Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Detail My Esoteric Ratings System
No, we’re not reviewing some game you’ve never heard of. Bullwinkle Blitz is just an on-brand subtitle for a rapid review rush. Maybe its being opaque enough to warrant an opening explanation invalidates its worth as a subtitle. Maybe if you obsessed over alliteration and moose as much as you should, O’ Fearless Reader, we wouldn’t be having this issue. Just a thought…
So, we’re doing a bunch of shortform reviews today. Partially because there are several games I’ve been wanting to review, but haven’t had the time or inspiration to give ‘em the “Review With a Moose” treatment. Mostly though, as implied by the sub-ER-title, this serves as an excuse to examine my ratings system using multiple products as reference. You see, I’ve put a LOT of thought into the system I’ve been using. And, though I’ve been quite coy with it so far, I wanted to explicitly talk about it for once. For starters, I actually refer to it as “IEETA.” If you’ve no idea what that means or what I’m talking about, don’t worry…you will.
As opposed to my usual ~2500 word review, I’m going to try being brief. “Try.” As such, I’ll just give each game a quick, anecdotal intro, go through my qualitative pillars (Imaginative Vigor, Entertainment Value, Emotional Resonance, Technical Function, and Artistic Depth – or IEETA!), score it, and give some final thoughts on IEETA in the context of the review. Sounds good? I hope so, because your answer is irrelevant.
[FUTURE MOOSE ADDENDUM: I wrote the rough draft for this whole thing months ago. Then just sat on it for a while (the life of a moose is not teeming with free time). So, if you’ve the sense that these titles are past their time for active reception, well, that’s why. But let’s just have fun it with regardless…ya mucker.]
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Fun fact: I never beat Elden Ring [Still haven’t]. And, in all honesty, this game was the main reason why. I wouldn’t say Kirby is better, certainly not objectively speaking. Still, its accessibility and focus on fun just made for such a refreshing reprieve from Elden Ring’s relentless uphill battle. I came away from Kirbs questioning why I would even want to put myself through any more torturous frustration from From’s latest. Sooo, I didn’t and I haven’t looked back since.
Imaginative Vigor – 4/4
Despite what Kirby’s long 2.5D run might’ve made you suspect, The Forgotten Land is anything but generic. Sure, we’ve seen overgrown post-apocalyptic cities and desert ruins before. But never quite through the overjoyed and adorable lens Kirby provides. This juxtaposition makes for a feeling wholly unique to this game. That alone, though, is not what brings The Forgotten Land to such imaginative heights. That honor goes to Mouthful Mode. Every once and a while a game mechanic comes up that perfectly captures characterization and tone while perfectly complimenting gameplay. Mouthful Mode is one such mechanic. It makes so much sense for Kirby, you almost wonder why they haven’t done it before. And it’s implemented so wonderfully its segments make for some of the game’s best moments.
Entertainment Value – 3/4
The Forgotten Land is an absolute delight throughout. The game never slogs and is happy to move on to the next thing before anything gets tiresome. Really, all that’s holding it back here are some inherent problems ubiquitous with Kirby games. It can feel a bit mindless at times. While the level design here is solid and varied, the lack of challenge and punishment can degrade gameplay engagement. The Forgotten Land manages this far better than other entries, but it can still be dismaying to seasoned gamers. Another small knock against it is Kirby’s action design. It’s small because Kirby’s copy abilities never stopped being genius and they’ve beautifully translated his movement to 3D. However, Kirby just doesn’t have any particularly satisfying actions. Everything feels great, but nothing feels amazing.
Emotional Resonance – 4/4
The only failure of resonance I can think of is the companion character Kirby befriends. In general, the series’ friendship theming can feel tailored to a much younger, spongey-minded demographic. And that’s no different here. But what The Forgotten Land unequivocally sold me on was the unadulterated joy the game radiates. From the game’s opening anime theme song paired with Kirby jubilantly driving through a cityscape straight out of The Last of Us, I was besotted. And that continued through the entire game. So rarely does a game manage to elicit a big ol’ grin from start to finish. Kirby and The Forgotten Land not only manages that, but excels at it.
