Why I Put in 20 Hours Before Writing a Game Review

Too many game “journalists” don’t really seem to put in a great amount of effort to provide a proper overview. I mean, how much of a game can you really get if you only play it for an hour or so? To me, writing a game review means you actually dove into the game.

Maybe I’m just silly that way.

To be honest, I think many of these journalists nowadays just play for a few minutes before writing the game review just so they can be one of the first to hit publish.

And when you rush to finish just so you can have bragging rights, you don’t do yourself or the game justice.

6 Reasons for a 20-hour Minimum Before Writing a Game Review

There is no way you can get a decent grasp of all the facets of a game inside of an hour. Well, unless it was a poorly crafted game or an “early access” title.

But for a finished product that developers spent years creating, you gotta give yourself some time within the game’s environment. Otherwise, the piece will come off half-cocked and disconnected from what it truly is.

A lot can happen within that 20 hours.

1. Exploring Story, Plot, or Progression

It can take quite a while to really move through a game in terms of plots and storylines. What you’re experiencing in the first few minutes may pale in comparison to what you’ll discover a few hours down the road.

And what about general progression? Leveling mechanics, controls, advancements, and more can all be locked somewhere down the line. Having a quick glimpse at what you believe is there is not the same as actually experiencing it yourself.

2. Ample Time to Explore Features

When writing a game review, you need enough time to explore every feature. Sure, you might not write about some of the more mundane things. But without going through what the game provides, you’ll never know if there is something that tickles your fancy.

How does the PVP aspect work? If there is crafting, are there a lot of recipes to keep a builder’s attention? Does the game offer social sharing of screenshots and clips built into its settings (yes, I have seen this before)?

Some developers will go the extra mile for these features in the hopes someone will point them out or enjoy the game more.

But don’t believe for one second that just because you think it’s dumb that the developer’s target audience would as well. This is why true gaming journalists are not biased towards brands or genres.

3. Plenty of Time to Address Problems

A game could play absolutely amazing in the beginning but then fall apart later on. The same could also be said, vice-versa.

Without enough time to explore any issues in gameplay, you may look the fool by either giving the game praise or criticism. Perhaps there are visual issues later on, or maybe some of the gameplay begins to feel redundant.

The bottom line is that you need to give yourself enough playtime to really explore these issues.

4. Getting Past the Learning Curve

Some games just have a hell of a learning curve, according to some journalists. I remember a story regarding someone who simply couldn’t work the controls of Cuphead during the tutorial.

Taking your time and adjusting for this learning curve gives you enough freedom to adapt and play the game.

Your frustrations in the beginning may be swayed by the amazing gameplay afterward. And if you don’t have enough patience for that, you really shouldn’t be writing reviews at all.

5. Some Games Are Slow Burners

Not every game is going to be instant-mind-blowing action from the get-go. Titles like “The Last of Us” are story-driven. This means you’ll have to actually follow along for a while to get a real handle on how the game works.

Playing Cyberpunk 2077 for 20 minutes really doesn’t give you a chance to see how the game unfolds.

Setting aside 20 hours for gameplay gives you a chance to immerse yourself into the title, whether it’s good or bad. This means you’ll have a far more reliable experience when writing the game review.

6. Better for Forming an Overall Opinion

Lastly, playing a game for more than 20 hours lets you provide a more informed opinion overall. All of the above can culminate into something far different than you originally thought within the first few minutes.

Case in point, I thought Raft was going to be a mundane ocean-cleaner game. But after a few hours, I had a chance to discover all kinds of things you can do from building up a raft to exploring larger islands.

It turned out to be one of my favorites.

My point is that the more time you can pump into a game, the more reliable your opinion is going to become.

And if you go into playing a game with a preconception that you’re going to hate it, your opinion is going to be skewed from the very start.

It’s Not Always About Being First for Click Bait

Personally, I’ve never been one to rush any article out just so I can say, “First!”

I’d rather prepare a well-thought, experienced, thorough piece without adding filler or fluff. It’s a problem that a lot of authors have nowadays…one third of the article would aim at social injustices happening in the real world.

What the hell does that have to do with the game itself?

A lot of the time, this means my review doesn’t get out until much later. But, it’s a far more thoughtful piece than simply whipping something out just so I can appear first in Google search.

Writing a Game Review Means You Actually Played the Game, Right?

Too many reviewers want to get content out as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this means they really don’t put much effort into exploring a game. And isn’t that part of writing a game review?

I guess I’m just getting frustrated with some of the younger “authors” lately. Whatever happened to professionalism and self-respect?

And for Pete’s sake, quit trying to force your social or political agendas within the piece. You’re writing about the game or company, not how you view the world.

That’s what Twitter is for.

Michael Brockbank
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Michael Brockbank

Michael developed ColoradoPlays to help various charities through his favorite pastime. Since then, the blog and Twitch channels have donated several hundred dollars to Extra Life, Geeks of Grandeur and Operation Supply Drop to name a few.