This is a quick overview of how I distinguish games based on their value. I use this letter grade system over a 1-10 numeric model because I feel like I can give direct, meaningful scores with less hair splitting between, for example, an 8.0 and 8.5 score. Each tier represents a specific way I feel about a game and how it performs.
Pure captivation and brilliance. This incredible game goes beyond a cursory pros outweighing cons; this game has the “secret ingredient” or more that trumps everything else, that elevation that makes it truly special. No game is perfect, but I would emphatically recommend that you entertain even the slightest interest in getting this game.
A fantastic game that does a great job of keeping you engaged. What flaws are there are either too insignificant or too infrequent to consistently overtake the game’s strong execution. Unless the weak-spots pose significant concern to you, don’t hesitate on snatching this one up.
A strong game with solid value at its core. Consistency is the name of the game here; it may not always feel fresh or innovative, but its keeps a strong level of quality throughout most of the experience. Make sure your expectations are in the right place, but definitely check it out.
An average-to-good game that falls a bit short of hitting the “next level” of quality. The foundation is there and functional, but the package as a whole just isn’t as compelling as it could be. There definitely seems to be a full game in there, but it might require a little more patience than usual to get the best experience.
A mediocre game where the flaws are often at odds with the merits. It has its moments, but they’re in constant danger of buckling under the weight of its significant shortcomings. This might be a “gem-in-the-rough” for some people, but I’d still approach this with a healthy dose of caution.
A poor game that misses the mark by a long shot. For one reason or another, the experience is battered with poor quality at nearly every turn. Avoid this one unless you’re ready to do some significant legwork digging the value out of it.