Technical Function – 3/4
Forgotten Land brings Kirby to the third dimension in genius fashion. His movement and patented copy abilities are faithfully adapted. The only thing lost in translation is Kirby’s unlimited traversal prowess. Here, Kirby can’t inflate through an entire level. Instead, Kirby’s float gives out after a bit, and there’s even a dynamic invisible ceiling to keep from circumventing obstacles. Some may see the change as an improvement, as it keeps from invalidating platforming. Others might say it’s antithetical to Kirby’s ubiquitous accessibility. Both takes are somewhat moot, as Kirby’s nerfed float still manages to remove tension from platforming. And platforming itself remains easy enough to be approachable. Copy abilities are likewise user friendly, eschewing the complexity of Superstar-esque titles. Having one or two moves per ability does excellently lend itself to level design, although they can fail to be exciting per se. In fact, taken piece by piece, no single aspect of the game is that extraordinary. But everything is blended together so complimentary, it makes for an all-around wonderfully designed game.
Artistic Depth – 2/4
The usual thematic suspects make a return. Friendship and love thwart cosmic evil and corruption. It works for Kirby, but it’s far from profound. And there’s really not much else the game is trying to say. The juxtaposition of setting to tone helps elevate the games artistry. But there’s not really a statement made in that contrast. It’s superficial. Mechanically speaking, gameplay and design show a decent amount of depth. Its accessibility keeps it from ever getting that deep or fascinating. It’s not lacking to the point of detriment – it’s decent enough here.
Wasn’t that review so shooooooooort!? I’m good at this. *Ahem* Even months later, it’s hard to deny the phenomenal quality of Kirby’s latest outing. I’ve been a big fan of the series since I was a youngin’, yet it’s not one I have ever associated with high quality. Kirby and the Forgotten Land smashes those expectations, scoring highest marks* in a couple qualitative pillars. However, not to be reductive of Forbidden Land’s successes, a 4/4 is not meant to be elusive. To correspond each score with a word: 1 = poor, 2 = serviceable, 3 = notable, 4 = exceptional. By design, a 4/4 doesn’t relay perfection. It just says there’s something remarkable in said category. And, of course, a 4/4 in any one pillar doesn’t indicate holistic quality. Something can be masterfully entertaining, yet horrible in ever other pillar. E.g. terribad classic The Room.
Horizon Forbidden West
I was really excited about returning to the world of Horizon. Then I played Forbidden West, and am now content never coming back. Hey! There’s a short review for ya! Horizon Forbidden West is aggressively average; it gets a 6 outta 10. I knew I could do it! Now, for the overly long short-review and addendum justification of a contrarian ratings system.
Imaginative Vigor – 2/4
I know, I know. “Only a 2/4? But the world of Horizon is unlike anything else in gaming!” Yeeaahh, but… Naaah. For starters, Forbidden West is a sequel. By nature, it’s derivative of its predecessor. Which by itself can be fine. But, there’s not even much of an attempt to iterate upon the world of the first. Put an image of the two side-by-side, and you'll likely struggle to differentiate them. That might be forgivable if their world was entirely unlike any other. Let’s get real here: Horizon’s post-post-apocalyptic world looks A LOT like every other big budget, forested open-world game with a few different, obligatory biomes. And the robo-saurs don’t quite distract from those similarities like they did the first time ‘round. They are still cool, though – I NEVER SAID THEY WEREN’T COOL. All of that’s practically hearsay, however, as the art direction isn’t the primary offender here. The honor of creative bankruptcy goes wholeheartedly to the gameplay. Do you like exploring a way-bigger-than-it-needs-to-be sandbox filled with walk-with-expositional-NPCs side quests and collect-every-damn-thing-you-see-even-though-it’s-not-fun crafting? Forbidden West’s got you. And about a dozen other games released in the last year. Any game of this ilk really needs some fun gimmick to differentiate itself from the rest. Horizon has robo-saurs… I mean, they are pretty cool. They don’t ACTUALLY do much for that gameplay, though.
Entertainment Value – 2/4
I could’ve sworn I enjoyed the game more prior to writing this. Looking back, though, I can’t recall a single moment of unbridled joy. Maybe when I did a barrel roll…? What I do recall is a lot of boredom, frustration, tedium, and disappointment. If the gameplay’s biggest lasting impression was too many annoying “follow-me” quests, it’s safe to assume it struggled to be entertaining. Though I must admit, I found it fun enough to play for 60+ hours with little fuss. I guess that’s worth something, you know. Like, it was never really fun, but it was inoffensive enough to be a decent time killer.
