The name of the game and a link to the game topic (here on this site). Your review should also cover the four basic areas, and provide a brief ending summary that conveys your overall experience with the game. If an area is not included in the game (ex: the game was a visual novel and didn't have battles), you can leave that area off.
Game Topic Link
Game Play / Level Design:
Story / Writing Mechanics:
Resources Used (Audio, Visuals, Scripts):
Combat System & Balance:
Scoring: It's your option whether or not to provide a score to your review. Some people prefer a score, others not so much. You may choose to score each area individually or as a whole, or not at all. However, if you do provide a score, please ensure your score reflects your review.
For example: If you indicate the game play is riddled with horrible mechanics, 10/10 stars for this area would not make sense.
In addition, be clear on what your scoring system is. If you state an area is 5 points, this can be read as a perfect score of 5/5 or an average score of 5/10.
I typically use a 10-point system in my reviews as a whole, and this is generally the guidelines I use when coming up with a score. You can use this as a basis for your own reviews.
1/10 = Terrible: Very little (if anything) is worth redeeming and the game is practically unplayable. Typically a score like this means everything about the game is bad. Gameplay mechanics are poorly designed, there are game-crashing bugs, the story is poorly written, writing/grammar/punctuation mechanics suffer, audio/visuals are used incorrectly or are simply intolerable, and the combat/balance system is completely broken. It's hard for a game to fit into this category without being considered spam or a joke game.
2/10 = Poor: Barely playable, but unlike "1/10" there are some minor redeeming qualities, such as something stood out above all the trash, perhaps a certain feature that was used, or the audio/visuals were nice despite the game suffering horribly.
3/10 = Below Average: The game suffers quite a bit, but still has a few redeeming qualities and even a glimmer of potential. Typically this rating is reserved for games that, while poorly designed, attempt to introduce new ideas and features. In many cases, games that fall into this rating were probably "learning exercises" for the developer.
4/10 = Fair: While still less than average, the game has potential. It's typically a step up from "2/10" in that there are a few more features and less bugs, but there is plenty of room for improvement.
5/10 = Average: The game is what we would expect from an amateur designer, and it plays and feels like 100 other games we've played, yet there doesn't appear to be any attempt to break the cycle. The developer has potential, but needs to step out of their comfort zone in order to rise above the average. Typically, the game is playable from start to finish, and the bugs we come across should not impact our playing. The story may need to be proofread, and the developer may need to rethink what resources are used.
6/10 = Above Average: The developer is moving closer to making a decent game, in spite of the flaws that have hindered success, and something about the game really stands out above the others; even if not implemented as well as it could be. Writing mechanics should be with few errors, even if the story is not great, and the game should be all but unplayable. Combat/balance should be better than the "average" game, but might come across as tedious depending on the mechanics that go into the gameplay.
7/10 = Decent: This is the rating most developers should strive to achieve as it generally means that, while not everybody is pleased, a lot of people really enjoyed the game. This "10-minus-3 points rating" is usually based on a few issues the game still suffers from; a weak combat system or lacking story, but overall the experience should be enjoyable.
8/10 = Good: Almost everything about this game, from its gameplay mechanics to the story and writing to the combat and balance, shines. It's still not perfect, as there may be some features that are hard to implement, compared to a lot of other RM games, but this one is above the pack. The game should not have any game crashers at all, and the few bugs that are there should be minimal and discovered by accident (for example, the player takes actions that weren't expected or predicted by the developer).
9/10 = Great: About the highest rating you can expect to achieve as a developer, or should give out as a game's review. There are minimal suggestions to make the game better, and most of the game's elements have been done right. Everything about the game should go above and beyond the average, and the story should be original. Writing should not have any mistakes, save for maybe a loose word or two, and the game should not have any bugs at all. The gameplay should feature unique mechanics that make the game stand out.
10/10 = Excellent: Similar to the "1/10" in its rarity, it's nearly impossible for a game to be scored this unless the review/reviewer is a bit biased towards the game or developer. For a game like this, everything has to be perfect, without a single issue (broken or otherwise) and the features must all be unique, or implemented in a unique way.