Rubric: Game Reviews

At Living Myth, video game review scores are out of a possible 100 points, divided into five main categories of 20 points each. Each category score represents the sum of various sub-categories, weighted according to average importance. Definitions for each scored sub-category are intended to be dynamic, open-ended, and inclusive -- allowing them to be applied to a wide variety of genres. In the event that a sub-category is deemed non-applicable or of less importance to the quality of a particular game, leniency or re-evaluation of criteria may be applied on a case-by-case basis.

While video game reviews are innately subjective, and review text may include highly opinionated reactions, efforts are made to maintain realistic amounts of fairness and objectivity in numerical scoring. That said, please take the entire review into consideration, and never assume a quantified score is "the bottom line," no matter the source.

Below is a blank example of Living Myth's default game review rubric, followed by key concerns in each criterion. These descriptions represent typical examples of interest of the Living Myth blog, but may not be exhaustive if exceptions arise.



Artistic design of all visual elements, from characters and environments to interface and menus. Aesthetics, style, motifs, and attention to detail. The balance of a creative, unifying identity vs. commercial pandering or generic, recycled imagery.

Technical Merit

Graphical advancement, consistency, integration, "wow" factor. How small is the gap between what the designers wanted and what is actually represented on-screen?
Camera angles/movement, model and texture quality, frame rate, load times, clipping, hit detection, clarity of details, variety of figures and animations.

Sound Design


An evaluation of the game's soundtrack -- weighing unique character, variety, track placement, and its ability to be engaging and enjoyable. Was the composer brought in on the ground floor, with music a central part of the experience, or was the soundtrack "phoned in" or injected after the fact? How does music interact with what is going on in the game? Does instrumentation and style fit? Does the amount of music suit the length of the game, or are tracks repeated often? Does the game have its own themes and motifs? Is the soundtrack original, or dependent on licensed music? How much does the soundtrack "belong" to the game?

Sound Effects & Vocals

Character and integration of sounds, sense of atmosphere, variety of sound effects without annoyances, sound quality and volume levels. Does the game build a "soundscape" unique to itself?
How good is the voice acting, if any? Are the actors aware of their character's motive, inflection, what's going on in the scene, etc.? Are roles filled adequately, and performed believably?


Control & Interface

Responsiveness, intuitiveness, and consistency of input. General give-and-take between the game and the player. Does a playable character feel like a reasonable extension of the player? Are the menus easy to navigate?

Player Agency

How much do moment-to-moment choices and actions affect gameplay? Do circumstances, character development, difficulty, or gameplay change according to how the player approaches a situation? How much is there to do, at any given time? How might one player's experiences differ from another's? Are there multiple solutions to a problem?
How much does cause-and-effect feel natural and logical? How can players develop their own personal techniques and strategies? Does the game care that the player is there at all, or would this play out the same way if manipulated by an AI?


Learning curve, integration of concepts and tutorials. Does the game want to give you a fish, or teach you how to catch them? Can content be completed reasonably, without a walkthrough? How is the player's time respected?
Are game mechanics communicated clearly, or hidden behind contrived gimmicks and pretentious jargon? Is they key to success evident, or hidden in external meta-game research and hidden stats?


Feedback & Fun

Is the game generally fun to play? What is the "return on investment" for getting involved? Is the game an addictive "page-turner"? Can the player set and realize goals within the context of the game? Is it challenging for the right reasons, or full of cheap deaths and artificial padding? How is player skill and attention to detail rewarded?


Complexity, breadth of options. Rewards for tinkering with under-the-hood systems and mastering the game's principles. How many different ways are there to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, and still have something coherent? Do the rules account for the player messing around, or are they easily exploitable or breakable?


Multiple game modes, diversions from linear progression, mini-games, side-quests, something to do or investigate besides the run-of-the-mill grind. Does everything play the same way constantly from beginning to end, or are there contrasting events and set pieces than punctuate the arc of the game? Does the game feel like many different pieces come together as a whole, or is it a monotonous and homogeneous?


Theme, Realization & Narrative

Intriguing story hooks, engaging plot arcs, well-realized cast of characters. Developing complexities in the setting and scenarios. Ebb and flow of emotive moments that draw the player into the world -- tension, victory, and defeat. A "story" is told through literal plot points or expressed through abstraction.
Convincing setting and world-building, well-written dialogue, quality translation and localization. Circumstances and motivations make sense. Rules of the game and the environment are self-consistent, and what happens feels reasonable and intuitive. There's a genuine "feeling" or atmosphere about the game that is identifiable and real. The game speaks its own language, and is good at what it does.


How strong is the "voice" of the game? Is there evidence that the creators loved making the game, or is it a cynical financial obligation? How is the concept of "value" treated -- is the game trying to be as good as it can be, or manipulate the player to waste time, money, and make additional purchases?
Is there care and attention to detail? Is the game true to itself? What is the philosophy or "moral" of the game?


Does the game do something new, twist familiar elements in a novel way, or settle for the status quo? Does the game have something unique and unusual to say? Does it defy conventions, or play it safe?

Defining Moment

Describes a moment, feeling or anecdote which paints a picture of the overall experience of playing the game. A microcosm that sums up the bottom line.

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