Emotional Resonance – 3/4
I felt out of touch with Aloy through much of the game. Her priorities, her seeming distain for everyone she talks to, and especially her flirty eye flutter with some returning king-guy I didn’t at all remember. And that was the point (except that flirt thing; the game treats Zero Dawn alumni with a reverence I personally can’t be bothered to reciprocate). You’re not supposed to empathize with Aloy. You’re suppose to empathize with her friends, who have to cope with her anti-social and self-destructive nature. It’s actually really well done. It’s only slightly negated, however, with gameplay that acts way more exciting than it is. For instance, is climbing a mountain at all exciting when it has no stakes and Aloy’s animations occasionally spaz? The narrative set-ups would certainly want you to believe so. The ultimate savior here is a fantastic late-game twist. The moment itself is somewhat trite, but the lasting consequences really resonate. It was easily the game’s most memorable aspect.
Technical Function – 3/4
I have a lot of gripes with Forbidden West’s design. But I have to give credit where credit is due: Horizon Forbidden West is a technical marvel. The fidelity on display is, at times, mesmerizing. Forests are lush, water tempting enough to drink, and every corner meticulously detailed. At night, lighting off those cooooool robo-saurs strikingly illuminates the environment – it’s whimsical and intimidating all at once. And this is all with an ever-extending draw distance; there’s no apparent loss in quality no matter how far. Likewise, animations for the smallest human to the largest machine are impressively ornate. Sans the occasional flying-in-place machine, and low-poly animals that feel detached from the otherwise detailed world. The action and level design of the game is clumsy, bloated, and pedant. But the sheer production value gives Forbidden West a much-needed edge.
Artistic Depth – 2/4
Who would’ve thought a post-apocalypse of man’s hubris would have messages? Indeed, Forbidden West has a lot to say. Both about human nature and our modern society. Though it’s lacking nuance. The game tries playing with grey morality often. Except it presents cartoonish villainy with practically every antagonistic figure. They hardly seem like actual people, let alone balanced characters with realistic agency. Maybe not a deal-breaker if plot compensated for characterization. Unfortunately, it frequently comes off as trite and obvious when the game means to seem complex and profound. And that's when it isn't reduced to excuses for fetch quests. It was clearly written by smart people, but it just plainly regurgitates smart-sounding things without any unique insights. It feels like the writers didn’t actually have much to say, but knew the game needed to say things to appear mature and intelligent. And so, we got generic messaging. Which just…isn’t impressive. As for mechanical depth, it’s certainly there. Gameplay systems are deep and have a lot going on. However, those complexities are directly to the detriment of fun. That doesn’t make for a commendable feature – quite the opposite, actually.
You know, I really like that my final score isn’t explicitly settled on. Rather, it’s simply a sum. It weirdly makes for a more sincere final score, as I put no thought into what it should be. It just is. Though I suppose it validating IEETA in my eyes when its final score equates to that of a traditional metric is hence contradictory. The 6/10 I jokingly assigned Forbidden West at the onset of this review reflected 1:1 in the 12/20 given at its end. The contradiction being: if the final score of IEETA’s metric is somehow truer, then it shouldn’t line up with the implied untrue traditional score. But whatever; both thoughts can be true without invalidating the other. There’s just a slight overlap of contradiction that I’m choosing to ignore. Honestly, that contradiction only exists provided the traditional score is absolutely untrue. Which isn’t exactly what I’m saying, so – yes, ignoring the thing.
Now about that 12. My vocal opinion of Forbidden West seems anything but flattering. Yet there it is with a 12/20, associating it with “Great.” Well, the practical reason for that is Forbidden West impresses just enough with its presentation to compensate for its mediocre gameplay. But there’s a systemic reason as well. When designing IEETA, I preferred to word things in a generally positive manner as opposed to negative. So, an 8-10 is designated as ‘Decent,’ while a 11-13 is ‘Great.’ However, I perceive that entire range as ‘average;’ ‘Great’ was chosen specifically because it entails quality without being at all grandiose. It’s a subdued implication of quality, or what I see as the higher end of average. And now, for clarification’s sake: 1-4 = Disgraceful, 5-7 = Terrible, 8-10 = Decent, 11-13 = Great, 14-16 = Fantastic, 17-18 = Phenomenal, 19-20 = Masterpiece. Notice how I only have two words with denotative connections to bad. Not a coincidence.
