), but the fact that it could is a good enough reason not to review it yet. Though even if I were to see the ending, chances are I'd never say anything about it in the review (partly because people hate it when you mention anything about the ending). Still...I feel I should see it anyway.
 
I've given it quite a few tries already, but I'll give it a couple more tries and see what happens. If I still fail, then maybe I will just watch the ending on YouTube or something, as you suggested, and review it. It probably wouldn't matter much if I don't actually finish it, anyway. It's not I'm a professional or anything, so no one (or at least not many) people would care about that.
 
Thanks for the help, by the way. It really helped.