I encountered the following statement regarding Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture:
If you’re unfamiliar, Rapture is a “walking simulator”, the only “mechanics” are move, look, a very slow run button and an “interact” button (actually, every button interacts). It’s not my intent to explain the appeal of walking sim games here, but suffice it to say if you were looking into this game hoping for Deep Mechanics you have absolutely no idea what this type of game is.
And in a way, that’s fine. You don’t have to like walking sim games, many don’t. But why, why why why would you be reviewing a game you know you won’t appreciate? By reviewing a walking sim when you don’t like the style of game, you become the button masher reviewing a fighting game. Your review is worthless to the outsider, because while they agree with your review they weren’t going to buy the game anyway. Your review is worthless to the insider, because your opinion is uninformed and irrelevant. Your review is worthless, full stop. A waste of ink and paper, of pixels and electrons.
I’ve seen these “useless” reviews far too many times, and it’s an extremely concerning trend in the industry. Sites have people who don’t like SRPGs review the latest Disgaea and they crap out reviews that fail to understand what the mechanical changes bring. Sites have people review a new niche fighting game and comment on graphics and how the controls are too complicated instead of how interesting the game is to a learned fighting game player. All too often the score is a 6 or a 7 out of ten with a “fans of the genre will appreciate it”. Well no shit, why didn’t you get a fan of the genre to review it?
Part of the problem seems to be this mistaken idea that a site needs to review everything. So once a walking sim becomes popular a bunch of sites that utterly despise them have to do it. Once Street Fighter comes out you must review it. I strongly disagree with that notion, but there’s such thing as freelancers–if you’re going to review a game, hire someone who actually understands what they’re playing with.
Now, I’m not saying reviewers need to like the specific game they reviewed. I like walking sims, I did not like Dear Esther, and I wouldn’t be afraid to say that in a review. But a fan of the genre telling you why they didn’t like Dear Esther is going to be a thousand times more useful than someone who hates the genre telling you why they didn’t like it–extremely often the “review” reads more like a review of the genre in these cases and the text could simply be replaced with “it’s a fighting game 7/10” and the quality of the review would remain intact. This is why I’ll never review FIFA. No, I don’t like FIFA, but no one considering buying FIFA would ever be helped by my complaints.
If you are pumping out uninformed reviews that just amount to “game is of a genre I don’t like”, please stop. You are feeding fans garbage and greatly harming the signal to noise ratio and finding a good review is already so, so hard. If a site is guilty of this, let them know you expect an informed opinion when reviewing your favored genres.