Ooohooohoh, I got even MORE to say on this one. A “quick” condoning of the decimal-free, 20-point metric: Obviously, all 20 scores of IEETA are varying degrees of the general concepts bad, average, and good. That may make the 20-point metric seem redundant, as is the basis of some 3-point metrics I’ve seen. But a 3-point metric fails to communicate the minutia of quality seen in art. Now a 100-point metric is crazy – trust me. I’ve seen it implemented before; the score feels empty and arbitrary. A 20-point metric, however, nicely balances specific quality without being overwhelming. So, in short terms, that’s why a 20-point metric. Uhh, also the nature of the qualitative pillars’ relationship to the final score, but we’re not going to talk about that. But why not a 20-point metric with decimals? I.e., 5, 5.5, 6, 6.5…10. Well – besides that thing we just agreed we’re not going to talk about – to me, those .5s read more like a compromise. A 6.5, for instance, is defined by its proximity to 6 and 7, rather than standing as its own score. Now, when the 20-points are expressed exclusively through integers, it gives each one their own identity.
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe Edition
~2500 words in already. Just so you know. Anyhoo, I’ve been quietly anticipating this one for a long while now. In truth, I’ve only ever played the original Stanley Parable momentarily. But, it made for quite the memorable moment. Despite only ever seeing two endings, the concept of Stanley Parable always stuck with me. I always wanted to fully engross myself into it, but just never felt I had the time. So, when Ultra Deluxe Edition was announced, I knew the time had finally come. Well, would finally come upon its release. Which…took a while. But it did release. And I did play it. And it did NOT disappoint. Legacy content was still as amazing as ever. While new content somehow amplified the entire experience.
Imaginative Vigor – 4/4
Stanley is a wholly unimaginative protagonist. Stanley is just a man named Stanley, after all. The game’s setting is equally banal: an office building. It’s aggressively generic. But it’s all for the sake of juxtaposing with the insane places the game will take you – Oh!!! The places it’ll take you! Even when a few of the many – MANY – diverging paths trend the familiar, the narration will take things to uncharted territories. The Stanley Parable has an inimitable creative stamp to it; it’s quite unlike anything else in existence. The sheer imagination on display, from the Narrator’s snarky meta-awareness to the variety of stories told is simply staggering. The whole experience is overflowing with original scenarios, thoughts, and surprises. Throwing them at you with such confident ease, the game convinces you that it’ll never run out of ideas. And, truly, it doesn’t until it’s run out of content.
Entertainment Value – 3/4
The Stanley Parable doesn’t have much by way of gameplay. There’s no challenge to overcome, nor mechanics to master. There is a lot of walking, occasional button pushing, and grabbing hold of the reassurance bucket (don’t worry about it). But that’s the extent of its action design. That does not, however, mean you’ll be bored. The game’s writing alone will keep you thoroughly entertained. Very few lines fail to illicit a laugh, and those that do still manage a chuckle. And while action design is limited, player input is anything but. There are many choices to make throughout your own personalized parable. The Stanly Parable engages you through that interactivity. Breaking the Narrator’s solicited narrative progression is one mischievous delight that never gets old.
Emotional Resonance – 4/4
I was immersed in the game’s metanarrative. I wasn’t just a hollow participant of it, I WAS half of it. The relationship between Stanley, or rather the player, and the Narrator is really the heart of Stanley Parable’s narrative. Throughout, I felt a deep, intimate connection with the Narrator; I would directly react to him and him to me. That by itself is a strong indication of powerful resonance. But, perhaps more applicably, my responses were all me falling right into the game’s hands. It may have let me think I was disrupting the game by standing in a broom closet, but that was exactly what the game wanted. It wanted me to stand there, patting myself on the back, so it could tell me how stupid I was for standing there. It did this for laughs – I laughed. It did this for player-interaction – I interacted. It did this to ingratiate me into a whole game of stupid, inconsequential player-choice – I WAS INGRATIATED. The Stanley Parable only works if its intended feelings resonate with the player. And The Stanley Parable ABSOLUTELY works. I mean, the BUCKET! Its resonance is exceptional, no doubt about it.
Technical Function – 4/4
Again, it just works. This is an example of simple, non-bloated design being wholly realized. The Stanley Parable is an uncompromised vision that never got hung up on frivolous ideas. A testament to function over all else. And yet, somehow, Ultra Deluxe flawlessly iterates upon the original. The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe Edition is unabashedly The Stanley Parable. It’s a perfectly functional rerelease of/response to a perfectly functional game.
Artistic Substance – 4/4
Looking at its holistic impact on interactive storytelling, The Stanley Parable was just the right response at just the right time. Both an acute deconstruction of the ailments facing the format, as well as a testament to the strength of its idiosyncrasies. While heavily sardonic in nature, The Stanley Parable stands as a genuine case for what can be accomplished in interactive storytelling. And Ultra Deluxe effectively takes the original’s reception and addresses most every praise or criticism. Simultaneously managing a competent, tent pole walking sim and a meta-deconstruction of its very own genre – AS WELL AS, now, being a reaction to feedback of its original release – is a delicate balancing act. The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe Edition gracefully glides across that balance beam. The game has so much of worth to say about every topic at play.
Yes, your eyes don’t deceive you. I did end that last paragraph with a rhyme. What do you do when you can’t think of anything good to say? Just rhyme! Or alliterate. Assonance isn’t the worst option, either. Oh, and yes, I changed “Artistic Depth” to “Artistic Substance.” What? You didn't notice? Are you even paying attention? *Sigh* …I felt “depth” never really aligned with quality. Kinda important for a qualitative pillar. Something can be deep but that doesn’t mean it’s worthwhile. Just look at Forbidden West up there. It was deep, it had metaphors and character arcs and messages, but didn’t really have much actual substance to offer. And that whole awkward non-sequitur I did at the end of Forbidden West’s “Artistic Depth” segment wherein I tersely talked about mechanical depth? No more of that. All around seems like an improvement to me. See? We’re learning TOGETHER.
The Stanley Parable has always been an interesting game to review. It’s hard to look at it and justify scores as high as expensive, bombastic, and gamier titles. I always thought that a failure of the traditional numerical metric. A 10/10 for The Last of Us doesn’t read any differently than a 10/10 for Return to Obra Dinn. That’s in spite of the two games being 10s for very different reasons. With IEETA, however, more of that difference can be communicated with the score. For instance, while The Stan Par Ul De Ed scored almost perfectly*, it was held back by its “Entertainment Value.” I.e., it’s not the funnest game, but remains immensely worthwhile elsewhere. Another good example of just that would be 2001: A Space Odyssey. A masterclass movie by many accounts. Yet, “entertaining,” would be one of the last words I’d use to describe it. And the ubiquitous perfect scores I’m wrongly assuming it received wouldn’t communicate that whatsoever.
“But moosey-puss,” I hear you shriek, “your system still has a ‘final score’ which would fail to communicate that same thing.” Well, yes. I formatted IEETA to have a final score for readability and familiarity. But its precursing multi-score is what I think of as the real score. It just lacks that UMPH that ties the whole review together. “Hold on, you roomey-moosey-bitch” – that’s uncalled for… “other reviews can still represent individual qualities with removed metrics. What makes yours any more special?” Well, you see, my way is just better. Because it is. You just don’t get it… Now, to be forrizzle with you, how I present IEETA here is not representative of its intended form. I fact, IEETA is not suppose to be numerical at all. My idea was to represent a final score purely as a visual. The multi-score and final score represented without any numbers, through a single image. What’s it look like? Wouldn’t you like to know. Point is, this form of IEETA is a prototype I created to test its practical use. So, you see, my REAL way IS better, and YOU just don’t GET it. (Or maybe it’s not better. Who am I to say?)
Everything Everywhere All at Once
That unnecessary 2001 allusion was foreshadowing, baby. IEETA’s versatility is a staple of its design; it can be used for video games, movies, visual art, or even a goddamn box (Technical Function says hi). I would say music too, but that would imply I have any ability to analytically critique it – I do not. Movies though…? Well, I might not be that good at it, but I can do it. So, let’s test IEETA – and myself – and see how one of my new all-time favorites fares.
Imaginative Vigor – 5/4* (NANI???)
It’s funny, it only took two MCU multiverse outings to make the whole concept sound trite. It’s a good thing Everything Everywhere All at Once is so relentlessly inspired. For starters, many of its universes are such fantastical, whimsical places. The movie frequently asks ‘what ifs?’ you’d have to be completely out of your goddamn mind to even drunkenly day-dream about. What if all life were sentient rocks communicating through air-texts? What if homo sapiens were killed off by another species who went on to create a civilization uncanny to our own…and they have hot dogs for fingers that ejaculate mustard? It’s like no idea was too stupid, unwieldy, or incomprehensible to make it in. Which makes for a movie bursting with creativity. And it doesn’t stop at mere superficialities. The way multiversal travel and channeling works is original and tons of fun. The writing, seamlessly flowing from universe to universe, inimitable. And how its plot and themes are amplified by its setting display such unprecedented ingenuity. Nothing about Everything Everywhere All at Once lacks in imagination. It even manages one better and utilizes that imagination within the core of the movie. It’s more than exceptional. The imaginative vigor is boundless.
Entertainment Value – 4/4
Whether it was a fight to secure a buttplug (it was strategic) or an existential dialogue between rocks, I was thoroughly and consistently entertained. Besides the expositional first act, still brimming with energy and craftsmanship, there’s nary a dull moment to be found. Everything Everywhere All at Once doesn’t give you time to be bored. There’s always a new revelation, action set piece, or laugh-out-loud joke before you’ve finished digesting the last. And everything lands. It’s almost intimidating how consistently entertaining the movie is. More apt, though, is to recognize it as exceptional.
Emotional Resonance – 4/4
I have simple criteria for scoring highly here. If something manages to get me choked up, its emotional resonance must be notable. And during the tail end of Everything Everywhere All at Once’s third act, I was fighting back tears. All the while, any exercise in levity elicited a good, ugly laugh. You just know a work has astonishing resonance when it presents a simple scene of a tumbling rock and is jovial and heartbreaking all at once.
Technical Function – 4/4
Everything Everywhere All at Once’s multiverse setting is woven into its DNA. From its writing, to plot, to characters, to scenes. While in other movies, a multiverse might only be a fun setting yielding imaginative set pieces, Everything Everywhere All at Once does far more with the concept. It isn’t just a movie that takes place in a multiverse, it IS a multiverse movie. The plot doesn’t disruptively move through its universes, it moves with them. And they move simultaneously, stacking upon one another in an intentionally jarring and discombobulating rhythm. One sub-plot might reach its climax, while several others are doing the same. All of while moving the movie forward in some relevant way. They might vary from somber to ridiculous, yet they always manage to contribute to the movie’s arcs and themes. It’s remarkable that the movie can go so many places and still tell a linear story. Everything Everywhere All at Once’s multiversal structure is so effective, it’ll likely inform others for years to come.
Artistic Substance – 3/4
The artistry of Everything Everywhere All at Once is phenomenal. It has substantial emotional weight, giving the whole affair tangible substance. And it’s a tentpole cinematic release for the multiverse concept. By all accounts, it should get a 4/4 in this category. But the pretentious snob in me has to rain on that parade. Everything Everywhere All at Once is a marvel. But I’ve this nagging feeling that the movie doesn’t quite have the legs of cinematic legends. Nor the open-ended themes that yield endless interpretations. It’s a magnificent piece of entertainment. But it’s not quite to the level of fine art. That’s not for lack of trying, and it does have a great deal of intellectual depth. Still, it doesn’t quite reach the artistic heights I’d except of an exceptional entry.
*Asterisk time! I’ve implied the qualitative pillars can only score a maximum of 4. Well, I mislead you! I lied to your face and you believed me. You fool – you foolish fool. I’ve made a fool of you. HA!!!
I know a 5/4 may come off as inane – I thought the same thing when I conceived it. However, its experimental implementation has won me over the more I’ve used it. As I said before, a 4/4 is not suppose to be exceedingly difficult to earn. Due to that nature, however, it almost feels like a disservice to an outlier in quality. That’s where a 5/4 comes in. It signals something so high in respective quality, the difference between it and merely amazing must be noted. It’s not an easy caliber to attain, and it’ll seldom be seen. Setting it as a score beyond the established threshold best communicates these qualities; it gives the score gravitas it would otherwise be lacking. It likewise represents the best without undermining the “best” the 4/4 represents. In theory, at least. Really, a 5/4 is meant to be better than the best. It’s of a boundless, immeasurable quality.
If you’re concerned about the implications this may have on my praising of the 20-point metric, don’t be. I’m not. This does make it a 25-point metric, and that’s a-okay. ‘Cause I said so. And yes, that means the final score shares the qualitative pillars' misleading threshold. For example, a 22/20 is possible – improbable as it may be. AND yes, there are designated words for these scores: 21-22 = Transcendent, 22-25 = Fathomless. Sounds pretty damn improbable, huh? Anyway, if there’s a high-quality outlier, one might wonder if there’s a low-quality parallel. And there is! 0/4. Basically, all of the 5/4’s characteristics apply – except, you know, bad. Though its connotative indicator is more specific. Instead of the 5/4’s nebulously defined “boundless,” a 0/4 is simply devoid of whatever qualitative pillar it’s assigned to. What would that look like? Well…
Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing
Consider this a brief, bonus review. Because there’s not too much to say about this shit. I played it. It’s bad. Let’s see how it fares with IEETA.
Imaginative Vigor – 1/4
It could’ve just been a racing game. But it’s a BIG RIG racing game. That’s worth something.
Entertainment Value – 1/4
Big Rigs is fun to make fun of. For 5 minutes. After that…there’s nothing. No fun to derive from any corner of this vapid excuse of a game. It’s kinda fun to derogatorily say “Big Rig,” I guess. Fuckin’…Big Rig piece of shit.
Emotional Resonance – 3/4
I get it. I understand Big Rigs: it’s a statement on the life of a trucker. Through the dreamlike, uncanny state of its reality, it reflects the sleep-deprived daze truckers must endure. All one can do is just KEEP driving. A landscape so homogenized, location loses all meaning. All that matters is the destination – the goal. Everything before that might as well not exist. The game’s lack of collision detection enforcing just that. And once you reach that finish line, you’re greeted by a sense of profound emptiness. It really makes you feel like a professional trucker. Such a masterstroke of resonance… AHHHHHH! Just kidding, kitten. This game makes me feel nothing. Certainly nothing they intended me to feel. It’s absolutely devoid of emotional resonance. Truthfully a 0/4.
Technical Function – 0/4
Maybe it’s a little unfair to say the game’s devoid of function. After all, the acceleration key DOES accelerate. But your rig drives right through buildings and bridges. It can drive up and down high-grade slopes with no change to momentum, speed, or throttle. You don’t even have to worry about your brakes bursting into flames from the stress (there’s a truckin’ reference for ya). Most damning of all, though, is the complete lack of enemy AI. Meaning the one adversarial rig inexplicably rests, motionless, at the start line. MEANING you can’t even race in this racing game. So, no function. It might as well be a video of a trucker repetitively adjusting his seat ad infinitum. That is to say, it has no functional reason to exist and prolonged exposure will leave you questioning every decision you’ve made in life.
Artistic Substance – 0/4
Can there be artistic value in something terrible? Definitely. Can something have value in its terribleness per se. Sure. Does Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing display any such worth? Absolutely not. The game says nothing. Its artistry is nonexistent. The gaming industry as a whole would’ve missed nothing had the game never crept out of whatever hell it spawned from. And there’s nothing to gleam from its lack of quality besides it sucks. Big Rigs exists solely as a product in the most derogatory sense of the word. It's devoid of passion, vision, or any artistic intent. Or maybe it’s even worse than that: a hobbled together corpse of a product that might have been. Regardless, I shutter to call Big Rigs art. It’s more akin to a wet fart – unpleasant, awkward, and insulting for everyone involved.
In case you were wondering, I CAN give a final score of a 0/20. Which means that, yes, it’s technically a 26-point metric and not a 25-point metric. I’m just the goddamned king of misleading! Makes you wonder if I’m even a moose… I’m as of yet uncertain if anything does or ever will warrant a 0/20, but IEETA is ready for it. IEETA’s ready for every-fucking-thing. I’ve learned to love that about these out-of-bounds scores: they add a lot to what these scores can say. Qualitative anomalies don’t need to be excused through writing (such writing often done in a way acutely aware of a basic numerical metric’s communicative limitations). The written content may be the most essential part of a review, but the score should strive to be an accurate and concise representation of said content. I think IEETA is set up perfectly to be just that. ESPECIALLY if I ever get around to fully developing that non-numerical variant of it. Which I’m totally gonna do some day… Totally… I mean, honestly only if I’m ever paid for this shit. Which I realistically never will be… *Cough*
WEEELLLLLLPPPPPPP, that sure was long. I had planned on reviewing a few more games, but imma call it here. Besides, I don’t have much more to say about IEETA. Though it occurs to me that, besides Artistic Depth/Substance, I neglected to define any of my qualitative pillars at any point during this… Oh well. Y’all are smart; you’ll figure it out. No more IEETA ‘splaining. The mini-review format, though, I like and will probably return to. I already thought of a brand-appropriate name for it – that’s all I need to be convinced something’s a good idea. If you have any thoughts on IEETA, do share them. I’d love to see feedback. Otherwise, God bless and good night (or day – I don’t fuckin’ care).
5960 words. Not that anyone's counting...